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When You Need a Lawyer We Have questions You Can ask to select the best one for your Case

Outlaw Lawyer / Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer
The Truth Network Radio
June 8, 2024 2:00 pm

When You Need a Lawyer We Have questions You Can ask to select the best one for your Case

Outlaw Lawyer / Josh Whitaker & Joe Hamer

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June 8, 2024 2:00 pm

Coming up on this edition of Judica County Radio we give you important questions to ask when you are trying to choose an attorney to work with. Question and answer today centering around estate planning and trusts and the importance of having all of this in place. 

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Coming up on Judica County Radio, Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm, the power behind the program, are going to get into top 10 questions to ask a lawyer when you are trying to select an attorney. All right, you want to work with them.

What questions should you be asking in the interview process? That's all coming up next on Judica County Radio. Welcome in to Judica County Radio.

Your hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer. They're the managing partners at Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm. They're practicing attorneys here in the great state of North Carolina.

They have put offices conveniently located for you in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay-Varena, Gastonia, and in Morehead City. I'm Morgan Patrick, consumer advocate. Each and every week, it's always legalese, hot topics, and more.

So what's going on in the legal world? And some useful information for you. And we offer up five consults that are complimentary. We'll tell you about those as we move through the program. Again, Josh Whitaker, Joe Hamer, managing partners Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm.

Josh will bring you in top 10 questions to ask a lawyer when you are trying to select an attorney to work with. We're going to get to that. But first, guys, how was your week? It was good. It was good.

My kids are out of school, so my kids are home. They're teaching me how to play Madden. I used to play Madden all the time.

I'm trying to get in shape for the NCAA college football game that's being re-released this year. They haven't had one in, what, 10 years? I think that's right. Is that right, Joseph?

That's right, man. Sounds like you've had a fantastic week. I'm happy for you. I have played video games. Of course, I played video games growing up. I played video games through college. And you have a kid or two and then you're probably too busy, right?

And then they get all the eggs. I never stopped. I never stopped. I didn't even stop to take care of my kids, man. I just kept playing. I said, your dad needs to play this game.

And they understood, man, from a very young age. So I haven't played Madden. I probably haven't played Madden in 10 years besides just like a one-off with one of the kids or something. And I've gotten really bad.

I'm behind the curve. And so we're playing a season. We drafted our teams and playing on all Madden difficulty level. That's a mistake for you, man. It's tough. It's tough. Is this a throwback Madden or is this current roster? No, this is 2024.

Everything current. Do your kids beat you? Well, I played my oldest and he did beat me in just a play now, but we haven't met yet in the season.

So we just started a season. Okay, okay. So you said he did beat you or he did not beat you? Well, he was beating me and I quit at halftime. You quit? You rage quit? No, it was getting late.

I was like, son, I have to get to work. Do you want me to beat Mikey for you, man, as your proxy? No, no. I'm going to put in the hours. I'm going to neglect the law firm.

I'm going to put in the hours. You know what the move used to be back when I played high school football, look up my career when you get a chance, illustrious career. But we would play what I was, what I was legitimately good. I was good at Madden and we'd play in locker room before. And we always had the one kid. This was before the days of a wireless controller. And so you'd have the one kid where if you're beating them, you'd go to like kick a field goal to win the game. They'd yank the controller and let you get a game. Did you ever have that kid? Yeah, we had those kids. You can't use that move anymore, man, with the wireless controllers.

You just got to hold up the system. When I was growing up, Madden, like when I was in college, Madden kind of, at least for for my group of friends, fell out of favor. And we were playing NFL 2K on the on the Dreamcast and then game day on the PlayStation. So like, I really haven't been good at Madden in a long time. But if these kids want to play NFL 2K on the Dreamcast, they they got. But anyway, the whole point of this is I'm excited that this NCAA football game is going to come out.

And I've seen in a lot of like online conversations, there's a lot of guys like me, a lot of old guys who are really excited about this game and are going out buying the PlayStations and buying the Xboxes and getting ready for it. So I got one more Madden story before we move on from Madden. I had a cousin because Madden fell out of favor, but it came back, man. And I had a cousin who was in college when it was probably at its peak, man.

