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Wrongful Death Lawsuit Vs Panera and a challenge to the NC Voter ID Law

Outlaw Lawyer / Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer
The Truth Network Radio
May 18, 2024 2:00 pm

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Vs Panera and a challenge to the NC Voter ID Law

Outlaw Lawyer / Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer

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May 18, 2024 2:00 pm

On this edition of Judica County Radio Panera Bread squarely in the cross hairs of a wrongful death lawsuit. Voter ID law in NC faces a challenge. Question and answer also featured on this week's Judica.

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Outlaw Lawyer
Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer
Outlaw Lawyer
Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer
Outlaw Lawyer
Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer
Outlaw Lawyer
Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer

Coming up on this edition of Judica County Radio, Josh Whitaker, Joe Hamer, and Cassandra Nicholas will be joining us on the program, and we'll be talking about wrongful death lawsuits, Panera Bread making the news recently, and also challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law.

We'll start with those two. It's all coming up next, right here on Judica County Radio. Whitaker and Hamer presents... Judica County, with Joshua Whitaker and Joseph Hamer. Welcome in to Judica County Radio. Your hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm. They're practicing attorneys here in the great state of North Carolina.

Offices located in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay, Verina, Gastonia, and in Moorhead City. And joining us from the Moorhead City office, Cassandra Nicholas, also a fellow attorney at Whitaker and Hamer. So we've got a three-headed monster. I guess I'm the fourth head, right?

So four-headed monster today on the program. And things we're gonna get into. Wrongful death lawsuits, Panera's making the news.

Again, a favorite place for people to stop in. They've got a spiked lemonade that is making the news. So we'll talk about that.

And then challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law. That'll come up a little bit later in the program, or they may start with it. I don't know.

It's a grab bag of stuff. But it's gonna be all about legalese. And if you've got a situation you're facing, we have five consults available and they are complimentary. Anything you wanna talk about, again, call this number, 800-659-1186.

That's 800-659-1186. That'll secure one of those consults for you. And Josh will tell you more about it as we get through this program. But Josh, take it away.

Lots to talk about today. I never feel like I have the appropriate level of energy when you throw it to me. Like I feel like I need to be like supercharged. Like I never do.

You send it to me and then I have to pause for a minute. And in this corner weighing in at a slim 210 with a full beard and glasses, Josh Whitaker. Look, man, I can't remember the last time I was 210, but it's been a while. I was being nice. Now, a lot of people don't know this, so we have different studios, but we have a video link so we can see each other. And Josh is filling up his portion of it.

This is the first time we've had four screens, four different locations. And I fill up mine, too. So I'm just giving you a little grief.

My wife makes fun of me. You know, your driver's license. We're going to talk about IDs today.

We're going to talk about driver's licenses, identification. But my driver's license, you know, they got a little picture there. And for a long time, you know, I had my good picture right from when I was 16.

Like I had my hair right. And it was a really good picture. And I kept that for as long as I could keep it. And they took another one.

It wasn't that bad. And I kept that for however long you can keep it. And I got a new one. And I don't know if they just I got too close to the camera, but it like my head. I have a large head and I'm OK with that. I've dealt with it my whole life, but my head filled up the entire picture square.

And my wife always makes fun of me. That says, this is my no light escapes my head in my driver's license ID picture. So it's something I have to live with.

It's OK, man. I think it looks nice. My I.D. photos always look like a mugshot. I mean, it's just I you know, you don't know when they're going to take it. And, you know, you're always kind of mid smile or no smile or mugshot look. I mean, that's just me. My mugshots all look like I.D.

pictures, actually. You got the reverse problem. Yeah, exactly, man. You know, you talk about not having energy when it gets thrown to you.

You know, it fix that is one of those delicious, charged, supercharged drinks from Panera Bread. Look, we're going to talk about we're going to talk about that because I don't think we've ever talked about wrongful death lawsuits on our show. And so I thought that was a fun, a fun story about wrongful deaths that we could use to talk about a very serious topic. So so we'll do that. But I just need to go on the record saying I have a short list of restaurants and places where I won't eat for various reasons. And Panera is on that list. And you've extended it to your various offices. You will not sponsor meals from Panera, right?

Right. We have we have seven offices kind of across the state. And we have a we have a list of where we will not order food from. And Panera has made that list across the state of North Carolina. And you might like Panera and that's fine. I'm not a huge fan. I don't think it's okay. If you like if you like it, I don't. It's not.

It doesn't sit well with me. There are many people including my spouse who love Panera Bread. So our Panera what is it called Panera Bread or Panera Bread? Panera Bread. Panera. It's allowed in your house?

I'm not a huge fan either, man. You know, Cassandra, it's not really allowed in my house. It doesn't come into my house.

But when she's away from me, we're separate. She's she can eat there whenever she wants. Guys, I mean, the mac and cheese is in an alleyway, dark alleyway. I was going to say the mac and cheese is worth sneaking out and getting. It's good. Like really good.

Like, yes, it's really good. Have you had Kraft macaroni and cheese though? I think that's called Kraft dinner. That's called the college meal plan. When I was in college, you can't get much better. That's finely tuned over years of trial and error with the best scientists and chefs.

There's a lot of research. Have you added Velveeta to your Kraft mac and cheese? No, man, I'm not crazy. But you know, this is one thing I can tell you. I don't know this for a fact, but I feel pretty confidently that that that delicious Kraft mac and cheese powders never killed anybody. No, it's safe, man.

