An Atlanta will and trust lawyer’s job is to make sure that you have all of your ducks in a row so that if you become incapacitated or die, your loved ones will now how to manage your estate and follow your wishes. Laws in Georgia vary from those found around the country, which is why you want to work with an attorney who is skilled in understanding your specific needs. One area that should be considered is your service providers.
“Service providers” covers a wide range of individuals involved in your life. Should you be unable to communicate with them, you want to ensure that your trustee, executor, guardian, or other responsible person is able to communicate with them on your behalf. Having them all listed in one place will make this job much more manageable.
This list should include all of the people or companies that you deal with when it comes to the maintenance of your home. If you are incapacitated, your home will need to continue to function in your absence, and your representative will need to be able to contact these people to make sure things keep running smoothly. In other cases, whether you are deceased or incapacitated, there are certain services that you may no longer need, and the person in charge needs to be able to contact the service providers and cancel with them.
Some examples of household providers that you will want to list might include:
• Computer support
• Food or water delivery
• House keepers
• Heating/Cooling system maintenance
• Heating oil delivery
• House sitters
• Pest control
• Pool or spa maintenance
• Vehicle maintenance
Basically, anything that you have performed on a regular basis should be noted, along with contact and payment information.
Medical Service Providers
You should also provide your Atlanta will and trust lawyer with contacts for your medical service providers. This information could be very valuable should you need medical attention but be unable to reach out to these providers on your own. Additionally, if you have standing appointments with these providers, it will be helpful to have them canceled so you don’t accrue charges for service you’re not using.
Some of the medical service providers you may want to include on your list are:
• Massage therapist
• Physical therapist
• Primary care physician
Personal Service Providers
There are other types of regular services that you may use, and you’ll want to include these as well for the same reasons already mentioned.
Some personal service providers to keep in mind for inclusion:
• Childcare provider
• Home care provider
• Meal preparation
Along with the contact information for these service providers, it’s a good idea to make notes about when they are expected, and you may even want to include service agreements and contracts. For example, if you have a standing arrangement to have your sprinkler system blown out each fall, make a note of that.
Your Atlanta will and trust lawyer may not include all of this information directly in your estate plan, but he or she will want to be able to make a note of where it can be located when the need arises.
It really does take a village sometimes ….We are happy to consult with your financial planner, accountant, or other professional to make sure you get the best estate plan possible. For more information or help getting started, please feel free to call our office at 770-425-6060 to schedule a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session ($750 value) with the mention of this article.
This is the third in a series of articles on what to expect when you work with your Atlanta, Georgia, estate planning lawyer. Each article will cover several of the topics that you will need to consider to make a plan that works for your needs.
In the previous two editions of this series, we looked at some of the items an estate planning lawyer in Atlanta GA will want you to consider in preparing for your incapacitation or death. These are some of the more typical items that you will want to highlight. In addition, of course, your attorney will work with you on how to manage your assets in your estate plan. There are several areas of consideration, some of which will include:
- Retirement Plans and Pensions: Should you pass away, your retirement plan or pension will pay out to your beneficiaries. To ensure that this happens the way you intend, you’ll want to work with your Atlanta estate planning lawyer to determine its value and how you envision it being used. Do you want the money to go directly to your spouse? Will it be used to fund some sort of trust for your children? Perhaps you want to leave it to a nonprofit organization? Each of these choices has different ramifications, and you will need to look into how your retirement plan is set up.
- Insurance: There are so many kinds of insurance policies, but the ones most often thought about during the estate planning process are life insurance and annuities. Again, you will want to determine the beneficiary or beneficiaries of your policy. It’s also a good idea to keep up to date on what your policy offers, as term life policies will expire at a certain age.
- Bank and Other Accounts: As with your retirement and insurance policies, you may choose to name a beneficiary on these accounts. On the other hand, you may choose to have someone who manages the funds for specific purposes. Your Atlanta estate planning lawyer will help you create a list of these accounts with directions on what should happen to them.
- Real Estate: From your personal residence to income property, you need to have a plan in place for what is to become of these assets after your death. There are a variety of tax implications that come with passing on real estate or even selling it, so an Atlanta estate planning lawyer will be able to help you develop a plan that will benefit your estate according to state laws.
- Taxes: As you likely know, there are a variety of taxes that come along with the inheritance process. You may not be aware, however, that there is still a need to pay taxes on assets after your death and before they are bequeathed. Your estate plan needs to be set up in a way that can provide for these taxes. Likewise, your regular income and other taxes will need to be paid up to your death, so having all of your current documents in order will help the executor of your estate to comply with Georgia state and federal laws.
