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Some important considerations for your estate planning

Estate planning involves more than drawing up your will, trust and other documents. It involves making crucial decisions about who will handle your affairs not only after you're gone, but if you become incapacitated to the point where you're unable to make decisions for yourself or take care of your personal and financial obligations.

Further, if you have a substantial estate, there are actions you can take while you're still alive and well to reduce the tax burden on your loved ones and allow them to keep more of the assets you've worked hard to accumulate and ultimately pass along.

You can be arrested for DWI/DUI if you're under the legal limit

As most every driver knows, it's illegal in North Carolina and across the country to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or higher. You can be arrested for DWI/DUI if a Breathalyzer test puts you over the limit even if you've exhibited no other indication that you're under the influence and haven't been swerving, speeding or committing other traffic violations. Under the law, this is called "per se intoxicated."

However, in some situations, a person with a BAC of under .08 percent can still be arrested for DWI/DUI. One example is if you are noticeably impaired. This can happen when someone combines alcohol with certain medications. One glass of wine paired with a Xanax or even cold medicine could make you noticeably impaired. You might be well under the legal limit for drunk driving, but you could still face DWI/DUI charges.

When planning your estate, leave some things out of your will

A will is one of the most important documents in an estate plan. However, there are some things you shouldn't or legally can't include in a will. In some cases, that's because they need to be addressed in other documents or by making other arrangements. In other cases, they are illegal and therefore unenforceable.

Assets with a beneficiary. These don't need to be in a will, because the beneficiaries are already designated. This can include retirement and investment accounts, life insurance policies, stocks and payable-on-death bank accounts. Note that any property held in joint tenancy automatically goes to the surviving owner when one dies, so that doesn't need to be included either.

If a North Carolina police officer asks you to do this, be aware

You may be among many people in North Carolina and elsewhere who get nervous when they see a police officer in uniform. Even if a cop pulls you over and you are fairly confident you were not breaking the law in any way while driving, the sight of an officer approaching your vehicle might be enough to make your blood pressure soar. This type of stress causes many motorists to mistakenly believe that police can do whatever they want during traffic stops.  

They can't. You have rights and no one can undermine those rights, including police. One of the things you can definitely expect to happen if an officer has stopped you on suspicion that you've been drinking is that he or she will likely ask you to step out of your car. Once you do, it is critical that you remember everything that the officer says and does from that point on, especially if it involves a field sobriety test. 

Protecting the privacy of data on your devices at the border

Thanks to a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, law enforcement officers don't have the right to search the contents of your smartphone without a warrant even if you're under arrest. The same right to privacy, however, doesn't apply if you're entering or exiting the U.S. Lower court rulings have been inconsistent in addressing the extent to which searches of electronic devices are allowed at the border.

It's not uncommon for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents to search the electronic devices of travelers at ports of entry into the U.S., including airports. The number of these searches has increased significantly in the past few years. The federal government has argued that the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from warrantless searches, doesn't apply to people entering or leaving the U.S.

How you can protect a child with a spendthrift trust

You're finally taking the step of putting an estate plan in place. You hope you'll be around for decades to come, but you never know. You've worked hard your entire adult life and have considerable assets to show for all of that hard work. You want your children to inherit that money.

However, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars or more to young adults (and even older ones) isn't always wise. Maybe one of your kids is a paragon of caution and knows the value of a dollar. The other one -- whom you love just as much -- believes in living for the moment, no matter what it costs. How do you see that this child is included in your estate while protecting them from blowing through the money and soon having nothing left?

Wake Forest coach arrested for fatal altercation

A Wake Forest University basketball coach is facing criminal charges and has been suspended from his job after a tragic incident that left a man dead.

Coach Jamill Jones was in New York City earlier this month. He was in his SUV outside of a hotel in Queens when he encountered a 35-year-old man from Florida who was in the Big Apple to attend a family wedding.

What is 'undue influence?'

One of the most common reasons that people challenge a will or other estate plan documents after a person's death is "undue influence." This is when someone coerces (mentally, physically and/or morally) a testator to the point where that person isn't designating the dispersion of their assets as they would if they were exercising their own free will.

Not all influence is "undue." For example, a wife may talk her husband into agreeing to disburse their assets among their children in a different way than he originally planned to. That's not considered the kind of coercion or domination that characterizes undue influence.

Arrests lead to suspension of entire city's police force

One North Carolina town has lost its entire police department -- at least temporarily. The whole thing started with the arrest of the Southport's police chief and his lieutenant on July 26.

The two men, both in their 40s, were charged with falsely obtaining property, obstruction of justice and failing to discharge their duties. They're accused of driving for a trucking company while they were on duty with the Southport Police Department.

Did drinking get you into legal trouble in North Carolina?

If you're age 21 or more, there's nothing necessarily wrong (at least, legally) with consuming alcohol, provided you do so in a manner that does not negatively affect your life or those around you. It's no secret that alcohol-related issues often wreak havoc in people's lives, as many North Carolina residents can attest. Depending on your reasons for drinking, how you drink, where you drink, with whom, etc., it may or may not be a serious problem in your life.

As for why people drink, there are several main factors that may prompt certain people to drink more than others. If you're struggling with alcohol addiction, you can take comfort knowing there are strong support systems in place to help you overcome your problem.

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