Zero deaths. So there's been a lot of people who've who've eaten it and then had a really good time afterward. Maybe even a preservative effect inside your body. Yeah, exactly.

I had the immortality in college. You know, I didn't I in college when you made Kraft dinner, because I do think that's what it's not Kraft macaroni and cheese. I think it's Kraft dinner.

I think it's what it's called. But I would add American cheese, right? You had slices of American cheese to it.

I know Cassandra said Velveeta, but I like the American cheese, what it brings to the table, maybe some pickled jalapenos in it. Well, you know, I think there's enough cheese, man. I think that there's not enough, man.

I think there's enough. I think that's the minimal amount of cheese that they can get away with and call it a mac and cheese product. I think you have I think you do have to add additional cheese.

That's neither here nor there. I don't even care if it's cheese, man. I just know it's my kids like it. It's easy to make.

And for that reason, I give it two thumbs up. The we are going to talk about some serious things today. As always, we're picking things out of the national news that we think are fascinating and could use an attorney's perspective on. And so right now there's while we're in studio, there's a trial going on in a federal courthouse in North Carolina about the North Carolina voter I.D. law. So, of course, this is going to be the first election in a while where when you go vote, you're actually going to get asked for your identification, your I.D.

Some people are real big fans of that. It makes a lot of sense to some people, other people, students of history don't necessarily like this and think it violates some federal laws. But anyways, the North Carolina requirement to have I.D. when you vote, we're going to talk about that, what's going on with it.

That's an important news item. And then like we've been talking about, we're talking about this Panera wrongful death story. But I real quick, whoever wants to field this question, what is a wrongful death lawsuit? So it's a I'm going to jump in.

I know you were waiting, you were ready. I think a lot of folks get confused about criminal actions and civil actions. So a wrongful death action is a civil action. So it's a lawsuit for money when someone else's action, inaction, negligence has contributed to someone's cause of death.

Their family can then sue that person or entity. Yeah, that's exactly what it is. Yeah, you did.

You want to you want to craft a box of craft dinner. But we talked about O.G. Simpson last week and we talked about the judgment. Nicole Brown, Smith, Nicole Brown, Simpson, Simpson.

Yeah. Why would I think Smith? OK, I don't know.

It doesn't lay up for you. We talked about the judgment that that her family and the Goldman family had against O.J. Simpson. That was a wrongful death judgment. You know, like like Sandra said, he was not obviously, we know, convicted of murder, but he was found civilly liable for for their death.

So that was a wrongful death judgment. These Panera I didn't get the exact facts. I know it's a drink they have that has like a lot of caffeine. I don't know if it has Jolt Cola level caffeine in it. Apparently, it's got a lot of caffeine.

I mean, Joe mentioned it. It's a charged type of lemonade. They've removed all of their charged drinks that are across the chain, obviously, for for what's going on. No, they're not given a reason. They've been asked. Yeah.

Up to for the big one. If you want some stats for comparison, like an eight ounce cup of coffee is ninety five milligrams of caffeine. So it's like three to four times a cup of coffee. That doesn't seem like that much. That's for you. It's not that much, man.

You're a seasoned veteran. It would take three hundred and ninety of those charged lemonades to take you down, brother. What was what was Jolt Cola back in the day? Well, I'm going to I'm going to Google it home.

I think Cassandra was about to say something. Yeah. A monster has one hundred and sixty and then Jolt had seventy one.

Wow, that's nothing. Yeah, it's nothing less than a cup of coffee. Your tolerance back when you were drinking Jolt's wasn't the same as it is now. That was your gateway drug.

The Jolt was. What about the sundrop? I'm going to guess it's like 60.

That's my guess. Mountain Dew. I mean, Mountain Dew's like fifty five sundrops. Sixty four.

Wow. Sixty four milligrams. Well, maybe that is a lot of caffeine and maybe these charged things did have a lot of caffeine. I wonder what those pills you get it like the truck stops have like those five hour energy. You know, those little bottles of. Mm hmm.

One hundred milligram pills is a standard variation. And remind me again, the charged lemonades that Panera sold had three ninety for a large. All right.

All right. That seems like a lot, I guess. I mean, they got to get you charged, man. There's a certain level to get charged up, you know. I wonder what the allowable limit is.

None of this is important for our discussion. But now I'm like, what's the allowable? Like what was what what's the most you could put in a.

Four hundred four hundred milligrams a day is which is four or five cups of coffee is an OK amount, according to the FDA is what I'm looking at here. But that'd be a lot. That'd be a lot for a lot of folks. So, Josh, before before we dive headlong, we got to take a quick break. But we want to tell people about these consults. You guys have been offering these over the last month or so.

And and really this can cover a wide range of different things. But just kind of explain the consults. We've got five of them. Yeah, Morgan, what we've been doing and it's worked out well, I think we've been able to help a lot of people as we've been offering a capped number of consults. And we're not limiting in the past.

We've limited it to estate planning. But you can call us if you have like a probate question, divorce, family law question, personal injury, you know, any any issue that our firm handles, which is a lot of stuff. We're doing that for our listeners. So if you call in, Morgan will give you the number. Tell us what you're calling us about and we'll have folks reach out to you and get a free console scheduled. Judica County radio will take a short break. Again, your hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners at Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm, practicing attorneys here in North Carolina, your law firm for life. And joining us as a guest host is Cassandra Nicholas.