And this guy is no lie. I'm not going to say his name in case he's a listener on the show, but he played he played Madden so much. It was like all he was doing. He burnt, he burnt a hole in the disk. He had a PlayStation and he literally burnt a hole in the disk multiple times where he had to just go buy a new Madden because he just kept burning holes through the game from playing it so much.

This was the play. Well, this was the PlayStation 2, right? It would have been a PS2. Yeah, it would have been a PS2. Because PS2s are terrible.

That's what turned me towards Xbox. I got really, I know you did too, Joe, better than me, but I got really good at Guitar Hero in college. And the kids today don't play the Guitar Hero. No, man, I keep wondering if it'll make some kind of a comeback. And there's an element like the, you know, the kids play the Fortnite these days, right? Yeah.

And so they put like a Guitar Hero-esque mode on that recently. But yeah, man, that was a big thing. You didn't have things like that until you did.

And then it was it was really cool. But I bought a lot of time. I put too much time into that, man.

Far too much time. Well, believe it or not, me and Joseph are attorneys. We're the managing partners of Whitaker and Hamer. We're here today as we come to you every week to talk about legal news. We're not, somebody asked me when we're going to talk about the Trump legal proceedings. And we haven't talked about that in a long time. We have to. We're not going to do that today either. But we will have to sit down and just talk about all of the Trump legal proceedings from an attorney's perspective, because this last this last trial, I've just seen all kinds of different folks come out of the woodworks and analyze it from a legal perspective. And we'll do that one day. But today is not the day. Today we got a list I want to go through because I think it's pretty helpful.

It's a list somebody sent to me, but it's the top. Basically, you're going to interview your lawyer. You've scheduled a consult with an attorney and it gives you 10 questions to ask your lawyer. Your lawyer is going to ask you a lot of questions about what's going on, try to figure out how they can help you. But I think these are some fair questions, even maybe before you schedule a consult. Maybe you can Google and figure some of these out.

But these are good questions to ask an attorney that you're going to be going to to help you solve a legal issue. But that's that's kind of what we're going to do today. We got some Q&A like we always do.

But we're going to we're going to make some headways on this list. Top 10 questions to ask a lawyer. You're locked into Judica County radio again. Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer are your hosts of the managing partners. Whitaker and Hamer law firm. Again, practicing attorneys here in North Carolina started off with the video game Nerd Off.

No, I'm kidding. I mean, again, everybody's into video games, but these are interesting. I think this is interesting because, you know, there are people out there that need legal assistance, but you don't hear a lot of people talk about, well, how do I how do I pick a lawyer? So I like this. Josh, you've got 10 of these questions. We'll try to get to as many as we can in the first couple of segments of the show today. Then we'll have some Q&A and then we'll come back and we'll wrap it up. But let's let's go with the questions. All right.

Number one. And this is kind of it's kind of phrased weird. We can break it down and make it sound better. But are you a generalist or a specialist lawyer?

I don't like I don't like how that question sounds. But basically, I would say, are you a general practitioner or is this something you specialize in? Is this an area of law that you specialize in and specialize as a specialized an expert or are kind of words that have a lot of meaning in the legal community? You know what those mean, Joseph? Yeah, I know. I'm a yeah, man. I'm a I'm a specialist that understanding the words that you say on this radio show.

But yeah, I know what those words mean, man. And I think it's important to you know, we talk about we talk about in North Carolina, like, you know, becoming certified in a certain field. Like there are certain things you can do to become certified and to be recognized as a specialist in the field. And while that's all good and well, that's not the be all end all right. Like you don't have to have someone who has some kind of special certification in an area of law. You're more interested, not so much if whether they're a generalist or a specialist with whether they have relevant experience in the thing that you need. Right. That question's coming up later.

But, Joseph, I agree with you. There is just so you know, when when a lawyer says there is specialist or an expert in North Carolina, that means they have taken a test through the state bar. They've been peer reviewed. And so if the lawyer says, look, I am an expert in a board certified expert in personal injury law. That means they've taken this extra step to be recognized by their their peers.

And so that's a that's a word you don't throw around. So I could say for the past 20 years, the only thing I've done is personal injury law. And you can say, hey, Josh, you have a lot of experience in personal injury, but I can't say that I'm a specialist. That's an important distinction. And some attorneys go for that extra step to become a specialist.

