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Susan Willett

Director of Trust Services, Old North State Trust, LLC

Susan Willett is the director of trust services and oversees all aspects of trust administration for Old North State Trust, LLC. She is responsible for the administration of her client accounts, as well as developing the policies  

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Nov 30, 2018

Don’t Get Conned: How to Spot Crowdsourcing Campaign Scams

Wise money management goes well beyond estate planning. All of us also need to be smart about how we decide which causes to support.   Nowadays, in addition to those established charitable orga ...

Nov 16, 2018

Think Ahead to Weigh Long-Term Care Insurance and Alternatives

As lifespans steadily increase but debilitating conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease become more prevalent, many older adults are facing the question of how to pay for long-term care.   Th ...

Oct 19, 2018

Inheriting an IRA Comes with Complexities and Potential Dangers

An unintended benefit of Individual Retirement Accounts is that they often survive their owner and can provide continuing income to the owner’s heirs.   But if you should inherit an IRA f ...

Oct 3, 2018

Lessons Learned from Hurricane Florence

Be Prepared Yes, you’ve heard me say this a thousand times.  Well, guess what – you’ll hear me say it a thousand more. It’s the Boy Scout motto for a reason.  O ...

Sep 4, 2018

Beneficiary Designations: Are You Up to Date?

One of the easiest mistakes to make in estate planning, and one that can have the most serious negative consequences, is to get your beneficiary designations wrong.   You can have the most care ...

Aug 15, 2018

Divorced? You May Be Eligible for Boosted Retirement Benefits

Breaking up is hard to do but making sure you get all the Social Security benefits you’re entitled to after a divorce should be one of the simpler financial matters you have to deal with.   ...

Aug 3, 2018

Peace of Mind

What does peace of mind really mean?   We believe it means knowing that you won’t outlive your money. Knowing your loved ones will be taken care of when you’re gone. Knowing a good ...

Jul 2, 2018

Reverse Mortgage Can Be Helpful but Beware of Pitfalls

Most homeowners of retirement age have seen the pitches – often colorful brochures that arrive in the mail – promising to solve their cash-flow problems by tapping the equity in their home ...

Jun 15, 2018

Who’s Helping Whom?

Recently, one of my co-workers, Alyce Phillips, and I had the pleasure of volunteering and participating with the WILMA Network to help build a house for a deserving recipient with Habitat for Humanit ...

Jun 4, 2018

Time to Have 'The Talk'?

Few challenges are more emotionally wrenching than facing the reality that a relative – a parent, especially – needs help with the tasks of daily living, especially making financial decisi ...

May 15, 2018

Spring Cleaning

It’s the time of year when we normally turn to cleaning out closets, garages, etc.    We have boxes, bags and armfuls of items to donate or trash, but what do we do with those items ...

May 1, 2018

Being Executor of an Estate is Tough, Not a Job for Just Anybody

Being named executor of a relative’s estate is both an honor and a burden.   Anyone who is designated to settle an estate should be prepared to meet some serious obligations that can&rsqu ...

Apr 16, 2018

Lessons Learned in Paradise

I just returned from a few days in Antigua - just a quick little getaway from the cold and to get ready for the rush that is tax season.   What I discovered – besides the awesome beauty o ...

Apr 6, 2018

Highly Trained Professionals Face Special Financial Challenges

For both professional and personal reasons, I have been thinking lately about the special financial demands placed on certain highly trained professionals.   I’m talking about doctors and ...

Mar 15, 2018

Realism, Preparation and Teamwork: Olympic Lessons for Investors

Watching the Winter Olympics recently has inspired me to think about something fundamental in human nature – how competition, and the prospect of winning or losing, affects the way we approach o ...

Mar 1, 2018

ONST: The Perfect Partner (Client Case Study)

Sam and Katie Smith (not their actual names) have been clients of ours for several years.    They have various types of accounts that we manage, but I’d like to tell you about one - ...

Feb 15, 2018

Reflection on Market Volatility

While several catalysts could potentially explain the market volatility over the past few days, what we have observed seems to be a good old-fashioned profit-taking pullback. The cause for the pull ...