Two weeks in a row, special treat. She's out of the Moorhead City office, also an attorney with Whitaker and Hamer. And again, those consults, you can grab one right now by calling 800-659-1186. That's 800-659-1186. And again, leave your name and basically what you need some help with and you'll get a call back from one of the attorneys.

800-659-1186. If you've got a question for the show, you can always email us, info at That's info at We'll take a short break.

We're back right after this. Welcome back into Judica County radio. Your hosts, Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners, Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm, your law firm for life. They're also practicing attorneys here in North Carolina. And joining us also from the Moorhead City office, fellow attorney, Cassandra Nicholas with Whitaker and Hamer. I'm Morgan Patrick, consumer advocate. Just a reminder, Whitaker and Hamer, they're everywhere. Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay Barina, Gastonia, and in Moorhead City. And if you've got a legal situation you're facing, they have consults available for you. We have five that are complimentary this week. You can call 800-659-1186.

That's 800-659-1186. We've been talking about wrongful death, obviously Panera making the news with their charged lemonade and also the challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law. So Josh, take it away. You know, when we went to break, Morgan, we were talking about these wrongful death lawsuits and we talked about, that's kind of what, you know, the O.J. Simpson civil judgment was. We talked about this in the context of Panera Bread and I just wanted to work through the logic there. You know, we were talking about what's an allowable amount of caffeine. That's, I haven't read the wrongful death lawsuits. I just read a news article about it. But in theory, they're based on the fact that these drinks with an excessive amount of caffeine contributed to the death of somebody.

I think there's two or three filed. And that's why they don't say that's why, but Panera's taking them off the market because there's some controversy there. But to prove wrongful death, you're going to have to prove that that was the direct and proximate cause of the death. And that's tough to do when you're not clearly violating. You know, we talked about what the maximal maximum daily allowable limit is. But because I think that'll be that'll be tough for them to prove.

Yeah, I do think that is the hurdle. The two cases that I am aware of and have read a little bit more about, both of those folks had underlying conditions as well that play into what happened to them. However, one of them was a gentleman in Florida who passed away, who did purchase and drink three charged sip drinks from Panera. So that's a question of does Panera like have a responsibility similar to a bar to not over serve?

They had no way of knowing that he was drinking all of them. But for sure, three of them is over daily limit. So I mean, is it is it my understanding that they're out in like a fountain situation where you can just you can serve yourself multiple drinks as if you buy a charged lemonade? I buy my boss's ban on Panera. I'm not really sure. I've been into a Panera bread since about 1999. So that's a good setup.

Morgan, trying to try to catch her. I like that. I'm not I'm not familiar with how they sell or how they used to sell the charged items. And maybe that's something from behind the counter. But usually they have all their their teas and lemonades in a fountain thing where you can just go serve yourself.

If you're eating in the restaurant, you could go back multiple times. And if that's the case, I think that would be a strong argument on Panera's side that folks are choosing how much to consume. On the other side, I do think that the families have strong arguments that the marketing wasn't very clear about how caffeinated these drinks are.

So I don't think people knew they were consuming that much caffeine. Well, again, I like to follow these and see where they see where they end up. A lot of times these things settle. So we may never we may never see, you know, a trial on this or a judge's order or findings of the court is maybe something that that settles and then we'll never hear about it again. But just the fact that they exist always makes us kind of think through it and try to figure out what's going on.

But I want to switch gears a little bit. And I want to talk about the North Carolina voting ID law. And that's being challenged. And that's why it's in the news right now. It's it passed a while ago, but it's being challenged for a whole host of reasons.

We couldn't list all the reasons here if we wanted to all the potential claims. But Cassandra, I don't know if you had a chance to kind of look at that. What's going on with that?

Yeah, a little bit. So the the voter ID law in North Carolina was voted in by the legislature in their like final moments, essentially, with the Republican supermajority before the new folks were sworn in. So that's part of the argument is that that supermajority was under the highly gerrymandered districts. So if their authority wasn't kind of legitimate in the first place, that's one argument against this law. But the law itself requires a photo ID. I was actually surprised even for mail in ballots. Now you're supposed to photocopy your photo ID and include that with your mail in ballot. So that level of restriction, just dealing with the public, there are a lot of folks that don't have a scanner in a printer. That's like an added level to the photo ID issue itself. Yeah, you know, you know, this was this past and I think this is one of those things that on paper, most people maybe like the idea maybe makes sense, especially with all the whether it's justified or not, whether all the, you know, the alleged fraud with mail in voting last election, you know, whether whether you believe it happened or not.

I know there's all kinds of different news out there and different stories, but I think a lot of people on paper, this sounds like a good idea. I think most people would agree that this sounds but but it really is not, you know, historically speaking, any imposition on folks to actually make their vote is disfavored, right? I mean, just generally speaking in court cases and things like that, it's disfavored.

So I don't I don't know how I feel about I don't know exactly how I feel about this one yet. Yeah, so it's at trial right now. The case is the NAACP against the board, the election board chairman. So it's being argued now in live time when we're recording this. So there might be more information about it by the time this goes to air.

But they're arguing. You know, as you said, there's a lot of causes of action for this federal case about this. But some of them revolve around protected classes of people being disenfranchised, because certain ethnicities and races have lower rates of holding photo IDs.

So if you're disenfranchising certain protected groups at higher rates, even if that wasn't the intention, if it's the effect, that that can be a problem. You know, I think I think 1015 years ago, I probably had a different opinion lately here I've been I've been trying to get what's the ID called that you get the star on that you can use for what's that called the real ID real side. I've made two different appointments to get that done.

