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Cumming Georgia Estate Planning Law Blog

Family drama can complicate wills and trusts

Many wealthy families in Georgia and elsewhere are concerned about the hit that the estate tax might place on their inherited wealth. In reality, however, there's another concern that many estate planning experts say is far more likely to deplete those funds. When surviving family members fight over wills and other estate planning provisions, things can become very contentious and very expensive in a short period of time. 

Part of the problem lies in how complicated the American family has become over the years. Today's family trees are likely to have far more branches than in generations past. Multiple ex-spouses, children from various unions and blended families are all situations that can complicate estate planning. 

A qualified charitable contribution can help Medicare planning

As Georgia residents near retirement age, it's important to start thinking ahead about Medicare. Making the appropriate changes a few years in advance can maximize one's Medicare benefit when the time comes. One way to engage in active Medicare planning is to consider the role that a qualified charitable contribution could play in future finances. 

If an individual exceeds the government-set income standards, he or she will eventually pay a surcharge on Medicare premiums. The amount of that surcharge depends on the individual's tax return information from the two years prior to applying for coverage. That's why it is important to begin planning by the age of 63, at the very latest. An earlier start is even better. 

Little physician oversight on home care planning

For individuals who require in-home care, depending on a strong system of physician oversight may not be the best way to ensure a positive outcome. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, many physicians who are tasked with reviewing home health care plans only spend around one minute reviewing those plans before signing off on them. This research underscores the importance of Georgia families engaging in strong care planning to ensure that loved ones are properly taken care of if and when the time comes. 

For people on Medicare who need skilled home health services, a plan of care must be certified by a physician in order for Medicare coverage to apply. The care plan is created by home health agencies and presented to the physician for review. However, of 1,000 physicians asked, 47 percent said that they spent less than a minute reviewing the form, and another 21 percent spent more than two minutes on the review. 

Protect your disabled child with a special needs trust

As a parent of a disabled child, your estate planning needs involve special considerations, and these considerations often involve making arrangements for who is to care for your child once you are no longer able to do so yourself. As a special needs parent, you also must figure out how to support your child in the long-term financially, and one way to do so involves establishing a special needs trust.

A special needs trust, or supplemental needs trust, is something you can create if you wish to leave your child assets that will not hinder his or her ability to maintain government benefits through Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and so on. You can fund the trust using insurance policies and other assets that are not the direct property of the child for which you create the trust.

Considering reservoir trusts in addition to wills

When planning an estate, the primary focus for the vast majority of people is ensuring that their accumulated wealth passes down to loved ones without undue losses. Wills certainly play a role in that process, but they are not the only planning tool available. For many Georgia families, a reservoir trust can be a great option. 

A reservoir trust works by holding wealth in a way that is tightly controlled. The individual(s) who set up the trust dictate the terms under which funds can be paid out of the trust. There are rules for how inheritors can access their inheritance, which makes this a very powerful estate planning tool.

Wills should be a part of spring preparations

Signs of spring are popping up all over Georgia. Homeowners are cleaning out closets to make way for new things and planting flowers to add curb appeal. In addition to these traditional spring tasks, many also recognize the need to take a closer look at their families' wills to make sure they are in keeping with current wishes.

The purpose of a will is to identify who will be responsible for taking care of one's estate upon death. Additionally, the will specifies who will inherit what. This document is helpful in making sure that the individual's wishes are fulfilled and in minimizing family controversy regarding the individual's estate. As such, if a will has yet to be drafted, now is a good time to take care of this matter.

Personal care planning serves a number of purposes

Like other Georgia residents, you probably worked hard to get where you are today. You spent your life accumulating the assets you have and want to make sure that they are available for your family members after you are gone and that they are there if you need them in your later years. Regardless of your reasons, personal care planning can help achieve these goals.

Perhaps you want to make sure that creditors cannot reach your assets if you incur personal liabilities. Maybe you your marriage is ending or you are about to marry again and want to make sure that your property remains separate. You may even want to make sure that your assets do not count in the event that you need to apply for government assistance with long-term care costs. These are just some of the reasons that you, and others, wish to protect your property.

Wills are an important part of taking care of loved ones

As one ages, thoughts of who should inherit what and what will happen to one's estate often come to mind. Yet, even though the average Georgia resident contemplates these decisions, there are still some who fail to take the necessary steps involved to create their wills and other estate planning documents. Once these documents become necessary, it is too late. The only time in which a will is necessary is upon the death of the individual. Once this occurs, the will directs how the majority of an individual's assets will be distributed.

The first step in this process is the appointment of an executor as a part of the will. This is the individual who will be responsible for making sure that assets are distributed as directed by the will. Additionally, this individual will see to it that debts are paid prior to such distribution.

Why you should tackle Medicaid planning now

When it comes to long-term care and estate planning, many people in the Cumming area believe they do not need to rush to fine tune them. Though you might feel you and your partner are in great health now, you never know what may happen tomorrow and in the following months that can change your situation. For example, if you or your spouse suddenly received a diagnosis of dementia or some other medical condition that requires living in a nursing home, how would you pay for it? 

Medicare does not provide full coverage for long-term care. Medicaid does, but there are limits to the benefits. To qualify, you must meet certain criteria. It is much easier to plan for Medicaid benefits before you need them. Here is some information you should know about Medicaid and end-of-life care

Medicaid planning can help to protect assets

Nursing home care will become a fact of life for many Georgia individuals. While this type of care may be necessary, it does come with a hefty price tag. In fact, the average nursing home charges in excess of $8,000 per month for each resident. For those who have been diligent in their Medicaid planning, this may not be devastating news; however, for those who will be required to pay this expense on their own, the consequences can be substantial.

For those anticipating nursing home residency, or even those currently residing in a nursing home, proper Medicaid planning is essential to preserving one's assets. The first step in such preparation is making sure that the individual meets Medicaid eligibility qualifications. Many individuals fall short here because they have listened to friends and family rather than seeking professional advice.

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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.