What Exactly Is Estate Planning In Georgia?
Estate planning is simply creating a plan that allows someone to name who they want to receive the things they own when they die. An estate plan, even if you don’t have a written will or an established trust, sets up everything that’s needed to transfer your assets if you pass away.
What Happens If Someone Dies Without An Estate Plan Or A Will?
If someone dies without an estate plan or a will, then the state that they live in or the state where their assets are held decide where everything is going to go. It might not line up with their desires, which is why we tell everyone that they need a will.
How Often Should People Give Their Estate Plan A Checkup?
We recommend checking over and updating your will every two years. At the very least, when there is a major life event or a major change in your life, like a divorce or a death of one of your trustees or your beneficiary, you should update your will accordingly.
What Are The Basic Items In An Estate Plan? What Does Each Do?
There are several items that you want to make sure that you include in an estate plan, including a trust or a will, which outline how your estate should be managed. Documents that help you in the event of incapacity or illness include an advanced directive for healthcare, a living will, and a HIPAA authorization. The HIPAA authorization allows for the release of your protected health information to loved ones and people who might need it.
Some people who have a trust may also have a pour over will, which says that if they missed any assets in their trust, then they have poured that asset over into the trust. A trust sets up a structure, usually in advance of your death, detailing what would happen when you pass away. If something happens to you and you’re incapacitated and can’t manage your assets, you may want your items to be held in the name of the trust, so that a trustee can administer them in your incapacity, so you can be cared for, or so that your minor children can be cared for. If you pass away without a trust, your personal representative would normally have to gather ten or more copies of your death certificate and run around to the various institutions that hold your assets, like your bank, insurance company or investment company. They would need to change the name on everything into the name of the estate as they close out the estate. With a trust, you’re doing that in advance. By establishing the trust and putting the pool of assets that you own into a vessel that will holds those assets, you decide how those are going to be distributed if you die or if you’re incapacitated. The trust, therefore, can give you greater control over your assets and ensure protection for your heirs from divorce or creditors.
A power of attorney is another important document that simply allows someone to write checks or take other actions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. If you’re in the hospital and you can’t speak for yourself, but you still want to pay your rent or change your life insurance policy, you can control who has the power of attorney, giving them the power to sign things on your behalf. You control the amount of power you give your representative.
If you’re in the hospital, an advanced directive for healthcare sets up which decisions you want made and who may make those decisions, if you can’t make health decisions for yourself. You can specify how long you want to be on life support, the extent of life support you want, and whether or not that person has control over putting you in a psychiatric institution. HIPAA authorization to release protected health information should also be included. When we go to the doctor, we sign a privacy affidavit saying that we understand that healthcare information is covered by HIPAA. It means that a doctor cannot release your protected health information to anyone, unless you say that you want that information released. A HIPAA authorization allows you to state who can get information on your health care. It’s particularly useful if you end up hospitalized away from home and your family is not with you. They need to get your health information from the doctor who’s treating you. If they have your HIPAA authorization, the doctor will release information to them.
Parents would want to include a standby guardianship for minor children. That would name someone who is a short-term guardian, who can take quick custody of your children if something happens to you. It would be someone who may not be your long term guardian, but could serve as a short-term person who could step in and take the children until your long-term guardian can prepare to take care of them.
A long-term guardian is the person who’s going to take full guardianship of your minor children, should you become incapacitated or pass away. A long-term guardian document should be in your record, whether it’s included in the will or a standalone guardianship document.
We also recommend including instructions for your care. If you become disabled before you die, you can tell your loved ones how you wish to be cared for. Perhaps you don’t want to leave your home, but if you must, you prefer a facility that will allow your beloved dog to be with you or you have special personal items that you want to have with you.
Some families also require special needs provisions. Special needs provisions will protect any loved ones who might suffer from an illness or disability or are simply irresponsible with money.
Life insurance, of course, should be considered as part of your estate plan as well to ensure that beneficiaries are properly named.
Finally, if you own a business, you should consider business protections within the estate plan to provide for the transfer of the business at your retirement, disability, or death.
The legal documents described above provide language stating how you want your assets distributed or controlled. We recommend going beyond the legal description by including a legacy letter. A legacy letter is not a legal document. Rather, the legacy letter allows you to pass on the faith, goals and values that are important to you. For parents, the legacy letter allows you to leave your children with more than just assets. Through your words, you are passing along your hopes and dreams for your children and how would like your children to be raised if you are not here to raise them. Where the legal documents protect your assets, the legacy letter conveys your heart.
For more information on Estate Planning In The State Of Georgia, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (844) 329-6469 today.
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