But I've had to make them so far ahead of time. And like so far away from where I live to like get an appointment like I keep missing them. But it's it's, you know, in our minds, it's who doesn't have an ID, there's a lot of people that don't have an ID, they're not always the easiest to get. It seems like they're getting harder and harder to get doesn't seem like I think the law made some, you know, a free ID that you can get.

They try to make it a little bit easier to get IDs to counter act that argument. But certainly if you don't have an if you don't currently have an ID, getting an ID is not as easy as maybe some people think it would be, I guess, you know, it's very it can be it can be difficult, man. And you know, I've seen a lot of things where that's a big bar for homeless folks in a lot of places. You know, there's a lot of places where that's a huge bar to employment and things like that. Because there's, you know, especially in Vegas, in particular, there's a real difficulty, and it's a real hassle to get an ID for those folks, you know, so it can be a bar for people without a doubt. Yeah, if you don't already have a photo ID, you need other proof of identification to even apply for the photo ID, like social security card, birth certificate, as Joe was saying, on house folks, if they're storing those documents with them, those aren't very secure and can be misplaced go missing. And there's some there's some jurisdictions, you know, not necessarily locally, but there's some places that require you to have like, personal references as well.

Wow, I didn't know that. Yeah. So it's a bar. I was trying to get my stuff together for my real ID. And I was like, having trouble getting like, you know, I live in a house, I have a safe, you know, I still had trouble assembling all the documents that I was gonna need to do it. And I finally was just like, yeah, I'll worry about that when I have to fly next. That's what's gonna happen. There's gonna be an emergency ever. Yeah, I'm just gonna be that guy who just drives everywhere.

You know, procrastination poster boy, Josh Whitaker. But anyway, it again, I think that law, I think everybody sees that law. And it makes sense. Like, yes, you should have to be, you should have to confirm your identity to vote.

That makes sense. But then when you talk about, well, what, what can you use if you don't have a driver's license, or you don't have a, you know, you can get a driver's license, it's just an ID if you can't drive. But it I think it is I think the argument that it is an impediment to keep certain people from voting is a valid argument. And I think the counter argument that it presents prevents fraud is a good argument, too. So I'm kind of like possible, it's possible to have good arguments on both sides of an issue, man, you know, there's that's, that's happens a lot of the time. But there should it seems it's easy. Yeah, it seems like there should be somewhere between state having a good valid, unexpired state issued ID and having nothing right there. So there seems like there should be something in between those two options.

But maybe there's maybe there's not an easy way. I don't know. Judica County Radio, Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners, Whitaker and Hamer law firm. They are your hosts.

And again, Whitaker and Hamer the power behind the program. Our third co host is Cassandra Nicholas this week, and she is out of the Moorhead City also Moorhead City office and she is also an attorney with Whitaker and Hamer. I'm Morgan Patrick consumer advocate, we are going to take a short break. We'll be back on the other side with Q&A question and answer. But we do have those consults. There are five of them and exclusive for our radio listeners. If you have a an issue you're facing and you need some help, you can always call 800-659-1186. That's 800-659-1186. And you can book one of those complimentary consults.

We're back right after this. Welcome back into Judica County Radio, your host, Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners, Whitaker and Hamer law firm. Office is located conveniently for you in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay, Farina, Gastonia, and in Moorhead City, Whitaker and Hamer, your law firm for life. I'm Morgan Patrick, consumer advocate. Josh, we are again having some of your all star attorneys joining us on the program.

Who's up next? Up next, we have attorney Ashley Penner. She is with our firm, has been with our firm for a long time, handles estate planning and trust. Today, our theme has kind of been talking about how you can use your attorney to kind of do some planning. We've talked about business planning. We've talked about family law planning. With Ashley, we're going to talk about estate planning and later on in the show, talk about what happens if you don't do estate planning, what becomes purview of the court, public information, what do you have to deal with if you don't do your planning.

And so Ashley, in that vein, I know one of the things I wanted to talk to you about today, one of the things I wanted to ask you about is this planning process and what you can do to keep your information private, to keep your stuff out of the purview of the court. None of us ever want to have to rely on a clerk's order or a judge's order or get our assets caught up in an estate probate or an estate contest or something like that. And people in that vein, we're going to talk about your estate planning, a will, which I think everybody's pretty familiar with what a will is and what a will can do, that doesn't get you out of probate versus a trust, which a carefully crafted and managed and a monicured trust would keep you out of possibly probate.

So that's where I'll start it with you, kind of the advantages of, what is a trust and kind of the advantages of trust. Yeah, the trust is a legal document that of course you would create as a part of the estate planning process. It can hold assets during your lifetime and then speak to or control what happens to those assets, how they're distributed or how they're held in trust, who they can benefit after your death. And it's the ability of the trust to hold those assets while you're still living that gives you that probate avoidance. They've already been transferred into this legal entity, so to speak, that you've created. You've already designated someone who we call the trustee that's going to be in control of the assets after your death.

And it streamlines that process so that you do avoid the probate process or administration process where a clerk is involved in making sure that what you've said in your will is honored in the administration. So when I was growing up, I was trying to think about earlier today the first time that I ever heard anybody talk about a trust. And I think the first two times that I can remember hearing anybody talk about a trust was, oh man, who was the rich guy on Gilligan's Island? Oh, Mr. Howell. Mr. Howell. Mr. and Mrs. Howell, yeah. And or Beverly Hillbillies.