Feb 1, 2018

POA Pitfalls: Potential Problems in Granting Powers of Attorney

In my work of helping people manage their financial affairs, I constantly wrestle with a legal tool that’s often misunderstood, and sometimes misused. I’m talking about the POA, which can ...

Jan 19, 2018

How Will the New Tax Cuts Impact You?

On Dec. 22, 2017, President Trump signed into law the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax-cut package that fundamentally changes the individual and business tax landscape.   Whi ...

Jan 10, 2018

Fighting Alzheimer’s: A Debilitating Condition Many of Us Will Face

I’d like to make a change from talking just about trusts and estate planning and shift to something more personal, which Old North State Trust has made something of a corporate goal - Alzheimer& ...

Dec 8, 2017

A Relationship You Can Trust

A question we have to ask ourselves in this ever increasingly crazy and uncertain world is “Who do you trust?”    With the surge lately of violence, cyberattacks and bad (if no ...

Nov 30, 2017

It’s That Time Of Year - Gift Time!

As the year winds down, one topic on just about everyone’s mind is gifts - not just the seasonal presents under the tree, but also those big transfers of assets between family members that often ...

Nov 1, 2017

The Merits Of Trusts Vs. Guardianships For Minor Children

One essential parental duty for parents is to make plans for their children should the parents die prematurely.   The first obligation, of course, is to decide who should be given the power and ...

Oct 16, 2017

What About Bam (Or Fido)?

In past articles, I have stressed the importance of having a plan and reviewing that plan on a regular basis.   That has and will always be my advice. I have discussed various aspects of what s ...

Oct 2, 2017

We’re Living In Scary Times – How To Protect Yourself

The Boogeyman has arrived, and it’s not even Halloween!    When you hear about identity theft, you think that it won’t happen to you. At least, that’s what I always thoug ...

Sep 1, 2017

Incorrect Beneficiary Designations Can Undermine Estate Planning

The most carefully thought-out estate plans can go badly awry if one simple detail isn’t carefully attended to – designating beneficiaries for everything from trusts and wills to insurance ...

Aug 15, 2017

What Retirees Need to Know

What do you expect when you retire? Will you be traveling around the world because you saved well before retirement or will you be the one fearing living in poverty? We all want the dream of ret ...

Aug 1, 2017

Assets Not Easily Converted To Cash? Life Insurance Trust Can Help

One of the toughest problems we face in designing trusts for our clients is an estate that can’t be easily liquidated without incurring sizable losses. One excellent solution is what’s cal ...

Jul 14, 2017

What I Learned From The WILMA Grads

The second annual class of the WILMA Leadership Institute graduated on June 14, and I was fortunate enough to attend the ceremony.    There were nine graduates this year and what an amazin ...

Jun 30, 2017

Use Your Will To Specify How To Handle Debts

When most of us think about writing a will, it’s our assets we have in mind, and which of our survivors will get what.   But sometimes an estate must address the balance sheet’s neg ...

Jun 15, 2017

You Earned It, Now What Do You Do With It?

One of the most valuable investments most of us will ever accumulate is our retirement plan asset. We work hard, save all our lives, retire to live out our dreams and then watch the government take ou ...

Jun 6, 2017

Keep Mental Hang-Ups From Sabotaging Estate Planning

Estate planning challenges include mastering financial markets, tax laws and other arcane technicalities. But when deciding how to leave your assets often what’s the very trickiest aspect is the ...

May 15, 2017

Who Do You Trust?

What qualities are you looking for in an advisor? What values are you looking for in a partner?    We all want someone we can trust, someone we expect to be there for us when we need them. ...

May 1, 2017

Defending Inheritance And Gifts From Divorce

Statistics show half of all American marriages end in divorce, which means assets that originally belonged to one spouse may end up in the other’s hands. That’s a big reason why we advise ...

Apr 26, 2017

The Benefits of Being a Fiduciary

There has been a lot of discussion lately about the merits of being a fiduciary and whether the Fiduciary Rule will be enacted, or if it will indeed be struck down by President Trump.    F ...

