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Marietta Georgia estate planning lawyers eat, sleep, and breathe estate planning and see pretty much every kind of situation unfold. Clearly, individuals who have taken the time to create a solid estate plan nearly always fare better than those who do not. Still, there are a whole lot of myths and misunderstandings floating around that stop people from making the choice to protect their futures with an estate planning lawyer’s assistance.
In an effort to help as many people as possible, it is incredibly important to tackle these myths head-on and to debunk those that just aren’t true.
T or F: Estate plans are just for those with lots of assets.
The answer is false. So many people end up unknowingly damaging their estates and hurting their heirs because they just don’t think they have “enough stuff” to justify an estate plan. This myth absolutely needs to be debunked! As long as you own something, there will be a legal process in order to determine what to do with it after you die. This process (probate) is not only long and drawn out, but it also costs money! That money comes from the estate itself, meaning that those precious few assets you wanted to pass on could actually end up being sold in order to pay for probate and taxes. Fortunately, working with an estate planning lawyer ahead of time allows you the opportunity to protect your assets using whatever tools are appropriate for your situation.
T or F: You don’t need an estate plan as long as your family knows your wishes.
The answer is false. There are a couple of problems that Marietta GA estate planning lawyers encounter with this line of thinking. First, and probably most importantly, is that just because you and/or your family wants things to happen in a certain way, there’s no guarantee they will. Instead of your loved ones following your wishes, they will be forced to follow the laws of the state—even if these go completely against what you wanted. Additionally, everyone experiences grief differently, and even though your child or other loved one knows your preferences, he or she may find ways to subvert them for their own gain. The best way to avoid both of these kinds of drama is to work with an estate planning lawyer in Georgia who knows how to ensure that things go the way you want as a matter of law.
T or F: Trust funds are for more than passing on money.
The answer is true. While we may have certain ideas about trust funds as a result of watching too many movies, a whole lot of people aren’t clear on what they can really do. For example, your Marietta Georgia estate planning attorney can help you set up a trust in order to limit the taxes your estate (and heirs) will have to pay later. They also provide you with a big say in how your heirs are able to use the money—do you want them to have free rein, to pay for an education, or to give the money to charity? These are just some of the ways trusts are often used.
Even if you don’t have a ton of assets, a skilled Marietta estate planning lawyer can help you create a roadmap that will be followed by both the courts and those you’ve left behind. From avoiding probate and excessive taxes to ensuring that your grandkids go to college, working with an estate planning lawyer in Marietta is the first step in protecting what you hold dear.
Want to learn more about estate planning myths? Did you know that when it comes to estate planning, there are 5 RIDICULOUS myths that could cause your plan to crumble and fall apart when your family needs it the most. Whether you already have an estate plan or you have ZERO documents in place, this report will help you identify common myths and mistakes so that you can FIX any problems, make the right decisions and properly safeguard the people and things you love.
BEFORE YOU GO ONE STEP FURTHER WITH YOUR PLANNING…. Download this free special report HERE.
A good Atlanta estate planning attorney is going to help you take a lot of things into consideration when putting together your plan. Various factors influence your estate planning after all: finances, children, age…But what about your gender? Is estate planning for women different from that for men?
Actually, there are some important things to keep in mind.
A Spouse’s Will Is Not Enough
Atlanta estate planning attorneys see again and again where a married couple believes that only one of them—usually a husband—needs to have a will. This can cause a lot of problems in the long run, however.
- Your family may not know your wishes, even if you think they do.
- In times of grief, people aren’t always at their best and could resort to fighting over the estate.
- If your spouse remarries, the new wife (and her children) could legally inherit your things.
These are just some of the scenarios estate planning attorneys see playing out when one partner is relying on the other’s will.
Women Need Powers of Attorney
Various types of powers of attorney are an important part of an estate plan, and this can be especially true for women. The average woman’s lifespan is longer than a man’s, which means that she may be on her own near the end of her life. With no spouse to make medical and financial decisions should she become incapacitated, it’s even more important to make sure appropriate appointees have been legally declared.
