Are Your North Carolina Last Will and Testament and Guardianship Designations up to Date in the Midst of Coronavirus

Living with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, has made many people step back and take actions that ensure they are prepared. In the short term that means fighting the lines for food and cleaning supplies but in the long term it means making sure that all recommended important legal documents are up to date. Only two weeks ago, we thought that only older people were affected but now we know that people of all ages are at risk. Persons of all ages are reminded to make sure they have a Last Will and Testament in place. Young parents are … Continue reading

North Carolina Powers of Attorney, Advanced Directives and Beneficiary Designations in the Midst of Coronavirus

Living with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for each individual to decide who it is that they trust most to make medical decisions if they cannot make those decisions themselves.  Many of us may get sick and in that case, we may need someone to make important decisions for us. If you have not already done so, this is the time, while you are well and thinking clearly, to make those decisions and memorialize them in the appropriate legal documents. This advice is not only intended for older people but for anyone over the age of … Continue reading

It May Be A Tiny Home, But Is It A Tiny Price?

It’s a tempting fad if you think about it—being able to purchase a beautiful new house for half the price and only have to clean half of a house. With home prices continuing to soar, and home inventory becoming less readily available every day, Reality TV shows focused on finding the right Tiny Home are starting to plant the seed in more and more home buyers’ minds that maybe they COULD give up some of the convenience that comes with the size of a traditional home. However, before you jump onto the Tiny Home bandwagon, there may be a couple … Continue reading

Handwritten (Holographic) Wills in North Carolina

North Carolina recognizes hand written Wills known as Holographic Wills in certain circumstances. A holographic will is handwritten, not typed, and must be entirely in the handwriting of the person making the Will (known as the Testator or Testatrix). Holographic wills are valid without witnesses, but the testator must still sign it. In addition to having the Testator’s name, the holographic Will must also be found: among the his or her valuable papers or effects, or in a safe-deposit box or other safe place where it was deposited by the testator or under the testator’s authority; or in the possession … Continue reading

Why Suze Orman May Not Get It Right for North Carolinians

            There are many interesting legal and financial correspondents on television and the radio. They serve a great purpose; to educate consumers on options for their consideration. However, in many circumstances, it can be dangerous to take their advice. These correspondents speak from a national platform and not necessarily one that pertains to those living in North Carolina. I find often when someone like Suze Orman gives advice, it may be great advice for someone who lives in California. As an attorney also licensed in California I nod my head in agreement for some of the advice she gives but … Continue reading

DRONE FLIGHTS OVER PROPERTY: What Are My Rights?

Drone usage has become increasingly popular and is only expected to increase in coming years. Although the vast majority of commercial and recreational drone fliers are responsible rule-followers, there are always a few who will break or bend the rules to the displeasure of their neighbors. General rules dictate that drones (or a UAS/UAV, to the fliers) must be flown within line of sight of the operator, may not be flown over people, may not be flown more than 400 feet above ground level, and may only be flown during daylight hours, among other things. Complaints about “illegal” drone flights … Continue reading

New 2020 Tax Law Ends The Stretch IRA

Under the law prior to January 1, 2020, if you inherited an IRA you could stretch out the required minimum distributions over your own lifetime. Stretching an IRA in this way allowed beneficiaries to receive income but also continue to realize the benefits of a tax advantaged investment. This tax benefit has now been killed by the new law signed by President Trump last week as part of the government’s spending bill. Under the new “Secure Act” which stands for “Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement” effective January 1, 2020, anyone who inherits an IRA (with an exception if … Continue reading

The Basics of Title Insurance

Real estate purchasers can protect themselves from the possibility of a title defect claim by closing their real estate transaction with a law firm that is experienced in navigating the complexities of real property title. If you have a question regarding title insurance or are interested in using our services for closing your real estate transaction in North Carolina or South Carolina, the attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas are available to assist you. Purchasing a home is one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences in one’s life. It can also be a very confusing process for first-time homebuyers or … Continue reading

To Tow or Not to Tow?

One of the “hot-button” questions we receive from HOAs is about their authority to tow vehicles that are improperly parked in the subdivision. The primary question that the HOA needs to ask is whether the vehicle they want to tow is parked in a Common Area (parking lot or private street in most cases). If the answer to that question is yes, then as long as the Declaration provides the HOA authority to control and maintain those common areas, then the Board of Directors can establish reasonable rules for the use of those common areas, which could include towing improperly … Continue reading

What is a Trust?