Mar 28, 2017

Are You My Second Cousin Or My First Cousin Once Removed?

I had a great-aunt pass away recently and it sparked the discussion that everyone has when family gets together - are you my second cousin or first cousin once removed?  I figured since I had ...

Feb 20, 2017

Weird, Wonderful And Absurd: Cyclical Effects On Markets

Most of us who make a living watching the financial markets are aware of a strange, but interesting, phenomenon. For reasons that may make sense – or none whatsoever – a mythology has ...

Feb 9, 2017

The ABCs Of Time And Money Management

A: Avoid distractions, from both time and money. Focus on the task at hand, as well as the resources you have and the objectives you want to achieve. B: Be open to new ideas. We live in a fast-pace ...

Jan 23, 2017

Heirs Not So Reliable? Consider Skipping A Generation

It’s a more common dilemma than you might think: A successful person has a substantial estate to pass down, but a member of the family’s next generation has proven to be a poor money manag ...

Jan 16, 2017

Plan For The Worst And Hope For The Best

What can the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds teach us?   A motto I truly believe in and have stressed to every client as we meet to create his or her estate plan is, Plan for the wo ...

Jan 5, 2017

Trump’s Economic Proposals And Potential Impacts

Following November’s presidential election, I offered some thoughts about how investors should perceive the uncertainties of a new administration. Since then, we know more about who President ...

Dec 22, 2016

2016 Market Commentary

A monumental shift occurred in November, as consumer sentiment, interest rates and equity markets all increased with growth expectations settling in. Infrastructure spending, manufacturing, a frien ...

Dec 15, 2016

One Certainty About Investments Is Markets Hate Uncertainty

Troubled times can lead to troubled investors. One of a good financial advisor’s most important duties is to help clients avoid making rash decisions at times of great change and uncertainty, su ...

Nov 29, 2016

Signs Your Estate Plan Needs A Lift

1. “I thought I had signed this will and trust agreement!” Unsigned documents are not enforceable until they have been properly executed.   You should review and update your esta ...

Nov 1, 2016

Don't Settle For Being A Larger Institution's 'Loss Leader'

Investors with modest portfolios can find themselves in a dilemma when it comes to choosing an institution to help them manage their assets. The fact is, smaller clients entirely too often get left be ...

Oct 14, 2016

Recognizing The Various Forms Of Elder Abuse

As a young person, we prepare and plan for our retirement and long for the glorious golden days ahead without any tribulations. Unfortunately, we are not the only ones who want to live off our nest eg ...

Sep 30, 2016

Seeing Clearly: Truth Is Earned Through Transparency

There’s a good reason a business like ours uses the word “trust” in our name. We are asking our clients to entrust not only their wealth, but also their deepest wishes for their fami ...

Sep 15, 2016

The Olympics of Savings

It’s that wonderful season that only comes every two years - the Olympics. We get to watch in awe as records are broken and superhuman feats are accomplished. Our thoughts turn to greatness a ...

Aug 31, 2016

In Good Form: Essential Health Care Paperwork In Estate Planning

Estate planning is a process that’s heavy on documents, often lots and lots of documents, starting with the all-important will. What is overlooked by many people - and this can include estate ...

Aug 15, 2016

What To Know About Inherited IRAs

Don’t touch them.   Don’t touch an inherited IRA until you have consulted a knowledgeable adviser about the taxability of any distribution, transfer or name change on the IRA. &nbs ...

Aug 1, 2016

Two Approaches To Charity: Tax-exempt Trust Or Charitable LLC?

A new approach for high-net-worth individuals to support charitable causes is getting a lot of attention. It’s known as a charitable LLC, and has one very sharp difference from traditional chari ...

Jul 15, 2016

Helping Women Plan Their Financial Futures

Who is more likely to be single in retirement?   Who will live longer, statistically?   Who will have greater health care costs?   Who generally will have less savings for retirem ...

