Q. Do I need a Living Trust to avoid the expense of probate?
In Mr. Sneed’s experience, most people do not have the amount of assets that would justify setting up a living trust. Living trusts can cost several thousand dollars initially and require that you file separate annual federal and state tax returns. Any future changes to your estate plan may be cumbersome and expensive. There are some who need this type of extensive estate planning, but for many people a complex estate plan is unnecessary. Never allow a financial planner or tax professional to prepare estate planning documents for you. The only person qualified to advise you and prepare these important documents is a licensed North Carolina attorney.
Q. I sold my property this year, so why have I received the property tax bill?
The tax department is required to issue a bill to the person who owned the property on January 1 of the current year. If you sold your entire piece of property, you likely paid your portion of the taxes to the Buyer at closing. You should forward the tax bill on to the Buyer so that they may pay the bill. If you sold only a portion of your property, the Buyer likely paid you for their share of the tax bill at closing. In this case, it is your responsibility to pay the full bill. Next year, each of you will receive a separate bill showing the revised acreage.
Q. Can I access information about my property online?
You can access all documents recorded in your name by visiting the Register of Deeds’ website. In Buncombe County this service is free and can be accessed at Register of Deeds. McDowell County requires you to subscribe for this service, which you can do at titlesearcher.com. You can access your property tax records in Buncombe County by visiting the Buncombe County Tax Collector. In McDowell County, you can access this information by visiting the McDowell County Tax Collector; Each county also maintains a GIS website that will show lots of different information about your property. You can view an aerial photograph, see how flood zones and zoning laws affect your property, view approximate locations of streams, MSD sewer lines, streets, etc. Be advised that the county maps may slightly skew property lines and should not be relied on in the same manner as a survey prepared by a licensed surveyor. In Buncombe County, you can view the GIS map by visiting Buncombe County GIS. In McDowell County visit the McDowell County GIS.