And some people don't. I think this question was really just trying to ask, are you the type of attorney that takes everything that walks in or do you concentrate your practice in certain areas? And I think that's kind of what they meant with this question. That's a good question. If you have a very specific legal matter, like let's say you've got you know, you've got an estate administration problem.

Someone's passed away and you're trying to get an estate opened and handle some creditors and some real property. I think that's a fair question. Like, hey, do you handle a state administration is something you do regularly.

When was the last time you you did it? So I think that was the this question was trying to get at. Yeah. A lot of people make a mistake. My friends and family included.

Right. Like I'll have people come to me. And and just like you, Josh, we do a lot of things, but we don't practice every single area of the law. And so I have people who I really love and care about that I'd love to help. And they come and they're like, can you do this thing for me? And I can't do that thing for them.

And and and so I think it's super important, man. Find out what the relevant experience is and if they have if they're comfortable with that type of matter. Guys, I've got a question for you and you can just hit this real quick and we'll take a short break and come back and we'll talk about these other questions. But if something like that comes in to your office and maybe it's not quite in your wheelhouse, you refer out. Is that what you do? You give them a direction to go in? Yeah.

Yeah. There's there's a there's a bunch of resources where North Carolina Bar Association has a line that can help you find an attorney in your practice area. We we also just from having practice for 20 years, you know, we know attorneys in the area who can who can help you.

So even if we can't help you, we're usually pretty good at getting into somebody who can. Judica County radio. We are talking about the questions you need to be asking of a lawyer when you're trying to pick an attorney for your particular situation.

We'll talk about more of those questions when we return. But Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners, Whitaker and Hamer law firm, your host of Judica County radio. We have five consults available.

They are complimentary and they can be about what you're going through, folks. So you can call right now and grab one 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 call's about. And an attorney will be in touch again. Five complimentary consults available today.

Eight hundred six five nine one one eight six. We're back with more Judica County radio right after this. We're back on Judica County radio, your host of Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer managing partners, Whitaker and Hamer law firm, the power behind this program. Again, they are practicing attorneys here in North Carolina. I'm Morgan Patrick, consumer advocate offices located for Whitaker and Hamer. Very convenient for you.

Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay, Verina, Gastonia and in Morehead City. We are opening up five complimentary consults today on the program for our listeners. If you've got a legal situation, get one of the consults. Eight hundred six five nine one one eight six.

That's eight hundred six five nine eleven eighty six. Leave your contact information, your name, and they'll be in touch with you and they'll sign you up for one of those complimentary consults. We're hitting questions to ask a lawyer when you are trying to select an attorney to work with, depending on your case. Josh, take it away. All right.

Well, we only got through one during the last segment, so we'll we'll plow ahead here. But these are questions you might not ask your lawyer, your potential lawyer specifically. You might Google, you might glean a lot of this from their website or their other materials. But anyway, things that you definitely want to know about your attorney, if it's an attorney you're going to consult with or thinking about hiring, hiring. Number two on our on our list is how long have you practiced law? And so I think that's a pretty fair question. Another experience based question. Yes, you take it.

I think that's a good question to ask. And you technically you come out of law school and you're you've got a license. You can you can practice any type of law you want to practice. The bar has some the North Carolina bar has some rules about how you get up to speed and you can't, you know, take things that you're unqualified to take and then in ways you become competent. But technically, you graduate from law school day one.

You can take anything that you feel like you could become competent in. And so asking your attorney, you know, you know, like I said, you asked me, it's 20 years and that feels like an eternity. When I say it, it doesn't sound as long. I feel like it should be 60 at this point.

But it's it's just it's just 20. But that's still two decades. Two decades. That's two long decades, man.

And I ain't too far behind you, brother. But, you know, and that's not to say that experience is everything, but it's a lot, man. You know, I can recall graduating law school knowing a lot about the theory of law. But you you don't have a lot of practical experience, man.

You can't get a lot of practical experience until you have it. So you ever you ever get that? You remember when you were a young man and you didn't look as old as you look now and I look now? You ever get that?

Are you even old enough to be an attorney? I used to get that. So I've always looked anymore.

Never. I don't I don't get that anymore. I came out of law school very gray already and and and bearded. Right. And I think if you have a gray beard, people give you the benefit that they don't ask.