Jul 1, 2016

The Happy Medium Of Investing: Pay Attention, But Not Too Much

As financial advisers, we have learned that a client’s frame of mind is every bit as important as the particulars of what the markets are doing, how a stock or fund is performing, or what the ec ...

Jun 15, 2016

The Generational Divide

For the last 100 years or more, demographers and strategists have defined the different generations based on a variety of factors. Some of these include population, economics, education, upbringing, c ...

Jun 1, 2016

Failure To Write, Update A Will Can Create Crisis For Survivors

Recent news coverage about the unexpected death of the musician Prince has gotten me thinking about the consequences of dying without a will. As his example shows us, failure to plan is a guaranteed r ...

May 15, 2016

Common Misconceptions About Living Trusts

Intervivos, or living trusts, are extremely useful tools to manage family funds. But it seems there are many misconceptions about living trusts and how they can benefit someone from a current investme ...

May 1, 2016

Who Will Handle Your Estate’s Tangible Assets?

Most significant estates include liquid assets, stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other securities –  the sorts of things that can easily be sold and converted to cash. Just about any br ...

Apr 15, 2016

The Reality Regarding Alternative Assets

One of the things that trust departments have always been known for is their customer service. Another is the ability to handle all types of assets. In recent years, both of these concepts have lost t ...

Apr 1, 2016

Proactive Advisers Plan Ahead To Mitigate Markets’ Volatility

One of the greatest challenges for any investor is how to cope with turbulence in the financial markets without panicking. It’s too easy to let emotion drive rash decisions that can make a bad s ...

Mar 15, 2016

Annual Market Review For 2015

Volatility may best describe the equity markets for the majority of 2015, as they were impacted by economic stress in China and Greece, coupled with underwhelming corporate earnings reports, falling o ...

Mar 1, 2016

Defend Against Identify Theft With Common Sense And Skepticism

"Who steals my purse steals trash," Shakespeare famously wrote. “But he that filches from me my good name ... makes me poor indeed.” Nowadays, savvy thieves can use what they fin ...

Feb 15, 2016

Tax Notes For 2016

As we start a new year, the following are some tax considerations for your review: The charitable donation from IRAs to charities rule has been extended for 2016. If you are over 70 1/2, you can d ...

Feb 1, 2016

How To Listen Effectively And Serve Clients Better

In a recent article about so-called “behavioral finance,” I talked about the importance of getting to know our clients and to understand their goals, hopes and dreams. That got me to think ...

Jan 15, 2016

Do You Really Want To Leave A Large Inheritance?

Estate planning should be a serious exercise everyone with an accumulation of assets should undertake, and financial planning should be an ongoing event no matter your age or status in life. For senio ...

Jan 4, 2016

Understanding Psychology Helps Investors In A ‘Rational’ Market

Investing and money management is a science. It deals with hard numbers and the laws of economics. But it is also an art, and the best financial advisers have come to understand this very well.   ...

Dec 15, 2015

Selecting The Right Trustee

The correct use of trusts can be an indispensable estate planning tool. There are a number of reasons to incorporate trusts as part of your estate plan, including privacy, avoidance of probate, full m ...

Dec 1, 2015

The Drawbacks Of Robo-Advisers

True artificial intelligence is still an elusive goal for the scientists who have been working in this field for decades. But that hasn’t stopped a number of large online brokerage companies, wh ...

Nov 15, 2015

The Trust Company Enigma

Old North State Trust, LLC is a full-service trust company licensed by the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks. Our trust company is comprised of career professionals who specialize in various aspect ...

Nov 1, 2015

Trusts Can Include Incentives For Heirs To Act Responsibly

One of the most difficult issues in estate planning is what to do about heirs who may need something like a parent’s guiding hand long after they become adults.  A child or grandchild may h ...

Oct 15, 2015

Charity Or Family? You Can Assist Both

Many are familiar with the concepts of how a charitable remainder trust (CRT) may benefit you, your estate plan and the charities of your choice. That’s because with a CRT, you can create an inc ...