Beverly Hillbillies a couple of times. And maybe that's why I think about trust. I think about they're just for the rich people. They're just for people with like tons of assets. And that's really not the case.

No, yeah. I definitely grew up thinking the same thing. Anytime I heard them, of course, no one in my family ever had a trust, nor have I ever been the beneficiary of a trust. So most of my actual knowledge of it comes from law school like most of us probably. But it is certainly not reserved for folks that have massive amounts of wealth. I tell a lot of my clients, if the only thing you end up using your trust for is to hold your real estate, you have done yourself and your family a significant service because, again, it's going to really trim up what they have to do and how quickly they can do what they need to do, depending on what that is. So yeah, I've always heard this rule of thumb of five million dollars should have roughly five million dollars in assets before you should even think about or worry with or bother with a trust.

And yeah, not the case. It has so much benefit to so many different folks. You know, and it's kind of one of your biggest estate planning tools. And, you know, a trust is basically, I think of it as, you know, it's kind of like starting a business, right? You start an LLC, you start a corporation, you're starting the law sees that as its own, you know, entity, its own its own thing.

And so I'll talk to people a lot about probate assets and non probate assets. But the trust is like a magic bucket. You can put things in and it, you know, a trust will not trust isn't going to die. It may terminate on its own.

It can only go on for so many years, but in theory, it's going to outlive you. And that's the convenience of it. It's like a it's just kind of oversimplifying and maybe kind of dumb, but I like it as a metaphor. But it's like you put stuff in this bucket and this bucket automatically goes to your heirs.

Yeah. No one looks in the bucket. No one's going to ask you questions about the bucket. You've got some basic asset protection if someone was going to sue or challenge the way you're distributing your things. So it's like this magic vehicle and there's tax advantages and there's other advantages too, but it's this magic vehicle to get stuff to your heirs easily.

And you know, you think about it. If you, if you've got a house with equity and you've got vehicles and you've got your 401k and you've got your investment accounts, we may not think of ourselves as, as having a lot of assets, the average American who might be looking at this, but you've got a lot of assets to protect. Certainly if you, you know, you might have a different stance on that if you're being sued and you start looking at what could become subject to a judgment in the, you know, in the event that one is in place, yes, then you absolutely have a lot of assets. And then, you know, something you mentioned, I think that is also good to point out what the trust is. It has so much flexibility because it is that, you know, that existing entity. It can undergo changes, you know, a little bit more easily than if you're changing how your will distributes your property. There is a lot more rigor involved in the signing of a will than in the signing of a trust. But also the privacy that it brings with it. The fact that, yeah, no one's going to be delving around into that document and no clerk is going to be looking over the shoulder of the trustee to make sure that, you know, they've adhered to the rules in the trust.

It has the privacy that a lot of folks want in keeping all of their business out of court filings. I guess there's certain things we're talking about trust and I've talked to them as magical about being magical and things like that. There's things trust don't do that you need your other estate planning documents to do. So, one of the things that you've pointed out to me before is, well, you know, if you have a good trust, your will is what we call a pour over will, right? Where the will is just saying, hey, anything that I haven't managed to get into my trust, please give it to my trust.

And so that's a pour over will, but there's other things that will can do for you. And Ashley, you always point out to me, I always overlook guardianship, you know, and so that's an important one to think about if you have minor children. Right.

Yeah. Making sure that anyone who's under the age of 18 has that you've been in control of saying who they should be with, who should be caring for them. If you don't have a will, right, you're leaving it up to the courts to determine with whom they should be placed. And also, you know, sometimes, unfortunately, there might be people who you as much as you want other folks to be the guardian of your children, there are folks you don't want to be guardian of your children. And the will is a place where we can make that known as well. If you don't leave a document behind that addresses that at all, it could be the person that you ultimately did not want to be guardian of your children who goes and applies for that guardianship.

And now they are being raised by someone that, you know, in your mind would have never your children would never live with. So a trust is certainly a very important estate planning and can be kind of the primary estate planning vehicle, but it can't do everything that we need. So I tell a lot of my clients, you might have a will and not have a trust. But if you have a trust, you should still absolutely have a will because aside from addressing guardianship, let's say you don't have minor children anymore.

You go out and you acquire assets. Let's say you've you've gotten this trust prepared and you're working on getting everything transferred into it. And then something happens, sudden death and you don't get a chance to continue in your your funding of this trust mission. You've still got a valid will that's going to get everything there. Yeah, I talked to a lot of clients who who who definitely think it's an either or situation like, well, I've already got my trust or I've already got my will, but you really need both of them. And the will handle some things you can't handle with the trust.

And there's also kind of a fail safe there so that that does come up. I know there's other ways we're talking about the trust being this magic bucket which can make otherwise a probate asset, an asset that would have to go through probate, non-probate, private. There's other ways to make probate assets non-probate. Yeah.

Yes. So, you know, you might have things like bank accounts, life insurance, retirement plans. And on all of these assets, you know, we counsel our clients, you want to make sure you have beneficiaries designated. A primary beneficiary and a contingent. And maybe, you know, if you're a married couple with children and you have this trust, you're going to name your spouse as the primary beneficiary, but then you name the trust as the contingent beneficiary. But even on things like bank accounts, you can name a payable on death or transferable on death beneficiary. And these are ways that you can ensure that those assets avoid that probate process.