They just assume you've been whatever you're doing, you've been doing it for a while. There's a stand up comedian. Is it his last name?

Slay? I can't remember his name, but he's got he's got like a big beard and he's got this whole bit about wherever he's at. People think he works there. Like he'll go to Home Depot and people just ask him questions. Or he goes to the grocery store and people ask him questions like but it's really funny. You should look him up.

I think it's Dustin Slay. I think that's his name, but he's got a bit about that. But I think people just assumed I had some sort of experience like right out of the gate. So no, I never got that man.

Never happened. OK, good for you. All right.

The next one I would. Yeah. All right.

I like this one. The next one I'm going to talk about anyway is besides the law degree. Right. We're assuming your attorney has a law degree. So besides the law degree. Do you have any kind of special training or insights that may apply to my case? And so if you've got a business law question and you're you're you've got an attorney who is also a CPA, that happens sometimes.

Right. There's some business law attorneys that have their law degree. They may have a business undergrad degree and they may be a certified public accountant on top of that. And so that's a situation where they be like, well, I'm a CPA. There's a lot of criminal attorneys that used to be in law enforcement or used to be prosecutors.

Right. That's kind of an interesting thing to know about somebody you might you might hire. We have special training or insights. We talked about specialization.

That could be a thing that that attorney has besides just a law degree. You know. Yeah. Yeah.

20, 20 years experience in a really gray beard. That could be a that could be. Yeah. We got it. We should throw something in about the gray beard. For sure. I just instead of being Whittaker, they'll just be Josh Graybeard.

Yeah. Just lead with that. I'll take my name off right now. We changed the firm's name. I'm fine with that, man.

All right. This is and this next one's important to how do you bill your we've had we've talked about this several times on the show. But how do you bill your fees and cost? And an attorney might not talk to you about that ahead of time. An attorney is probably going to want to consult with you and figure out what you're up against because attorneys bill different legal items, different ways.

Yeah. You know, different attorneys bill different ways and different matters are billed differently. So the most common arrangements you're going to see is you're going to we'll start off with just a flat fee arrangement, which is going to be like you need this thing. This is what it's going to cost. All inclusive. One time fee. You're in and you're out.

That's it. You can also have an hourly fee arrangement with or without a retainer. So most of the time when you're going to have someone billing hourly, they're going to get a retainer up front. They're going to keep that money in trust and they're going to gradually bill to it and they'll deduct from it.

They run out, they'll replenish. And that's the way that's going to function. And then the last type is just a contingency fee arrangement, which you're typically not going to see unless it's some kind of personal injury case is the most common example. And that's where the attorneys generally not going to get paid anything unless you get paid.

And then they're going to take a percentage of whatever that recovery is. So I'd say you think I cover that the three. Would you say that the big three of fee arrangements?

Yeah. And different attorneys are more comfortable billing different ways. So one attorney may you may get one of them like, all right, I'll do that for blank.

I'll do it for a flat fee. And another attorney may be like, nope, you're going to give me a retainer. I'm going to bill against it hourly so that, you know, there's certain certain some attorneys are anyway.

It can just be different. And you definitely need to understand how you're going to get billed, what it's going to cost you. Some attorneys will ballpark it if it's something they've seen before. Sometimes you're not able to ballpark it because, you know, some of these legal problems are like, you know, like the onions. Right. They have layers and you find a new problem once you solve the first problem.

And so sometimes it can be hard. But that's that's certainly super important. How do you bill fees and costs? And a lot of attorneys will bill you. They'll have their fee. They'll say, hey, I charge blank an hour and I'll keep my time. And that's how I'll bill you. But then you also have to pay cost separately. So sometimes it's copying cost, sometimes, you know, fees to the courthouse, the clerk, things like that. So anyway, fees and costs. An attorney with experience should be able to give you.

And I should tell you exactly how they're going to charge you and then give you an idea of what what things will will cost most of the time. Well, the next question is it's kind of it's kind of an oddball question. I wouldn't have seen this one coming. It's kind of interesting, though. What is your approach to winning my case? Oh, usually I like to I like to approach it with a winning attitude. That's where I start. Positive. Yeah.

