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Cumming Georgia Estate Planning Law Blog

Thinking through charitable contributions in wills and trusts

Estate planning isn't just about handing down wealth to one's children. For many Georgia families, giving back to their community is an important component of the estate planning process. There are a number of ways to go about charitable contributions, but how those gifts are handled in wills and trusts matters. Making wise choices can save in taxes while also supporting the causes near and dear to one's heart. 

Virtually all charities are equipped to handle cash donations, and these are usually the easiest gifts to set up and complete. However, there are advantages to structuring giving in other ways. With the right planning, it's possible to give real estate, valuable artwork and privately-held securities. 

Many millennials believe they don't need wills. They're wrong.

Few people wish to consider their own demise, but younger people have an especially strong aversion to thinking about death. That's understandable, considering that young people in Georgia are focused on getting their careers off the ground, finding a partner and shaping their adult lives. Without proper estate planning, however, those life plans can become derailed swiftly. Millennials need wills and other estate planning documents, even if they don't always recognize that need. 

In regard to wills, passing away without one gives the state a great deal of power over how one's assets are to be distributed. Many younger people assume that their assets will simply pass on to their parents, and that assumption is usually correct. However, without a will the parents are forced to go through probate, at a time they are already living through any parent's worst nightmare. Creating even a basic estate plan could take a lot of the burden off loved ones if an unexpected loss should occur. 

Wills simply aren't enough to address blended families

For those in Georgia who live in a blended family, meaning one in which there are children not born of the current marriage, estate planning needs are a bit more complicated. Without the proper precautions, it's possible for one's intended heirs to end up with little or nothing. Wills are not always sufficient to cover every aspect of estate planning needs

One of the most important realities of estate planning involves designating beneficiaries on insurance, retirement, savings and other accounts. Many people aren't aware that these beneficiary designations usually "override" the provisions laid out within a will. It's even possible for a court to make determinations outside of current inheritance laws. 

How to best help a parent with dementia

Dementia is a serious brain disorder that is shockingly common. Approximately 5.7 million Americans suffer from the disease, reports the Alzheimer's Association, and projections indicate that number will rise to 14 million by 2050. 

Roughly one out of every three senior citizens in the United States will die with some form of dementia. That means many children, like you, will need to deal with parents slowly succumbing to the illness. Whether you have your parents living at home with you or in an assisted care facility, there are many steps to take to provide parents with the care they need during this trying time. 

Wills can help owners plan for loving care for pets

Some Georgia residents have incredibly strong bonds with their pets, to the point they wish to take steps to ensure those animals are well cared for once the owners pass away. Wills and trusts are both options for creating a care plan for pets. These tools do require a level of advance planning, and should be considered at the time estate planning documents are drafted. 

Providing guidance and support for pets in a will begins by selecting a trusted friend or loved one who is able and willing to care for a pet if the need arises. That designation may change over time due to shifting roles and responsibilities. For example, a friend who is passionate about animals and already has a bond with a pet might be a great option. However, if that friend has a baby soon after, she may no longer be willing to take on a pet that could pose a risk to her child. That's why it's important to revisit the issue every couple of years, at a minimum. 

Wills must be reevaluated after the death of a spouse

Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult things that many Georgia residents will ever have to go through. The days and weeks that follow such a loss can be overwhelming, with a multitude of important decisions to make and items to check off the to-do list. One task that is often overlooked during this tumultuous time is the need to review the wills and other estate planning documents of both the decedent and the surviving spouse. 

In many cases, spouses create an estate plan that passes wealth and decision-making responsibilities to each other. That often serves the family well, and allows each spouse to rest assured that their husband or wife will follow through on their wishes in the event of a death. However, once the first spouse passes on, the surviving spouse must turn his or her attention toward creating new estate planning documents that grant those rights and responsibilities to someone else. 

Making wise choices for charitable contributions in wills

Giving back is a big priority for many Georgia families, and charitable giving becomes an important component of estate planning. The manner in which a family handles those contributions, however, can make a big difference in the taxation bottom line. There are ways to structure wills to pass wealth along to one's chosen charitable organizations while also reducing the tax burden for heirs. 

A common estate planning mistake involves thinking more about how to divide wealth between beneficiaries than the details of how to portion out those allocations. It's important to understand that not all assets carry the same tax burden. Take, for example, a family that intends to pass down the family home, an after-tax savings account, and an IRA. To simplify things, imagine that all three of those assets have an individual value of $1 million. 

"Elder orphans" have unique set of care planning needs

For many Georgia residents, a spouse and children are simply not part of their daily lives. Regardless of whether that fact is through circumstance or choice, the reality is that living the single life can pose a challenge once an individual moves into retirement and beyond. Older Georgia residents without close family ties have a unique set of care planning needs and must take steps to look after their own futures. 

Most people will have some sort of familial support as they age. This might be a healthy spouse, adult children, or even close nieces or nephews. Those connections can make it easier to adjust to the transitions of aging. Moving, finding help after a medical issue, managing medications, addressing home maintenance needs and more are all easier with a trusted helping hand. 

3 important duties of a personal representative in Georgia

When you find out you are the personal representative of an estate, you probably have a lot of questions. You may not know what to do or where to start. As the executor of a will, it is important to know your responsibilities and follow all the rules.

Managing an estate may sound like a daunting task, but it is easier when you get some advice and seek legal assistance. First, here are some tips to make you feel more comfortable about your role as a personal representative. 

Even the rich and famous sometimes overlook wills, other tools

With the recent passing of singer Aretha Franklin, the nation mourns the loss of an American musical icon. While Franklin certainly was skilled at dominating any stage she found herself upon, she didn't have the same level of ambition when it came to estate planning. Like so many other high-profile Americans in Georgia and elsewhere, Franklin departed without wills or trusts to guide the disposition of her extensive estate. 

Her loved ones are left to try and figure out what the singer would want in regard to distributing her assets. They'll also lose a considerable portion of that wealth to taxation. Absent any protective measures, the government can end up with as much as 40 percent of Franklin's estate, which surpasses $11.18 million. 

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At Hodges Law Firm, we handle a wide range of legal issues for clients throughout the Atlanta area, including elder law, estate planning, probate, Medicaid planning and protection, asset protection, litigation, and business law and services. We are knowledgeable in the law and understand the real life implications of legal actions.