There's not going to be a significant delay in being able to access those funds. Of course, you'd have to have a death certificate. We don't want people, our designated beneficiaries being able to show up at the bank and say, hey, she died. Can I have her money?

Right? We want them to show that proof through death certificate. But that's going to be a much shorter process than going to the clerk's office and setting up that estate, that probate estate and then transferring the account into an estate account and then documenting for the clerk what funds were in that account. That's going to hold up things.

And particularly if we have a situation where, you know, parents are lost and there are children that, you know, will have needs that need to be tended to, it'll allow for much less disruption in the basic maintenance and care for those minor children. Actually, I think that's I think that's a good discussion today, kind of on this, this using your attorney to plan things out for you, to make your life easier, to keep out of litigation, to keep you out of the court, keep you out of the clerk's office. So I appreciate that. You know, the first step in estate planning is to is to give us a call. If you call Whitaker and Hamer, if you call our law firm and you want to talk about estate planning, you're going to end up talking to Ashley.

And that's for good reason. She handles many, many, many of these every month. And she's she's a good place to start. And we'd be happy to help you with that. But Ashley, I know we'll talk about this again. So we'll we'll see you before too long.

Absolutely. Looking forward to it. That's Ashley Penner again, estate planning with Whitaker and Hamer. We are again visiting with the all star team of attorneys at Whitaker and Hamer hosted by Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer.

Again, hitting a lot of different questions that the firm gets quite a bit of. And folks, if you've got any situation you're facing and you need answers to those questions, you can always call Whitaker and Hamer. Eight hundred six five nine eleven eighty six.

That's eight hundred six five nine one one eight six. Leave your contact information briefly what the call is about. And an attorney with Whitaker and Hamer will be in touch. And you can email your questions to the show. We'll answer them on a future broadcast info at Judica County dot com. When we return on Judica County radio. Yes, we have another attorney and she's very familiar. Cassandra Nicholas joins us. It's about estate planning. We're looking forward to this discussion.

Again, that's coming up on the other side. Welcome back into Judica County radio, hosted by Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer and the power behind this program, where you can find Josh and Joe, the managing partners at Whitaker and Hamer law firm. They're practicing attorneys here in the great state of North Carolina. They have offices located in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay, Verina, Gastonia and in Moorhead City.

If you've got a legal situation you're facing, you've got questions, you need some answers. You can always call Whitaker and Hamer. Eight hundred six five nine one one eight six.

That's eight hundred six five nine eleven eighty six. Leave your contact information briefly. What the calls about an attorney with Whitaker and Hamer will be in touch. And as always, you can email your questions to the show info at Judica County dot com. We'll answer them on a future program. So we have another attorney joining us on the program. Josh, who we got.

All right. So if you're if you've been a regular listener of our show, you know, and already familiar with Cassandra Nicholas, but she is our attorney stationed out of the Moorhead City office who deals with a state administration and probate across the state of North Carolina. But we bring Cassandra on to talk to us about a lot of different things. Today, Cassandra is here to talk about state administration, probate.

You know, those those words kind of go together. But basically, you're dead and someone hopefully someone you've named and planned is taking care of your affairs, taking care of your state, taking care of your assets because you're no longer here. And me and Joseph, we spend a lot of time talking about planning ahead of time using, you know, using your attorney to plan ahead of time to avoid probate. Right. We're going to try to avoid the whole process to the extent that we can to try to keep your information private, keep your heirs or your fiduciaries from having to go downtown and deal with a deal with the judge, keep things moving along. And Cassandra, in that in that vein, I was going to talk to you kind of about what a state administration looks like when you when you can't avoid it.

Right. So you're you're usually only involved if we can't avoid. And we just spent some time talking with Ashley about trust and and planning to kind of keep things out of a probate. Well, let's just say you don't do anything. You never plan and you die.

What's that going to look like? So I absolutely want to funnel people to Ashley. If you're not already in a situation where you need a state administration, please do your estate planning. Trusts are an excellent tool to be able to avoid a state administration entirely. If you're not using a trust or not causing assets to be automatically transferred to your intended recipients by some other means, either as naming them as beneficiaries on specific assets, pay on death beneficiaries on bank accounts, putting folks on vehicles with you as joint with right of survivorship so that those automatically transferred just as a function of generally a contract.

If that's not the case, then there are two camps when you get to me for a state administration. There are folks who did estate planning and have a will and everything, but still need a state administration because there are assets that did not automatically transfer by some other means. So you can die test date with a will with assets that the clerk needs to assign award to your intended recipients, or you get stuck with the state's default rules and that's dying in test date without a will.

And there's nothing inherently wrong with that. The lawmakers did think long and hard about how to come up with the schemes of intestacy and how heirs would inherit. But those default rules aren't necessarily what everyone wants and understanding what those default rules are is important in your estate planning or in considering what happens. A lot of folks don't realize they think if they are married to someone that the default rule must be that their spouse gets everything when they pass. But that's not the case. The intestacy statute, if you have a spouse and children, your assets are split between your spouse and children.

So if you want your spouse to have everything and you don't want it to be split with your children automatically, you want your spouse to have the authority to do what they want with those assets, that needs to be done through estate planning rather than allowing just the default rules to exist. Yeah, that's one of those nightmare situations that we unfortunately see. Everybody thinks, it depends on how old you are, how I'm in my late 40s now, so surely I'll make it to my 70s, right? And people in their 60s, surely I'll make it to 80s. I hope you do.

