Georgia Estate Planning Lawyer: Learn from These Celebrity Mistakes

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.

Estate Planning for College Graduates in Georgia

Estate Planning for College Graduates in Georgia

Estate Planning for College Graduates in GeorgiaBy the time you earn your college degree, you may not feel like you have anything to “protect” through estate planning.  After all, the stereotype of the “starving college student” got started for a reason!  But, even if you leave college with a load of student loans and an entry-level job (or hopes of one), you will do yourself a favor by spending just a little time doing some basic estate planning here in Marietta and Cobb County, Georgia.

Marietta GA Estate Planning for Your Physical Self

There are tons of reasons to do your estate planning, and it seems like those most often talked about are passing on your possessions and avoiding taxes.  It can be argued, however, that there is a far more important reason, and it’s one that even young college graduates shouldn’t overlook: your medical decisions.

What happens if you become injured or otherwise capacitated and can’t tell the doctors what you want?  Who makes decisions for you about what kind of life-sustaining measures should be taken or whether or not you consent to surgery?  In most states, an individual’s parents are given this responsibility (although that is not always the case).  Whether you want your parents in that role or someone else, the way to make sure you have a say is to have an estate planning lawyer in Marietta Georgia draw up a legally binding “medical power of attorney.”

Marietta  Estate Planning for Your Finances

It may not seem like you have much of anything to look after when it comes to finances and the recent college grad.  In reality, though, you likely do have some things to consider.  For example, do you have any debt, and if so, do you know what happens to it if you become incapacitated or pass away?  The answer has a lot of variables such as the kind of debt, whether or not you have other authorized users on your account, and more.

One of the reasons you worked so hard for your degree was likely so you could move out into the workforce, and with that comes options such as retirement accounts and insurance.  Each of these includes naming a beneficiary for benefits, and you’ll want to make sure you are up to speed on what it means and have the appropriate people named.  Some accounts don’t have specific beneficiaries, so setting up even a simple will can help make the transfer of those funds much easier and less expensive when the time comes.

Marietta Georgia Estate Planning for Your Partner

Many college graduates are moving forward with their lives as couples, both married and unmarried.  Either way, estate planning in Marietta and Cobb County GA  is an important part of making sure that your partner is cared for and receives the appropriate benefits upon your death. As mentioned above, you want to make sure you have the correct information filled out when it comes to beneficiaries on accounts, but you will probably want to go a step further to ensure that your assets pass in the way you want.  Typically, an unmarried partner is not entitled to the same benefits as spouses, so if you don’t set up the situation appropriately through well-reasoned estate planning, your significant other might be entitled to absolutely nothing!

Estate Planning Matters For College Grads, Too!

Contrary to what you may have heard, estate planning is NOT just for the ultra-wealthy or the elderly.  Estate planning is just as important for the college grad and savvy young adult, too.   Celebrate your recent graduation and your success by getting a complimentary review of your situation. Schedule a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session with the mention of this article and let us help you layout a road map for lasting protection and peace of mind in the future.

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Marietta Estate Planning Attorney Describes Savvy Year-End Tax Moves for Retirement Plan Owners

Marietta Estate Planning Attorney Describes Savvy Year-End Tax Moves for Retirement Plan Owners

retirement funds

Marietta Estate Planning Attorney

Even though the elections are over, no one knows what Congress will do by the end of the year when it comes to taxes so retirees are advised to look at strategies to cut their tax bills now rather than wait for Congress to act.  With the fiscal cliff looming, Here are some considerations from Kiplinger’s:

Max out on tax-deferred retirement savings plans.  The limits for contributions to a 401(k) or other employer-based retirement plan for 2012 is $17,000; if you are over the age of 50, you can contribute up to $22,500.  Contributing the maximum is also a smart move if you plan to convert a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA since it lowers your taxable income.  IRA contribution limits in 2012 are $5,000; those over 50 can stash away $6,000.

Make gifts before 2012 ends.  Most experts expect Congress to do nothing when it comes to estate and gift taxes, then catch up and make any changes retroactive to Jan. 1, 2013 when the exemption for both goes to $1 million from $5.12 million and the maximum estate tax rate jumps from 35 to 55 percent.  Review your estate plan with your Personal Family Lawyer® to see if gifting makes sense for you this year.

Postpone RMDs as long as possible.  Experts recommend you wait until mid-December to take your required minimum distributions from your IRAs.  The tax break allowing those over the age of 70 ½ to donate $100,000 tax-free to charities directly from their IRAs expired at the end of 2011, but Congress has extended this break several times and may do so again.  So postponing your RMD as long as possible (but not past mid-December) may pay off.

If you’d like to learn more about retirement planning, call our Marietta estate planning law firm 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 five people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at no charge. Call us today at 770-425-6060 and mention this article.

 

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in Georgia

Estate Planning for Same-Sex Couples in Georgia

estate planning for same-sex couples in Georgia

It’s not unusual for legislation to affect the realm of estate planning. From tax implications to guardianship of children, an Atlanta estate planning attorney has to keep up with the ever-changing legal landscape.  This is certainly true when it comes to estate planning for same-sex couples in Georgia.

The legal aspects of a same-sex relationship often fall under the category of contract law in states where these relationships are not legal. It can be complicated, and in order to protect your property and your relationship, it is highly recommended to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.

There are several issues which need to be clearly addressed.  Keep in mind, too, that this is just an introduction, and there are many other considerations to make with your lawyer.

Powers of Attorney

If one partner was to fall ill, would the other be allowed to make medical decisions for him or her?  If a medical power of attorney has not been created, then the answer is likely “no.”  The decision-making role would go to a blood relative.  The same is true of finances.  In order for one partner to have control of the other’s finances during an illness or after death, a financial power of attorney needs to be in place.

Planning for Assets

While legally married couples have the protection of assets usually being passed directly to a spouse, same-sex couples do not typically enjoy these same considerations.  That’s why it is important to make sure that you name your partner as your beneficiary when and where you can.  Some possibilities include:

  • Bank Accounts
  • Life Insurance Policies
  • Mutual Funds/Stock Portfolios
  • Retirement Plans

Your estate planning attorney in Atlanta will have a comprehensive list of assets which should be considered when naming beneficiaries.

Taxes

Estate and gift taxes are another area in which same-sex couples don’t have the same protections as those who are legally married.  For example, legally-married spouses can gift their money and assets to their spouses without facing huge tax repercussions later.  Inheritance taxes have received considerable attention as of late, but the fact is those who don’t have the protection of legal marriage are still going to pay more than others.

Your estate planning attorney in Atlanta can help create ways to limit the amount of taxes which would be expected after the death of one partner.  This can be achieved through well-thought-out gifts, living trusts, and other means.

The fact of the matter is same-sex couples need to put time and effort into the estate planning process in order to ensure their partners receive what they are entitled to receive.  While estate planning really should be done by all kinds of couples, there are some safeguards in place to protect those who are legally married, and these options are just not yet available to same-sex couples in Georgia.  In the meantime, it just makes good sense to set up a meeting with a reputable attorney and add some peace of mind to your relationship. Our Marietta Georgia estate planning firm can help.