Updates are Needed When Marriage Status Changes
When one spouse has passed away, it is always a good idea to review the surviving spouse’s estate plan. There are likely some changes that need to be made based on changes in income and other living circumstances. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney in Atlanta will be able to help redefine the goals you and your spouse set in order to ensure you stay on track.
It’s also very important to meet with an estate planning lawyer after a divorce. The details of the divorce can strongly impact your financial future, and the attorney will work to make sure you know and have access to what is rightfully yours. Additionally, if you already have a will, you will want to change it to avoid the possibility of your ex being entitled to your estate or assets.
A Trust May Be a Good Choice
A mother wants to provide for her child in every way possible, and while trusts are something that are often associated with rich people, they are a great tool for just about anyone with heirs. Talk with an estate planning attorney about why and how to go about creating a trust to help fund your children or grandchildren’s future should you not be around to help them.
There are plenty of other considerations that apply specifically to estate planning for women, and the best way to get all the information you need is to get together with a qualified, experienced attorney in Atlanta. To schedule an appointment for a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session at one of our metro Atlanta offices, we invite you to call 770-425-6060 to get started.
If you’d like to give your loved ones and yourself the gift of peace of mind, please call Steve at 770-425-6060 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As our lives become increasingly digital, more and more of the assets we accumulate are based in technology or created online.
Estate planning attorneys in the Atlanta area have the important job of educating their clients on how to handle “digital assets” in the event of a person’s death or incapacity, and then helping the client document such wishes in a will or trust. Whether it’s an email account, blog, collection of domain names, hosting accounts, apps, ebooks, etc., a good estate planning lawyer in Atlanta can help ensure that only a person the account owner trusts can access and maintain digital assets in their absence.
One area of digital asset planning that has received a lot of attention lately is the management of one’s Facebook profile page. Until recently, loved ones of the deceased only had two choices: 1) Keep the wall public so everyone could continue to post messages and thoughts on the wall or 2) request to have the page “memorialized,” which meant the profile was no longer searchable or visible to those who were not already friends of the individual.
What Facebook did not allow to happen was for someone to manage the profile in the owner’s place. Without explicitly having the password (and the permission to use it!), loved ones could not accept new friend requests, pin important information about memorial services to the top of the profile or update pictures.
That’s all changed this week, though, with the roll out of Facebook’s Legacy Contact feature. Facebook users now have the opportunity to choose a “legacy contact,” either a family member or a friend, whom they want to manage their account when they pass away. Or, they can let Facebook know that they want their account deleted immediately upon their passing.
From Facebook’s Newsroom:
Today we’re introducing a new feature that lets people choose a legacy contact—a family member or friend who can manage their account when they pass away. Once someone lets us know that a person has passed away, we will memorialize the account and the legacy contact will be able to:
- Write a post to display at the top of the memorialized Timeline (for example, to announce a memorial service or share a special message)
- Respond to new friend requests from family members and friends who were not yet connected on Facebook
- Update the profile picture and cover photo
If someone chooses, they may give their legacy contact permission to download an archive of the photos, posts and profile information they shared on Facebook. Other settings will remain the same as before the
account was memorialized. The legacy contact will not be able to log in as the person who passed away or see that person’s private messages.
Alternatively, people can let us know if they’d prefer to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death.
As you plan for the handling of your digital assets after death, the Facebook Legacy Contact Feature is an important tool to mention during the process. By simply logging into your account and following the directions below, you can easily make your wishes for your Facebook account known.
Here’s how to utilize the new feature:
Open Facebook settings. Choose Security Settings and then Legacy Contact at the bottom of the page.
After choosing your legacy contact, you’ll have the option to send a message to that person.
Here’s a snapshot of what a page will look like once memorialized. You’ll notice the word “remembering” over the deceased’s name.
How do you feel about the creation of Facebook’s new “Legacy Contact” feature? Will you take advantage of the opportunity to name a contact and share this information with your clients? Sound off why, or why not, send me an email or leave a comment below and let me know.
Many thanks to my friend Laura Lee Sparks for this post!
Now that the champagne has been consumed and the party horns have been put away, it’s time to really begin the New Year. You may or may not be sticking to those resolutions you made on January 1st, but even if they are a vague memory at this point, I challenge you to add one more resolution to your list — review your estate plan.
