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.
It’s always a great feeling when a new client meets with a wills and trusts attorney in Marietta to get started on his or her estate planning. Every day, people in Marietta recognize the importance of putting a plan into place to prepare for their own futures as well as those of their heirs. Wills and trusts are two very important tools that the client and lawyer can create to protect that future. As important as that initial meeting is, however, there is still a need to follow up regularly to keep your wills and trusts updated and reflective of your current situation.
There are some times when it is obvious that your wills and trusts should be updated, but there are other times that are easier to overlook.
Major Life Changes
When there is a major change in your life, it’s time to call your Marietta wills and trusts lawyer. These types of changes, such as a marriage, divorce, or birth of a child may dramatically affect who you want to name as beneficiaries.
Health situations are also another big indicator that it’s time to update your wills and trusts. Medical care can be incredibly expensive, and you may need to rearrange your plans to accommodate the costs. If dealing with a terminal illness or potentially life-threatening treatment, it also makes sense to ensure that your plans reflect your wishes.
Many Purchases Should Trigger Updates
Wills and trusts lawyers are able to help clients lay out a plan based on what the client has at the time. When your situation changes through major purchases (or sales) of real estate or other valuable assets, you should update your estate plan to reflect those changes. You want to ensure that the asset is included in your will or protected by your trust.
Purchases of, or changes in insurance policies, will likely also lead to a call to your Marietta attorney. These purchases will affect what you have to leave behind and will need to be reflected in your estate plan.
While you may not need to make changes with your Marietta wills and trusts attorney every year, it’s still a good idea to do an annual review of all your estate planning materials. In addition to refreshing yourself on what is there, your lawyer will also be able to advise you on any laws that have recently changed that might affect decisions you’d previously made. Just reading over the documents may be enough to notice a change that needs to be made. Not only does this give you an opportunity to make sure your plans still fit your needs, but by keeping them up-to-date, you are strengthening your will against being invalidated later. After all, if you’ve worked with an attorney to keep the wills and trusts fresh and in accordance with the most recent life changes, they are likely to reflect your true intentions.
When meeting with a wills and trusts lawyer in Atlanta for the first time, many adult children realize that they have no idea where their parents stand in terms of having the right plans in place to protect their assets and wishes if something happens to them.
Do their parents have a will or trust and, if so, where are these and other important documents located? Should assisted living or nursing home care become necessary, what plans are in place to cover the costs? Will mom or dad even have enough money after these costs to carry them through retirement?
These are some very important questions that need to be asked, and an experienced Atlanta GA wills and trusts lawyer can steer you in the right direction. That being said, no matter how good your relationship is with mom or dad, the subject can be a difficult one to approach.
Perhaps the best place to start is timing. Holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are known to be stressful times, so you might want to avoid these occasions. Current events often present the perfect opening, as there is always some Hollywood legend or financial mogul who dies leaving a fortune for the heirs to squabble over.
Or, the personal experience of a friend or relative can be worked into a dialogue. “So-and-So’s mother was admitted to the hospital recently and no one knew where to find her important papers.” For the adult child who is doing estate planning of their own, it would only be natural to want to discuss their parents’ plans with them during this time.
For some families, several conversations over a longer period of time might be a better approach. No one wants to feel like they are being told what to do, and money matters are often emotionally charged conversations to begin with.
Remember, advance preparations are in the best interests of the parents, so that their wishes can be carried out upon death. Be sure to communicate this from the start to avoid your parents shutting down or getting defensive about the questions you are asking.
Finally, don’t forget to include the topic of long-term care in your conversations with mom or dad. While no one likes to think about the possibility of becoming disabled or incapacitated by something like a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease, it does happen and it’s something that must be planned well in advance for. If you start early enough, an Atlanta wills and trust lawyer can help you put the right plans in place to ensure mom or dad’s wishes during incapacity are honored and that they won’t be forced to sell or give away all of their assets in order to qualify for state or federal assistance.