Often clients tell me that they want a trust and immediately thereafter admit they really are not sure what a trust is or if they need one. They wonder if it is like a corporation or a contract or a Will? There are all different types of trusts but when the question comes up like this, typically people are asking about “revocable trusts” also known as “living trusts.” A revocable trust is a little like a Will and also like a contract or an agreement. However, you still need a separate Will when you establish this type of trust. They … Continue reading

The Basics of Title Insurance

Purchasing a home is one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences in one’s life. It can also be a very confusing process for first-time homebuyers or for people that do not deal in real estate transactions often. One of the more confusing aspects of a real estate purchase is the importance of title insurance. Prior to sitting at the closing table, very few buyers have ever heard of, let alone understand, the concept of title insurance. Title insurance can protect the buyer and the lender, if a home loan is required for purchase, from undue loss caused by a … Continue reading

Best Lawyers Recognition 2020

Law Firm Carolinas and two of its attorneys have been named to the 2020 US News Best Lawyers in America. Jim Slaughter has been recognized by Best Lawyers in the practices of Community Association Law and Real Estate Law. Keith Black has been recognized by Best Lawyers in the practice of Family Law. Law Firm Carolinas is again the only firm in North Carolina with a listing of “Community Association Law.”

Hurry Up and Wait – What If My Closing Is Delayed?

            A typical real estate transaction is complicated and has many moving parts. In plainest terms, many parties have to come together, ready and willing to move forward at one time, for a real estate transaction to close. Nearly every aspect of real estate transactions has increased in complexity, and despite advances in technology, delays are still common.             When a delay arises, one of the first questions asked is: “What are my rights?” Some may wonder if a delay is a breach of the contract. More often than not, a delay is not necessarily a breach of the contract, … Continue reading

New Firm Facebook Page

Law Firm Carolinas has a new Facebook page where you can keep up with firm activities, read recent blogs, and find out where attorneys are speaking (and includes a photo from this morning’s Piedmont Education Breakfast where Steve Black spoke on Declaration Amendments: Pandora’s Box)? The new page can be found at www.facebook.com/BlackSlaughterBlack. We ask that you follow it, like it, and share it!

Could Your Last Will and Testament be Ambiguous?

New North Carolina Court of Appeals Case The North Carolina Court of Appeals issued a new opinion today in the area of Estate Administration in the case of Brawley v. Sherrill. In this case, the Will provided for an estate to pass equally to Zoe’s two children but if either of the children predeceased Zoe that either his or her share shall go to Zoe’s grandchildren. One of Zoe’s children, a son, predeceased her so the question presented to the Court was does the deceased child’s share go to his children or to all of Zoe’s grandchildren and not just the … Continue reading

Who’s Responsible for HOA/Condo Assessments When a Homeowner Dies?

In North Carolina when a homeowner dies, his or her real property passes immediately to the heirs under a Will or if there is no Will, under the Intestate Succession Statute. This means that as soon as the homeowner dies there is immediately, by operation of law, a new owner. The real property is not a probate asset and therefore does not pass as such. Except for limited exceptions, this means that typically the “estate” is not the new owner. The question then arises, who is responsible for paying the community association assessments/dues? Since the heirs inherited the property immediately … Continue reading

Can I Enforce an Out-Of-State Judgment in North Carolina?

We live in a country where individuals and corporations transact business, enter into agreements, make purchases, and travel or move from state to state on a regular basis. Sometimes, these out-of-state interactions go south – a company or individual breaches a contract or a driver causes a collision and injures another person – and a lawsuit is filed. What happens if a defendant lives in or moves to North Carolina, but the judgment was entered in another state? Or, if the defendant has real property or other assets in North Carolina? Can a judgment obtained in another state be enforced … Continue reading

I’m Just Buying a Home… Why Does a Judgment Against Me Matter?

When a client is purchasing a home, my primary job as an attorney representing the buyer is to research the chain of title for the property and to make sure that no one can, as I like to put it, “come out of the woodwork and claim an interest in the new home.” I explain this to clients during the closing by stating that before they own the home, their seller owned it, and someone else before them, and so on. We call this the “chain of title.” When those owners owned the property, they had the power to affect … Continue reading

United States Supreme Court Case Involves North Carolina Trust Beneficiaries

North Carolina Department of Revenue v. The Kimberley Rice Kaestner 1992 Family Trust. This month the United States Supreme Court decided a case that involved North Carolina trust beneficiaries. The question asked was whether the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment permitted North Carolina to tax the income of a trust just because the beneficiaries live in North Carolina. The Supreme Court answered no. Under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, North Carolina (or any state) has the authority to tax a trust if the trust has “minimum contacts” with the state. North Carolina DOR took the … Continue reading

Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

Bed bugs have become a growing area of concern for planned communities across the country. Although no community is immune, bed bugs are most commonly found in single-family homes, condominiums, and hotels/motels. Because of their ability to travel from location to location, bed bugs can easily spread and infest multiple areas. This makes condominiums, townhomes, and single-family residences the perfect target for these tiny pests. You may be wondering how and why bed bugs are of importance to homeowners associations. I will be the first to admit that Board members and managers rarely seek advice regarding pest prevention. After all, … Continue reading