Oct 1, 2015

Don’t Neglect To Leave Instructions About Your ‘Stuff’

When the phrase “estate planning” comes up, we tend to think about the major financial assets: money, investment accounts and the like, as well as real estate. But in my experience, it&rsq ...

Sep 16, 2015

Preparing Children For The Eventual Transfer Of Wealth

For many generations, it was taboo to speak about money in front of others, especially children. Children were supposed to be “seen” and not “heard” in the company of family an ...

Sep 1, 2015

People Without Heirs Need To Do Estate Planning, Too

The value of estate planning is clear and obvious for people with children or grandchildren. But even people who have no heirs should also be thinking about how to manage their assets and care for thi ...

Aug 15, 2015

Review My Will? Why?

One of the wonderful freedoms you have as a citizen of this great nation is the ability to determine how your property will be distributed and to designate who will receive your assets at your death. ...

Aug 1, 2015

Successful Trust Relationships Bridge Generations

Much of the work we do in creating and managing trusts involves how assets are passed from one generation to the next. But we have also developed many, many relationships that began with a parent, and ...

Jul 15, 2015

Managing Your Money Through Living Trusts

Previous Old North State Trust Insights have outlined sound advantages to incorporating a living trust as part of your estate plan. Among them is avoiding probate at your death, which reduces the dela ...

Jul 1, 2015

Trusts Are Invaluable For People With Special Needs – And Their Families

Trusts for people with special needs, related to illness or disability, are not a major part of our business, but can be absolutely essential for the families involved. Because of their complexity, sp ...

Jun 15, 2015

Is A Living Trust Better Than A Typical Investment Account?

Although both living trust and typical investment accounts may offer a vehicle for growing and preserving your wealth, a revocable, intervivos (living) trust offers some advantages over an ordinary in ...

Legal Issues
Jun 1, 2015

‘Elder Law’ Documents Are Important – And Not Just For The Elderly

May was National Elder Law Month, which got me to thinking about a short list of legal documents that everybody should know about – and that anybody who expects to get old should take steps to p ...

May 15, 2015

How To Avoid Estate-Planning Mistakes

Now that tax season is over, really over, you need to give yourself the gift of planning ahead. There’s truly no bad time to consider what you want to happen to your assets in the event of a tra ...

May 1, 2015

Tax Planning Must Be Personalized To Clients’ Unique Goals

The recently concluded tax season has been a reminder that every family’s needs are unique, and that tax planning must go hand in hand with concern for each individual’s practical needs. I ...

Apr 15, 2015

Where, Oh Where Has My Customer Service Gone?

Is this a question on your mind these days? In this day of drive-by service and downloadable access for every need, the idea of old fashioned customer service is becoming a thing of the past. In fact, ...

Apr 1, 2015

Professional Expertise Helps In Navigating Tax Decisions

April and tax-filing season remind us, once again, of the complexity of our tax code, and how difficult it is to be sure we’re making the best decisions about our finances. Because tax issues ar ...

Mar 15, 2015

Financial Planning Considerations For 2015

Some of us may be thinking about 2014 as the tax-filing deadline approaches, but now's the time to discuss financial planning considerations for 2015. Be aware of IRS changes. All of the major ...

Mar 1, 2015

Succession Planning Helps Pass Business To Next Generation

For successful business owners, a vital part of the estate planning process is to think about what will happen to their businesses after their deaths. Succession planning can be a serious challenge fo ...

Feb 15, 2015

Old North State Trust’s Market Commentary for February 2015

There are a lot of misconceptions about the state of the financial market.  As volatile as 2014 was in the market, most of the markets finished in positive territory.  In fact, 2014 was a go ...

Feb 1, 2015

Managing Your Assets Like You Would Manage Them Yourself

Being in the trust business, I often find myself having to explain just what, exactly, it is that I do for a living. Most people have some idea of what a trust is, but they may not know much about the ...

Jan 15, 2015

The History Of Old North State Trust

Over the years, many people have asked me, “How did Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) come into existence in North Carolina?” It was founded in 1994 as a Registered Investment Advisor and ...

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