So far, this series of estate planning articles has covered some distinct areas of planning. Our last piece will hold a few tips on other considerations that you may want to keep in mind when working with your estate planning lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia.
For more information or help getting started, please feel free to call our office at 770-425-6060 to schedule a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session ($750 value) with the mention of this article.
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It has been said: “There’s hell, and then there’s probate.”
If you are dealing with an estate that must go through the probate process in Cobb County, Georgia, your smartest move will likely be working with an experienced Marietta probate lawyer. There are cases where simple estates will move through fairly easily, but there is still a matter of paperwork, accounting, etc. to consider; and a probate lawyer can save you an incredible amount of time and hassle.
The best way to reduce the costs of the probate process in Georgia is making sure your estate planning has been done in advance. This means you’ve set up wills, trusts, and any other applicable legal documents so those you leave behind won’t have to deal with taking the entire estate through the court system. Trusts, such as a revocable living trust, are one of the most common tools for avoiding probate, but there are some other possible options.
Some people think that having a will means your estate will bypass the process. Any reputable probate lawyer in Marietta will tell you, however, this isn’t the case. Having a will is still important, as it provides important directions for the dissemination of your estate, but it doesn’t get your heirs off the hook when it comes to probate.
If the estate is truly a “small” one, then you may be able to avoid probate. This can happen where there the only thing left behind is personal property. In these situations, there is no real estate to be inherited. The laws regarding the allowable value of an estate to be considered in this group can change, so it might be helpful to at least chat with a Marietta probate lawyer to see if the estate qualifies. If so, the heir may create an affidavit that will work instead of going through probate. There may also be some simplified court procedures available to heirs of these small estates.
Some states allow for real estate to be transferred after death without going through probate. This kind of deed must be created in advance and will specify it doesn’t take effect until the owner of the property has died. These deeds are NOT recognized in Georgia, so do not be taken in by any online service that offers to handle it for you. Deeds can be prepared, though, that leave a remainder interest in real estate. This should not be attempted without advice of an experienced Marietta wills and trusts attorney, however, because these deeds cancan create problems for the original owner if he or she later needs to apply for Medicaid assistance. No real estate can be transferred via a simple “gentleman’s agreement” and a deed requires legal preparation, signatures, and notarization before being filed with the appropriate county clerk.
These are just two tools available to those who want to avoid the eventual need for a probate lawyer. If they have not been put into place, or you’re not sure if these rules apply to you, speak with a qualified attorney in advance.
If you need to review your own plan or if you’ve lost a loved one and need help dealing with winding up their affairs, please call our office today at (770) 425-6060 to set up a Georgia Estate Review Session with our experienced estate lawyers. Do not go through this alone. The GeorgiaFamilyLaw team is here to help you and your family.
Experienced will lawyers in Marietta, Georgia, often feel like they’ve “seen it all.” This is good news for clients, because it means that the attorney can help you prepare for situations that you might never have expected otherwise. One surprise that people hear from their estate planning lawyers is that you can’t use your will to pass on all types of property. While it seems like you should just be able to put it all down on paper and be done with it, there are some things that must go through different channels.
- Living Trusts – Property that you’ve put into a living trust must remain with the trust and be administered according to that trust. It can’t then be named in a will with an expectation that the will can supersede the trust.
- Joint Tenancy – Property that is owned with someone else can not be passed on. In these cases, the surviving co-owners will receive your share. This can be a major concern, so you want to work with your will lawyer in Marietta to fully understand state laws regarding this type of property.
- Life Insurance – Of course you want your life insurance policy to pay out to one or more beneficiaries, but that is handled through the policy itself, not with the will. If your insurance policy names a beneficiary, the will cannot be used to leave the funds to someone else.
- Other Property with Beneficiaries – Basically, if you have a payable-on-death bank account, vehicles or stocks held in beneficiary, or some kind of retirement plan where a beneficiary is named, you do not use the will to pass these on to someone else. If you want to change the beneficiary, this needs to be done through the institution that holds the account or policy.
You will want your heirs to know about these items, of course, and your will lawyer in Marietta will make sure that they are all included in your plan; however, they won’t be passed through your will. If you have questions or concerns about this fact, we invite you to schedule an appointment at our Marietta wills law firm to ensure that your end-of-life wishes are honored.
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