This is the fourth in a series of articles on what to expect when you work with your Atlanta 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 this series, we have covered estate planning considerations for incapacitation and death, and for the most part, they’ve been the more commonly thought-of items. Yet, there are some other ideas that you will want to discuss with your estate planning lawyer in Atlanta, including:
- Service Providers: In your estate plan, you may want to include a section regarding your service providers. Everything from doctors and dentists to property managers and babysitters could be included here. This gives your loved ones the opportunity to contact these service providers to let them know you won’t be working with them any longer, to clear up any outstanding bills, and to make sure that you don’t continue being billed for a service you no longer use. This might be especially important if you have service providers who are automatically paid from your bank account.
- Memberships: Memberships and subscriptions are an area that is really easy to overlook, and as mentioned above, they can cost your estate! Belonging to a gym, country club, or other kind of organization might call for dues to be taken directly from your bank account, and without knowledge to end your contract, your executor and family members won’t even realize they need to discontinue your memberships or subscriptions.
- Credit Cards and Other Debts: Having a list of credit cards and other debts makes it easier for those left behind to follow up. They’ll want to cancel various accounts, as well as to get totals owed in order to make sure your legal obligations are taken care of before the estate is distributed. Estate planning lawyers in Georgia are familiar with the laws of the state and can guide you on what is expected.
- Keys and Passwords: Most of us have areas in our lives that are somehow secured from others. In the case of your death or incapacitation, you may need to be sure that others have access to these areas. For example, you wouldn’t want to share your online banking password with just anyone, but if someone needs that information to go with their power of attorney, it needs to be accessible. Keys to safe deposit boxes, passwords to accounts, and even the code to your home security system should all be kept somewhere that they can be accessed if necessary.
- Personal Letters: The personal letter part of estate planning is really up to an individual. Some people choose to write special letters that loved ones can keep as mementos. This is a time to share your feelings, offer forgiveness if you haven’t done so in life, or to just let those around you know that you love them.
There are a whole lot of facets to estate planning, and a good estate planning lawyer in Atlanta will be able to help you go over all of these aspects and many more to determine what you need to include in your estate plan.
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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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This is the second in a series of articles on what to expect when you work with your Atlanta will and trust lawyer. Each article will cover several of the topics that you will need to consider to make a plan that works for your needs.
Our last article looked at several things you will need to consider and prepare when working with your will and trust lawyer in Atlanta. Today’s article continues on with additional considerations that are generally important upon death.
- Wills and Trusts: Estate planning lawyers are focused on helping you craft just the right kinds of wills and trusts for your needs. (And, no, trusts are not just for super-rich people.) These documents will be used to explain your wishes for what is to happen with your assets when you die and will be used to protect your estate or heirs from paying unnecessary taxes on what you are leaving behind.
- Funeral Arrangements: Your Atlanta will and trust lawyer will likely encourage you to make funeral arrangements as part of the planning process. Planning for one’s own funeral isn’t always the most enjoyable task (although some folks do find it cathartic). On the other hand, taking care of arrangements in advance takes a big burden off of your family and friends and helps to ensure that things happen the way you would have wanted.
- Organ Donation: Medical science has progressed to the point where many organs and tissues of deceased individuals can be used to give the living a new lease on life. Your Atlanta will and trust lawyer can go over these possibilities with you and help you put the proper documentation in order if organ or tissue donation is something you want to do.
- Obituary: Oftentimes, an obituary is written by a close friend or relative after someone has passed away. You can actually write your own in advance, saving them from doing so during their grief and making sure that you get to highlight the events and achievements from your life that were most important to you. Keep in mind that obituaries are not typically published for free, so your estate plan may also set aside some money to pay for the placement of the piece.
- Health Care Directives: Your health care directives are an incredibly important part of working with a will and trust lawyer in Atlanta, and you need to be sure that they’re not only in order, but also available to those who need them. These documents will include information on your choices about medical treatment, as well as end-of-life decisions that you have already made.
By working with a reputable will and trust lawyer in Atlanta, you can make sure that all of these areas are considered and that they fall under the laws and codes of 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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Will and trust lawyers in the Atlanta, Georgia, area recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate plans. Every situation is different, and each person needs individualized attention. While there are services that offer cookie-cutter forms that will supposedly allow you to set up a decent plan, there is no comparison to working with an actual estate planning attorney who can work with human understanding to meet your real needs.
For example, the needs of women have been changing dramatically over the past several years. Gone are the days when a woman was expected to stay home and live on an “allowance” if her husband chose to give her one. Instead, so many women today have their own jobs, their own finances, and their own desire to protect their assets.
Older Women and Widows
In addition, women typically live longer than men. So, even if the husband was originally in charge of working with the will and trust lawyer, once he has passed away, the widow has an entirely new set of needs. She needs to make sure that her estate is able to support her as costs continue to rise, as well as to determine what she would like to have happen to her assets after her own death.
Not all estate planning lawyers in the Atlanta GA area are current with the times, either. There is still a tendency to create trusts that will “take care of them” without them actually having any say over the contents of the trust. Today’s women are often quite capable of managing their own finances and are better served by having flexibility to grow their funds rather than being restricted by the trust.
There are plenty of reasons that a younger woman should to meet with an Atlanta will and trust lawyer, too. In the case of a single mother, assigning a guardian is critical in case of the mother’s death or incapacitation. If a guardian is not legally named, the courts will step in and choose a guardian for the child without taking the mother’s wishes into consideration. An estate planning attorney may also advise younger mothers to consider setting up a trust for their child(ren) and maybe even to look into life insurance policies that could be used to fund the child(ren)’s future.
Whether married or not, many younger women have careers and would benefit from retirement planning in this earlier stage of life. By being proactive early on, a woman can set up her 401k and other accounts to make sure she realizes her long-term financial goals. Looking to retire young, to pay for your kids’ college, or to travel the world? A will and trust lawyer in metro Atlanta can help put things in motion now to make that a reality later.
If you have a significant other in your life, it makes sense for the two of you to work together with your Atlanta estate planning attorney to make sure that your goals align and that your plans are compatible. Your attorney can help you properly deal with “his, hers and ours” to ensure that your assets are titled properly and that your financial house together is built on a solid foundation.
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