I start my day with a lot of positivity and a winning attitude. And I don't know, man. You know, and that's funny because, you know, that's relevant. And, you know, if you're coming to somebody, you're looking to be litigious or you got some kind of situation where you're suing somebody. You're trying to resolve some kind of contentious issue. But there's a lot of areas of the law where they're you know, it's not there's not really a win. Right.

Like, I guess you could lose with shoddy legal word, but it's not necessarily like a one v one competition. But but no, that's an interesting question, man. And I think the answer, like many things with the law is going to be. It depends.

Right. It definitely depends on the nature of your issue. And I always approach any legal problem kind of from like a businessman perspective. Like what's what what's what's the what's the best outcome we can get for the for the for the energy, for the funds, for the resources that you have. Sometimes you have some people come in and they're really angry for valid reasons that, you know, they've been sued or they, you know, a contract's been breached.

And I like to talk about what's the perfect resolution for you, you know, and how do we think we can get there? And and I kind of like to look at it from all sides. But obviously you need to have the same opinion of your case as your attorney is.

I've had people come meet with me. They think they have the best case in the world. I respectfully disagree with them. I'm like, hey, you definitely have a case. But, you know, it's not a slam dunk.

Here are your problems. Here's what the other side is going to say. You know, we've been doing this long enough.

We know what the other side is going to say or should say. Anyway, I kind of like that. Go ahead. No, man. How many people have you ever told this is a slam dunk to? Because I know me personally, man, I'm very hesitant to call one a slam dunk. Well, you're not supposed to. Even if you think it's a slam dunk, you don't get a bar. You get the bar. You can't guarantee results on a case.

That's how I want to be. I won't even wink at him and be like, this is an S. I'm always I'm always very cautious, man. Wait, wait, wait, wait. You don't call you don't call your shot. It's gone. No, man, I don't. After. Here we go.

As we get to the finish line right before it goes in, I got Kobe. I don't like to get ahead of myself. No, but but a good attorney should be able to look at your case and say, hey, you know, you got a better than 50 percent chance, in my opinion, or you got less than a 50 percent chance. And how can we negotiate this? Is this something we can mediate instead of getting 20?

If you got ten thousand dollars out of them, is that puts you back in a better place? You know, anyway, I like that question. What is your approach to winning a case? You know, coming out of law school, there were lawyers in our in our class that wanted to come out and be trying to think of a good word for this. Like just aggressive, you know, and you run into them even today. Like I'll get something from somebody who's just sometimes it's a shark, sometimes it's a bulldog. Right. But they come in.

I don't think that aggressive mindset, it may be in criminal matters, but, you know, anyway, it doesn't always serve you well. Sometimes you try to find the best the best path forward, given all the variables. But I know we're up against a break. Morgan, Judica County radio. We are going to continue with some of the questions when we wrap up the program.

We've got Q&A coming up next again. Judica County radio hosted by Josh Whittaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners at Whittaker and Hamer. And we have a third special guest host. Apparently, Josh's beard has taken on its own personality here on the program.

So we've got Josh, Joe and Gray Beard hosting the show today. There is an opportunity for you to get a free complimentary consult with Whittaker and Hamer. All you've got to do is call 800-659-1186.

We have five of them slotted for this week. Grab one right now. 800-659-1186. If you're facing a legal situation, got questions, grab a consult.

800-659-1186. We've got more Judica County with Q&A coming up next. Welcome back into Judica County radio, your host, Josh Whittaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners, Whittaker and Hamer law firm.

Offices located conveniently for you in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay, Farina, Gastonia and in Moorhead City. Whittaker 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 Pinner. 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 talked about business planning. We talked about family law planning with Ashley. We're going to talk about estate planning and and later on in the show to talk about what happens if you don't do estate planning. What's what becomes purview of the court, public information? What do you have to deal with if you if you don't do your your planning?

And so, Ashley, in that vein, I know one of the things I wanted to talk to you about today, one thing I want to ask you about is this planning process. You know, 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 a state probate or a state contest or or something like that. And people in that vein, you know, we're going to talk about, you know, your estate planning 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 I carefully crafted and managed and monicured trust would keep you out of possibly probate.

So that's where I'll start it with you. Kind of the advantages of, you know, 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 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 in the administration. So when I was when I was growing up, I think the first 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, it was his name. Mr. Howell. Mr. Howell. Yeah. And or Beverly Hillbillies.