Thank you, me too. But you always think you've got more time and maybe hopefully you do, but we were in that situation where someone dies way too early. So we've got the situations where the 40-year-old father of three has a heart attack and passes away. It hasn't done any estate planning because that's young, estate planning is hard to think about. And yeah, like you said, if the house isn't owned correctly, we've had a situation where a spouse has inherited with underage kids and trying to get that house sold or dealt with when one of the owners is your four-year-old son is challenging to say the least, right?

Oh, absolutely. Because then we're also dealing with not just the intestacy, not just the estate administration, you also then need to deal with a guardianship in order to... The courts are interested in protecting the assets of minors. So a parent can't just automatically make decisions about real estate that a minor inherited for them.

You need to have permission from the courts to do so. And that is a lot of work time, attorney expense, court fee expenses, mandatory hearings for guardianships to get a guardian assigned. So especially when there are minor children involved, it's important to do the estate planning on the front end because we are here and we're happy to help with all of those, but we want people to be aware that it's definitely going to be added time and expense when you haven't avoided those on the front end.

It's just like anything else. Me and Joe have talked today about business planning. You can do a lot of planning with your operating agreement, with your business assets, so that when someone passes away or when there's a disagreement with a partner, you've already kind of planned out what's going to happen and it doesn't necessarily have to become something that's litigated, right? Our big theme today is things that the courts have to be involved with, things that have to be public versus things that you can keep private and plan around. And so we've talked about that as in business planning, we've talked about Taylor, we've talked about family law planning, if you know prenups, separations, agreements, planning before separation. There's a lot of stuff you can plan and agree to and keep private rather than putting it on display in the kind of public arena. And we've talked to Ashley about estate planning to try to avoid probate, but here, our example, our 42-year-old who passed away way, way, way too early without any notice, he left his family with a lot of trouble because he hadn't planned and that's no knock against him.

That's the way these things go, but to the extent that you can stop what you're doing and think about it. You know, when I was growing up, I felt like trusts were for rich people, right? Rich people had trust, but that's not the case. And I know we also help people administer trust. A lot of folks will create a trust and not have a son or a daughter or a spouse who can run the trust, administer the trust.

So we will do that a lot for folks too. But I was going to ask you, Cassandra, in this public versus private discussion that we're having, if you have to, if you're passed away and your heirs have to go open an estate for you, whether there's a will or not, so they have to just do some estate administration, what kind of information is public at that point? So estate administration files, the entire file is public. So some of the counties have e-filing now. So a lot of this is also available just click the button on anyone's browser. So your heirs, whoever, whoever your heirs are through intestacy, their ages, their addresses, what your assets are, and the exact value of each asset, what your debts are, the claims against the estate. So it's a lot of information that's public, even down to the bank account statements, the account numbers are redacted. And on the online filings, you can't pull those bank statements, but in the physical file, which is public, those are accessible as well.

So yeah, there's a lot out there. I saw, I'm a big wrestling fan, you know, but somebody wrote a book about Ric Flair. It was supposed to be like a biography of Ric Flair. And they did it just, everything was just based on files that could pull in the Mecklenburg County courthouse. So yeah, any estate that he was a beneficiary of, divorces, guardianships, any kind of civil lawsuit, it's all public record. And the guy wrote an entire book just based on what he could get off the public record.

So it's, yeah, yeah, definitely. And then, so I'm happy to keep talking about what's public or not public. But I'd also like to jump back to your example of a 42 year old man who's passed unexpectedly with some debts. There are some tools at our disposal as, or at anyone's disposal in filing estate administrations. If the person has a spouse or children under 18, there are ways to protect a spouse or minor children from creditors up to a certain extent. So it depends on what assets exist, what debts exist. But through a spousal allowance, a spouse can be assigned the first 60,000, currently at 60,000 of personal property. And that's able to be protected from most types of creditors. There are certain types of creditors such as medical creditors that can get at a spouse regardless of a spousal allowance being filed. So there are certain types of debts that a spouse takes on no matter what, essentially.

No, it's, and again, if all this property was in trust, if all this property was positioned in such a way where it did not become an asset of an estate, that really helps. It really helps in everything that we've been talking about. It really helps keep it, your heirs are gonna move easy. Your family is gonna just move. It's a tough situation, but they'll be able to continue on without the angst of having to deal with what you deal with every day.

We're here to deal with that angst for you. But that is something even for my clients that they know their estate administration is happening. It's not completely out of their minds unfortunately, until it's closed. And some of the clerks and courts run a ways behind. Some of this can take a while even with, you know, good attorneys in your corner helping you through the process. So we're here to help, but to be able to move is impossible. Well, Cassandra, it was good to talk to you today. I always appreciate you joining us and thank you. Thank you. Cassandra Nicholas, fellow attorney at Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm, joining us on the program of estate administration.

Again, talking about the different levels of law there. Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer are your managing partners at Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm. And of course, they are the hosts of this show and the power behind the program is Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm.

We are going to take a short break, come back on the other side and wrap this up. Now, if you've got a legal situation that you're facing, remember, you can always call Whitaker and Hamer. They've got offices conveniently located for you in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay-Varina, Gastonia, and in Morehead City where you can find Cassandra Nicholas. The number to call is 800-659-1186.