Here’s a checklist to get you started:
- Look for your estate planning documents and see if they are still in the place where you left them. Check your fireproof safe, safety deposit box, or other location where you store the actual documents. In addition, make sure your electronic copies are where you last left them. You may have chosen to keep them on a CD or on your home computer, in any case, make sure they are still accessible. Additionally, make sure your heirs, executor, or trust administrator know where they are.
- Review your children’s long-term and short-term guardian nominations. Has anything happened either in your children’s lives or your guardian’s lives that may make you rethink things? Has the person (people) you’ve named as guardians moved, had a child, divorced, or remarried? If so, does this impact your decision? Have any changes happened that might make you rethink the people you named as short-term guardians?
- Did any of your children turn 18? If so, you need to make sure that they have the proper legal documents in place. They may not have many assets so they may not need a full-blown estate plan, but they will need a signed healthcare power of attorney and living trust in case something happens to them. Without these legal documents in place, you may not be able to speak for them.
- Update, review, or consider a pet trust. If you currently have a pet trust, has anything happened that would make you rethink it? Did something happen to your pet that may mean there are more medical expenses than you thought? Did you get a new pet this year that you want to be sure will be cared for if something happens to you?
- Think through 2014 and list any substantial assets you may have acquired. If you have new assets, make sure they are transferred into your trust. If they aren’t, those assets could end up in probate even though you thoughtfully created a trust to avoid this.
- Review and think about your asset distribution. Does your trust still reflect your wishes for how you would like to distribute your assets? Again, life events such as births, deaths, marriage and divorce may impact the decisions you made about this.
- Check your insurance policies. Does your life insurance still reflect an amount that would support your family if something happens to you? Has something happened in the past year that would require you raise that amount?
- Are you still happy with your decision regarding who should administer your estate? Is he or she still willing to accept this duty? Has anything happened in the last year that would make you wonder whether this person is still able to perform this function? If you are in doubt, you may consider discussing the person you chose and make changes if necessary.
- Update your family’s legacy. Each year you should update your written legacy whether it is in writing or recorded. Be sure to note family member milestones and accomplishments. This will most likely be the most valuable part of your estate plan so be sure to spend time on this.
As I tell my clients, your estate plan is a document that changes just as your life changes. While every change in your life doesn’t mean that you need to update your estate plan, it is important to think through the past year’s events and experiences to make sure that your estate plan will still take care of your family just has you planned.
Will and trust lawyers in Marietta see plenty of situations where parents who love their children are not entirely in love with their children’s spouses. This can make the estate planning process a little tricky, because the spouse can add tension and stir up drama that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. While some people include their sons-and-daughters-in-law in the planning process, it’s not all that unusual to leave them out.
For the most part, the son-in-law or daughter-in-law isn’t even mentioned in the will. They don’t really even have any legal standing to inherit from the parent unless they are specifically named. So, the parent would name his or her own child, but not the child’s spouse. If the adult child was no longer living, the property would probably end up being inherited by the grandchildren, rather than the spouse.
That’s not to say that a child’s spouse couldn’t end up with an inheritance. If the parents were to leave assets to the adult child and then the adult child passed away, his or her property would likely go to the spouse, and that includes what was inherited from the parents. One would hope that this property would eventually be passed on to the grandchildren (assuming there are grandchildren), but this is not a given, as the spouse would have the legal right to do whatever he or she wanted with it. In fact, if the spouse remarried, his or her new spouse would be the legal choice to inherit any property that was left behind, including that which was inherited this way.
So, can a Marietta will and trust lawyer keep your child’s spouse out of your plan entirely? Yes! You can work with your attorney to develop an inheritance trust that will protect any money you leave your kids from divorce, lawsuits, and creditors and keeps your money in the family.
Creating an estate plan can be emotional and having the additional drama of a difficult personality certainly won’t help matters any. On the other hand, you may absolutely adore your son-or-daughter-in-law and want to make sure that they are taken care of by your estate. In those cases, you will want to make sure that your Marietta GA estate planning lawyer specifically mentions them and what they are inheriting for your own peace of mind.