Beverly Hillbillies a couple of times. But 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 and and that's really not the case.

No. Yeah, I definitely grew up thinking the same thing. Any time I heard them, of course, no one no one in my family ever had a trust or nor have I ever been the beneficiary of a trust. So most of my my actual knowledge of it comes from law school, like like most of us, probably. But it is certainly not reserved for folks, you know, that have massive amounts of wealth. I tell a lot of my clients, you know, if if the only thing you end up using your 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, you know, five million dollars. You 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 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 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 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 this is 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. 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 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 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 they've adhered to adhered to the rules in the trust.

It has the privacy that a lot of folks want and 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 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. So that's a pour over will.

But there's there's other things that will can do for you. And actually, you always point out to me, I always overlook guardianship. You know, that's an important one to your 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 talk 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. Well, 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 you 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. They're 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, there's 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 clerk, deal with a deal with a 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 beneficial 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 transfer 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 there's nothing inherently wrong with that. The lawmakers did think, you know, long and hard about how to come up with the schemes of intestacy and how errors 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 in considering what happens. A lot of folks don't realize they think if 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 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, you know, 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, it's one of those it's one of those nightmare situations that that we we unfortunately see, you know, everybody everybody thinks depends on how old you are, how you know, I'm in my late 40s now. Surely I'll make it from my 70s. Right.

And people in their 60s. Surely I'll make it. I hope you do. Thank you.

Me too. But 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. You know, so we we've got the situations where the 40 year old father of three has a heart attack and passes away.

You know, it hasn't done any estate planning. That's that's young estate planning is hard to think about. And yeah, like you said, like, you know, if the house isn't owned correctly, you know, we've had a situation where a spouse is 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 the intestacy, not just the estate administration. You also then need to deal with a guardianship in order to the 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 you know that 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 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, you know, we've talked me and Joe have talked today about business planning. You know, 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. So we've talked about that as business planning.

We've talked about Taylor. We've talked about family law planning. If you know, you know, prenup, 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, you know, we've talked to Ashley about estate planning, try to avoid probate. But here, you know, 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 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 who can run the trust, administer the trust.

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? 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 it's a lot of information that's public, even down to the bank account statements, the 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, yes. So, yeah, there's a lot out there. I saw I'm a big, big wrestling fan. You know, but somebody wrote somebody wrote a book about Ric Flair.

It was like 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 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 did off the public record. So it's.

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 sixty thousand currently at sixty thousand 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 you know, 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, you know, that that really helps.

It really helps in everything that we've been talking about. It really helps keep it, you know, your heirs are going to move easy. Your family is going to 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 that is something even for my clients that they 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 runaways behind some of this can 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 possible. Well, Cassandra, it's good to talk to you today. I always appreciate you joining us.

And thank you, Cassandra. Nicholas, fellow attorney at Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm, joining us on the program of state 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 is 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. Your hosts are Josh Whitaker and Joe Hamer, managing partners at Whitaker and Hamer Law Firm.

Offices conveniently located for you in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay-Varina, Gastonia and in Morehead City. I'm Morgan Patrick, consumer advocate. Go back and forth on so many legal topics here on the program. But we also are here to help. We have consults available, five of them for our radio listeners.

They are complimentary. You can call and grab one right now. 800-659-1186.

That's 800-659-1186. Alright guys, we're through the Q&A. We've been talking also about questions you need to ask a lawyer when you're trying to pick an attorney for whatever you're facing. I've been having some fun with that.

But Josh, take it away. Yeah, yeah. So we've been working on this list of ten questions to ask a lawyer. This is your perspective lawyer. You're thinking about hiring.

I like another one of these questions I wanted to do. I wanted to do, how will you inform me of my case progress? So this is a big issue. You see a lot of attorneys get in trouble with communication issues. How are you going to keep the client aware of what's going on, knowing that a lot of these legal matters take a long time. There won't be a development every day. So I usually talk to my clients about that.

You know, like, hey, you can email me. We're going to update you. You're going to get a monthly statement. You'll know what's going on. But that does not mean your attorney is going to call you every day, even if there's no development. Right. So that's how you tell people when something when something happens or I need something from you. You know, I'll be we'll be reaching out, but we're not just going to call you every day to say, hey, nothing happened today. Everything.