That's 800-659-1186. Leave your contact information and briefly what the call's about and an attorney will return that call from Whitaker and Hamer. And you can always email your questions to the show, info at That's info at and we will answer those questions on a future broadcast. We'll wrap up more Judica County, coming up. We are back on Judica County Radio. Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm, are your hosts and of course Whitaker and Hamer, the power behind this program. Josh and Joe are practicing attorneys here in North Carolina and also joining us on the show this week, Cassandra Nicholas, fellow attorney with Whitaker and Hamer out of the Morehead City office.

And again, always about legalese, different subjects. We have five consults. We are signing our radio listeners up for today and they are complimentary if you've got any questions about maybe a legal situation in your part of the world, you can certainly grab one of these consults. 800-659-1186.

That's 800-659-1186. We're going to talk about those consults and also do a little bit of a recap. Panera, spiked lemonade or charged lemonade, wrongful death suit that's going on there. And then of course the challenge of the North Carolina voters ID law. But Josh, back to you. You know, one of the things that we're trying to do, you know, like I said, over the past couple of weeks, we've been doing this, we've been offering these free consults and I've really enjoyed it, Morgan, because we've gotten a chance to talk to people who kind of know us from listening to us. And we've also been able to help some folks, you know, some folks meet with us and there's maybe not a lot we can do for them.

They're kind of, you know, it's going to cost some money to kind of fix the issues they have, or maybe they don't need to be fixed right away. So we, you know, when you, this isn't a sales pitch, that's kind of the point of where I'm going. We don't get you in the office. We don't have anything to sell, but our legal services and you either need them or you don't. So this is not, this is not, you know, like a strong arm sales tactic.

This is just an invitation. If a consult fee was keeping you from getting started on a legal issue that you have, what we've seen is this gets people into our office, gets them talking. I've had somebody talk to me about it, something that's been going on for a long time. And we, we put a plan together to solve that problem for them and not having to pay a consultation fee kind of was the thing that got everything moving. And then they saw this problem maybe wasn't as, as hard to solve as they thought they knew exactly what they were dealing with. And for a lot of people, just figuring out that there is a solution, there is a path forward and knowing what it would cost. If it, if it costs money that helps a lot of people, you know, it's like this, this one thing and kind of occupy your, your, your mind can only deal with so many things at one time.

And if you've got this one thing that's occupying your mind and you figure out a way to deal with it, it really opens up like a lot of areas in your life. You know, I was going to say it's a, it's a down to earth conversation. I think people are intimidated, uh, about a law office and coming in and talk about legal situations, but, uh, you guys kind of bring it down to just that normal everyday conversation and get to know them.

Yeah. Try to leave the legalese out of it. Um, all my clients are really savvy folks, but they're not attorneys. So a lot of the initial consultations, I'm just asking questions, trying to get the lay of the land so we can figure out what those best next steps forward are.

I sit down with a lot of people, um, uh, you know, of different, of different backgrounds of different levels of, uh, savviness is a good word that Cassandra used there. Uh, but no matter who they are, I'm sitting down with people who are not attorneys who are not used to litigation, who maybe are from a different state or Carolina does things differently than if you're from New York or you're from California or you're from Ohio. Um, and, and our attorneys are not, not brand new. You know, we don't hire attorneys right out of law school.

All of our attorneys are, I would say seasoned, uh, experienced attorneys. We're not, you're not going to, you're not going to bring me something I've never seen before at this point in my life. So we're, you're going to be able to bring a problem to us. We're going to be able to give you at least one path, maybe multiple paths to a, to a solution.

And, and you're going to be able to move forward one way or the other. And that's really, that's really what we've been trying to do. A lot of times these are estate planning folks who are coming, finally trying to get their estate plan done. Um, you know, I've had people come to us with a family law issues, uh, stuff that came up as a result of a divorce or separation. And, uh, you know, we, we deal with a lot of real property issues.

People that have, uh, title issues or property is deeded the wrong way or an estate was never property. Yeah, absolutely. I've dealt with a lot of those. Yeah.

If you, if you inherit property, but no formal estate was ever done, that can cause you some problems. Um, but there's solutions to those problems and those solutions are much easier now than they will be a year from now or 10 years from now or 20 years from now. And so we've been able to get a lot of people on, on the right path and, uh, you know, we can take that off your plate. We can help you with those kinds of things. And so that's what we're trying to do. Yeah.

Be proactive as opposed to reactive kind of get ahead of it. Uh, certainly an opportunity for you to grab one of these consults right now. Again, 800-659-1186 that's 800-659-1186. You can also email your questions to the show info at judica

That's info at judica and on a future program, we'll check back in, uh, with the wrongful death lawsuit against Panera, but also the challenge to the North Carolina voter ID law. Those are subjects that will be front and center on a future program. But again, we have to say goodbye to you today. I certainly hope you enjoyed the program. And again, big thanks to our hosts, Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners, Whitaker and Hamer law firm, the power behind this program. Of course, our third host Cassandra Nicholas also an attorney with Whitaker Hamer out of the Moorhead city office.

I'm Morgan Patrick. We will see on the radio next week. Judica County is hosted by attorneys licensed to practice law in North Carolina. Some of the guests appearing on this podcast may be licensed North Carolina attorneys. Discussion on this podcast is meant to be general in nature and in no way should the discussion be interpreted as legal advice. Legal advice can only be rendered once an attorney licensed in the state in which you live has the opportunity to discuss the facts of your case with you. The attorneys appearing on this podcast are speaking in generalities about the law in North Carolina and how these laws affect the average North Carolinian. If you have any questions about the content of the show, you can direct such inquiry to Joshua Whitaker at JMW at
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