Celebrities seem to have it all—fame and fortune. Unfortunately, some celebrities have a hard time planning for the division of their assets. They neglect to draft wills, fail to update them, or fail to make sure logistical details are handled correctly. A recent article highlights some high profile estate planning mistakes. It also explains how to avoid those mistakes.
The article provides examples of famous people who made mistakes that led to serious problems for their family members. For example:
- Jimi Hendrix. He died without a will. State law awarded his estate to his father, even though he was close to his brother. His brother received nothing.
- Florence “FloJo” Griffith Joyner. She wrote a will, but she did not tell anyone where it was. Her husband was unable to file it within the time period required by state law. This led to her husband and her mother going to court.
- Heath Ledger. He wrote a will, but he never updated it after the birth of his daughter. The will left everything to his parents and his sister.
- Michael Jackson. He created a trust, but he may have neglected to fully fund it. This led to a public fight between his family members.
Our Marietta, Georgia estate planning firm drafts and updates wills and estate plans for clients across the state of Georgia. Contact the Georgia estate planning attorneys at Georgia Family Law: Worrall Law LLC. Call us at 770.425.6060 or fill out an online contact form.
Of course it makes sense that Cobb County wills and estates attorney would tell you to create a will, right? Our job is to help people plan for what will happen to their estates once they’re gone. But, having been involved in estate planning in Cobb County for such a long time, it’s clear that message of proper planning is something more people still need to hear.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of four brief reasons that explain why you need a will…and why it must be created sooner, rather than later. There are certainly many other aspects to consider, but these can have a great impact on the future of your estate:
Reason You Need a Will #1: It Saves Money
There are so many financial issues that come into play once an individual has passed away, and it really does take a trained lawyer to understand them and come up with a solid game plan. An estate planning attorney is able to help you take advantage of tax benefits that you might not have otherwise known were available, as well as help you save an incredible amount of money that can be passed on to your heirs.
Reason You Need a Will #2: It Protects Your Family
Not all adults have minor children, but those who do should have a will in place that names who they want to be their child(ren)’s legal guardian in case of death or incapacitation. If you and your wills lawyer in Cobb County have not formally and legally laid out this information, then it will be up to the courts to determine who will raise your children in your absence. Keeping your will updated also protects other family members, as you can determine what goes to whom, rather than having family members cause fights and drama over your estate.
Reason You Need a Will #3: It Keeps Real Estate Intact
Do you own a house or other property? If so, and you pass away without a will, the courts will likely pass co-ownership of that property to your heirs. What happens when some of your heirs want to keep the property and others want to sell it? What if you specifically want a certain heir to inherit your property? What if you don’t want your heirs inheriting the property and would rather leave it to someone outside the family instead? Without a will, the answers to all of these questions will be completely out of your control.
Reason You Need a Will #4: You Might Not Be Allowed to Do It Later
One of the requirements of a valid will is that the person creating it is of “sound body and mind.” If you become victim of an illness or injury that brings your ability to make sound judgments into question, you may be unable to put together a legally binding will later on. Anyone who does not agree with your decisions can simply contest the will, saying that you were not competent to make those choices; and the whole thing could end up in court.
Of course, there are many, many other reasons to meet with an Cobb County lawyer and have an estate plan designed that addresses your unique legal and financial needs. We’re happy to help you get started with the process, so if you have further questions about wills here in Cobb County or you’d like to move forward protecting the people and things you love, please give our office a call at 770.425.6060 and ask to schedule a free Georgia Family Treasures Planning Sessions with the mention of this article ($750 value).
As of your 18th birthday, you became an adult in the eyes of the law.
Even though your kids may still act like teenagers (or you may feel like one), in the eyes of the government, turning 18 means you need to have legal documents in place in case of an accident.
Every adult should have in place an Advance Health Care Directive and a Financial Durable Power of Attorney. Estate planning is not just for rich people. These legal documents are important for everyone who loves their family.
If you don’t have these legal documents in place and something scary happens, it will make life a whole lot more difficult for the people you love.
An Advance Health Care Directive (also known as a living will) does two things: first, it names the person you want making health care decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself and second, it lets that person know how you want them to be made.
This is important because if you are in the hospital and cannot communicate, you need someone to make decisions for you and you want them to make those decisions as you would want them made, without question.
If you don’t have this document in place, it could create a huge rift among your family as the people you love fight about what you would have wanted.
The important thing in this document is that the whoever you name is also given authority under the new (within the past three years) Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (aka HIPAA).
If your health care agent (the person named in your Advance Health Care Directive) is not designated as your agent under HIPAA, they will not be able to look at your medical records, which makes it mighty hard for them to make health care decisions for you.
By the way, if you have college age kids going off to college, you’ll want to get this in place for your kid. Otherwise, when you call the school nurse to discuss your child’s illness, you may find no one can or will talk with you because they would violate HIPAA if they did.
We get frantic calls in our office at least once or twice each fall from parents looking for legal documents for their college-age kid for just this reason.
The second legal document you absolutely need to have in place as an adult is a Durable Power of Attorney. This document names someone to make financial and legal decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself.
Beware of the one-page standard durable power of attorney you find on the internet where you just check off a list of applicable powers. I’ve seen family members try to use those to access their loved ones assets and then not be able to because the form was too generic.
It’s important for your kids going off to college to have this in place too because if they are in an accident you are going to need to take over paying the bills and get access to bank accounts and make legal decisions. But, you will have to go through a long and expensive court process if there’s not a signed Durable Power of Attorney in place.
It’s the same for you too. If you are in an accident, and you don’t have a Durable Power of Attorney in place,it will be difficult for your family to deal with things on your behalf.
So, regardless of the amount of money you have in the bank, get your Advance Health Care Directive (or living will) and your Durable Power of Attorney in place at the bare minimum. Oh, and of course, if you have kids under 18 at home, get your comprehensive Kids Protection Plan in place too.
None of this has to do with money. It has to do with making life as easy as possible for the people you love.
SOURCE FOR POST: Family Wealth Matters by Alexis Martin Neely
Do Your College Age Children Have Healthcare Directives? DO YOU?
Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care