Are you now ready to help your parents put a rock-solid plan in place that ensures their end-of-life wishes are honored to the fullest? Then be sure to call our Atlanta wills and trusts lawyers for assistance. With the mention of this article (“TOUGH CONVERSATIONS”), you may qualify for a Georgia Family Legacy Planning Session ($750 value), at no-charge. Simply call 770-425-6060 to find out more.
Single parents tend to work hard for their children, so it’s no wonder that those in Marietta and Cobb County want to protect the children they would leave behind should the adult be killed or become incapacitated. Every day it falls to the single parent to provide just about everything for his or her children, and with 13 million single parent households in the US, there are a whole lot of folks doing their best to provide everything their children need today. Working with a Marietta Georgia guardianship lawyer is the right step to make sure they are also provided for in the future.
As a single parent, your estate plan may look different from that of a married parent. In those cases, there are laws in place to ensure that both property and custody have a means of passing to the surviving spouse. In your case, however, the courts would determine your next of kin and disperse your property, as well as appoint a guardian, based on Georgia state laws. While it’s great that there are laws like this to rely on when a single parent dies with no will in place, it’s not necessarily such a wonderful thing if the person/people named are not those you would have chosen yourself.
For example, it’s quite common for grandparents to be given custody of a child upon the parent’s death. In many families, that would be the perfect choice. In others, however, a better choice could be made. Perhaps there has been a falling out between family members, or it’s possible that the grandparents are either too old or just otherwise not in the right place in their lives to be starting over raising children.
Clearly, appointing a guardian for your child or children is one of the most pressing issues for which to see an estate planning attorney in Marietta or Cobb County. It’s not the only one, though. This lawyer can also help you to create a financial plan which can help support your child even if you aren’t there. You might be advised to look into a life insurance policy or to participate in a Georgia college savings plan. Likely, a guardianship lawyer in Marietta will also help you to create a trust or trusts which can not only protect some of the money from being heavily taxed, but also give you some say over how the money is to be used and by whom.
An estate planning attorney will also help you to make sure that everything is in order. He or she will ask you about bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and even military service, as all of these can possibly be directed to the care of your child or children. Every family, no matter what the marital status is, is unique. With the help of a Marietta estate planning lawyer, you can put together a plan that works for your specific situation.
Three-time New York City Mayor Ed Koch died on Feb. 1, leaving an estate estimated between $10-$11 million. And it’s a good thing that “Hizzoner” loved governing, because one-quarter of his estate will be going to the state and federal governments.
During his tenure as Mayor, Koch was famous for asking people on the street, “How’m I doin’?” He would have been better served to ask that same question to a Family Estate Planning Lawyer before he passed on.
In his will, Koch bequeathed most of his assets to blood relatives – a sister and her husband, a sister-in-law, and three nephews – as well as to his secretary and a charity. And because Mayor Koch used a Will and didn’t put his assets in Trust, it’s all public. In fact, you can read the details of exactly what Mayor Koch left behind and to who right here.
When the former Mayor died, the federal estate tax exemption was at $5.25 million; and since his estate is estimated at twice that amount, Uncle Sam will net a cool $1.45 million. New York State has an estate tax exemption of just $1 million, meaning it will receive $1.1 million from the estate, according to a Forbes article.
As Forbes notes, Koch could have made some savvy estate planning moves before he died by:
Creating a trust for the benefit of his nephews, who inherited the bulk of his estate, and their descendants. Up to $5.25 million that goes into a trust would have been exempt from generation-skipping transfer tax. (And, would have protected those assets for generations upon generations. This was a big oversight.)
Making additional gifts up to $5.25 million right before he died could have significantly reduced his state tax bill, since New York does not have a gift tax. This would have saved his heirs an estimated $600,000.
And there’s more he could have done as well, but he either didn’t get good counsel or he didn’t heed it. Now, it’s too late. And, of course, it’s all public.
If you would like to learn more about strategies to keep your money out of the government and the size of your assets totally private, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call today and mention this article.