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Cumming Georgia Estate Planning Law Blog

Without wills, people can cause serious problems for loved ones

It is never easy for a person to consider what will happen after he or she passes away. Drafting an estate plan requires the consideration of certain topics that are often difficult to think about, such as which beneficiaries and loved ones will receive what assets. Without wills and other important documents in place, it can cause significant complications for those left behind when a person passes away.

Most people in Georgia probably have an idea of what they hope will happen to their estate, but they may not have taken the time to have this formally documented in a legally enforceable manner. When a person dies with no will, state laws will determine what happens to the estate. Recently, famous singer Aretha Franklin died, leaving instructions for her estate in three different handwritten wills. Family members are now locked in a battle over her money and possessions, and it may take a court years to sort through and make a decision.

Drafting wills that give preference to one child over another

Estate planning can be an emotionally challenging and complex process. A Georgia reader who is drafting a plan will have to consider what will happen to his or her stuff after passing away, and that means designating beneficiaries to receive assets and money. Sometimes, this can be difficult for parents who need to draft wills that will give preference to one child over another.

There are many reasons why a parent will need or want to give preference to one child over another. For example, a parent may want to leave more to a child who has been caring for him or her. Other parents may consider the income and future prospects of their children and determine that one child deserves or needs more than the other. This is not easy to do, and it's also not easy to explain these reasons to adult children.

Revising wills should be a priority following a second marriage

Family structure has changed significantly in Georgia in recent years. Second marriages are often the norm and the resulting blended families can be warm and loving but may end up squabbling when it comes to resolving disputes resulting from a loved one's passing. In order to avoid this unfortunate circumstance, a priority of the newly weds should be revising their wills and any other estate planning documents.

Wills should be revised to include bequests to children from a former marriage. While the bulk of one's estate may go to a spouse, feelings of resentment can be avoided if bequests are included for children. Life insurance is also a means to provide for children. One may wish to leave the bulk of an estate to a spouse, but life insurance policies can be acquired that designate one's children as beneficiaries.

Is a third-party special needs trust right for my son?

Let us say that your 16-year-old son Andrew was the victim of a car crash. He is permanently disabled and qualifies for Supplemental Security Income, or SSI.

However, Andrew is about to receive a large insurance settlement. Will this affect his ability to receive SSI? What is the next step?

Care planning can help with life's difficult transitions

Life is unpredictable, and it can be difficult to deal with complicated things like medical emergencies and planning for end of life care. For this reason, it is helpful to consider the benefits of care planning, which can ease the stress of these situations. It can also ease the strain that a family may feel when helping a loved one navigate one of life's difficult transitions.

In Georgia and elsewhere, every adult has the right to make choices about his or her medical care based on personal beliefs, faith and family circumstances. This is particularly true regarding palliative care and end-of-life care. Through care planning and other estate planning steps, it is possible to outline wishes and specify which type of care a person may or may not want. When making these important choices, however, it is critical to do research, speak to experts and ensure that all decisions are well-informed.

Some people have wills, but they may not have estate plans

There is significant benefit in planning for the future, even if a person does not have significant wealth or valuable assets. One of the most important aspects of taking this step is that it will provide security for loved ones and beneficiaries, but unfortunately, even people who do this may not have all of the protection they need. Many Georgia readers may have wills, but they may not have complete or up-to-date estate plans. 

Wills are the foundation of any good estate plan. They allow a person to outline his or her wishes for what will happen to personal property, and they can also allow a person to decide what type of health care he or she may want in case of incapacitation. They can provide a significant amount of protection and security, but for many people, they need more than only a will to have a complete estate plan that adequately addresses all of their needs.

Couples without kids still benefit from wills and other tools

A couple without children may not see the urgency or importance of estate planning, but in reality, this is important for everyone, regardless of whether there are kids. Through wills and other types of estate planning tools, it's possible to have a say over what happens to assets, property and savings. This is important for couples of all ages and income levels. 

If a person dies without a will and his or her spouse is no longer living, the court will decide what happens to that person's estate. Even if there are no children, it is likely that a Georgia resident has a preference regarding who will inherit his or her property. Additionally, estate planning tools also allow a person to decide what type of medical care is to be provided in the case of incapacitation or serious illness.

Wills and estate planning for family pets

There are certain steps that Georgia reader can take to protect his or her family. Drafting wills and developing a thorough estate plan is a way that a person can be certain that he or she has a say over what happens to property and assets in the future. Typically, estate plans specifically address the distribution of assets, but a person can also make plans that will outline the care of family pets.

For some families, pets are treated and loved like they are family members. There can be a lot of confusion and uncertainty about what to do with a beloved pet after an owner dies. Through certain estate planning steps, an owner can ensure that his or her animal goes to the right person and has the right care he or she needs. This can provide people with peace of mind and security regarding important members of the family.

3 signs of undue influence in an aging loved one’s estate plan

If you have an aging mother or father, encouraging your loved one to draft a comprehensive estate plan makes sense. After all, well-written estate plans often minimize disputes. They also honor your parent’s wishes. Of course, sometimes, someone exerts undue influence over the estate planning process. 

According to the National Center for State Courts, undue influence occurs when someone exploits trust, dependence or fear to control another’s decision-making or assets. Still, uncovering undue influence over elderly individuals can be challenging. Here are three warning signs: 

Why are people reluctant to write wills?

It's never easy to think about the future, especially when it comes to one's passing or incapacitation. Because of this difficulty and perhaps the assumption that estate planning is not necessary, Georgia readers may delay the process of writing their wills and other documents. In reality, not having a will can make things very difficult for loved ones and beneficiaries. 

Statistics indicate that as many as 60% of people die without a will. Younger people are more likely to delay the estate planning process because they assume their age, health status and perhaps income level makes this process unnecessary. This is a step that is beneficial for people of any wealth status, education level and age. Having even a basic will and testament can allow a person to decide what will happen to his or her wealth and assets after he or she passes, making things much simpler for beneficiaries. 

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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.