Yeah. One of the one of the core tenants of this firm is is, you know, that communication piece and setting client expectations. And so that's one thing that we try to do a great job in every practice area is letting you know what to expect in terms of that communication. So, you know, you won't be surprised, disappointed.

And we'll meet those expectations. Yeah, we give you those kind of things in writing, like up front. You know, we we have engagement agreements that kind of, you know, we talked about earlier, making sure you know how you're going to pay, how we're going to charge, how you're going to get updates.

Are you OK by email, by text, by phone? You know, we have a pretty intelligent system that uses the AI, uses the artificial intelligence that helps us keep you apprised of what's going on. The AI. The old AI. You're hearing a lot about the AI nowadays. We were talking about we were talking about artificial intelligence a long time ago.

I was gonna say two years ago, but I don't remember when. Head of the curve. But anyway, I thought that was pretty good. And let me see if any. I know we're we're we're we're running out.

We're on the way to running out of time. But here, I like this one. We talked about this a little bit, but it says, is there another way to solve my legal problem?

And I like this. I like that, though, because because, yeah, there's there's there's a lot of different ways once you figure out what what resolution. Here's like, you know, in a perfect world, I'll get twenty five grand and I don't have to carry this out for a couple of years. But would you be happy with fifteen grand and a quicker resolution and less legal fees out of pocket? You know, there's all kinds of ways to tackle legal problems. It's usually not one way or the highway. There's usually a couple of different ways. I like that question. You look at it from a couple in your experience as an attorney.

Are there other ways that we can get to get to a resolution to resolve this legal issue? If not, that's fine. But usually there is. Usually there's something else to look at.

Let me see. I think we've I think we've had all these big questions. And like I said, you can probably glean a lot of this off. Most attorneys have pretty tuned up websites these days and with social media and everything else.

You know, you can get a good idea of what somebody is about before you you get in front of them. But definitely in a console, these are definitely things you can you can you can throw at a lawyer. And and there's a lot of us floating around. There's a lot of I think they're great questions.

I mean, you're facing a legal situation and these are things these are questions you can ask an attorney so you can better pick the lawyer that you need to be working with. Now, last thing I want to get to before we take our break and say goodbye for the week is you guys both watch Netflix recently. So give us a quick movie review. You watch the the latest Godzilla.

Is that correct? Well, it's not the latest, I don't think, because there was a Godzilla. There was a Kong Kong. What was the Kong X Godzilla Kong multiplied by Godzilla? That was OK. How about the latest without Kong? And I saw that one, too. I saw that one, too. I give that one a I give it I give it one and a half thumbs out of four.

Oh, that's pretty low. That's my rating system. All right. So I love Godzilla growing up. My oldest loves Godzilla. We love Godzilla. But the downfall of all these Godzilla movies, too much story that I just don't care about. Yeah.

I don't care about the people. You'd like that you'd like that Kong multiplied by Godzilla. Then, man, not a lot of story there. A lot of Godzilla. Godzilla steps on the people.

Does that help? He's got to see people get destroyed, man, therefore. And I don't like King Kong. I'm never King Kong.

OK, me too. I am in agreement with you there. I'm not a King Kong person. I don't understand how Godzilla has not killed King Kong. It shouldn't be a fair fight, man. It should not be a fair fight. But I just want to say Godzilla.

I think we add that to the list of things to ask your attorney. Yes, absolutely. Are you a Godzilla fan?

Who do you support in the battle? If I go sit down with an attorney and they're like, you know what? Godzilla movies need more story.

I'm like, no, you're not the one for me, buddy. Your attorney just pulls out a Godzilla toy and starts walking across the table. Sign that guy up. OK, well, another edition of Junica County Radio is in the books.

We need the Godzilla roar right there. Josh Whittaker and Joe Hamer managing partners. Whittaker and Hamer law firm. They're your hosts. They're practicing attorneys here in the great state of North Carolina. Offices conveniently located for you in Raleigh, Garner, Clayton, Goldsboro, Fuquay, Verina, Gastonia and Moorhead City.

Free consults. We have five of them. You can grab one right now. Eight hundred six five nine eleven eighty six. That's eight hundred six five nine one one eight six.

So another edition's in the books. 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 MWH Law Lawyer.
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