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Cumming Georgia Estate Planning Law Blog

It is prudent to have wills and other estate plans in place

Estate planning is a prudent step for all Georgia adults, regardless of income, the size of the person's estate and health status. For married and single individuals alike, there is significant benefit in drafting wills and other estate planning documents to have protection and peace of mind. Failure to have even a basic will can be financially imprudent, leading to risk and complications down the road.

Despite the need to have an estate plan and the ease with which a person can draft one, many people fail to take this important step. In fact, studies suggest that as many 59 percent of adults do not have even a basic will. Adults of any age should have a will, but this is particularly important for people who are parents, as well as those who own property.

What happens when there are multiple wills for an estate?

After the death of a loved one, Georgia family members will review estate planning documents and determine what that individual wanted to do with his or her estate. Often, this means looking at a will to see what the decedent wanted to happen with assets, money, real estate and more. However, this process can become quite complicated when the family discovers there are multiple wills for the estate.

People often change and write new wills over the course of their lifetime. Divorce, a family feud, remarriage and other significant changes can mean that a previous will is no longer applicable. However, there are ways to do this that will render previous wills invalid and eliminate the possibility of complications for loved ones in the future. It is often complex and time-consuming to go back and determine the validity of each will, and it can cause significant stress for beneficiaries.

Wills can protect loved ones from unnecessary complications

Estate planning looks different for every person and family. What is necessary to have the right protections in place depend on factors such as the size of the Georgia estate, beneficiaries and goals a person may have for his or her future. Often, people overlook the importance of wills because they do not believe it is necessary for their situation or they misunderstand how a will can greatly benefit loved ones left behind.

One reason a person may be reluctant to draft a will is because he or she wants to keep financial information private. However, a lack of a will can cause significant complications after that person's death, which is an issue that impacts loved ones. Beneficiaries may wonder what they can do to help their family members, perhaps an aging parent, understand why it is important to have certain estate planning protections in place. 

Planning for long-term care with a dementia diagnosis

Your mother's dementia diagnosis is tough on your family, but as a result, certain things need addressing. For starters, her long-term care plan needs revisiting and revising. While she is only in the first stage of the disease, it may start progressing quickly.

Planning care for a loved one with dementia takes special consideration and time. Knowing what to do and making sure it gets done prior to admission is tantamount to a seamless transition.

Putting cryptocurrency in wills is only part of an estate plan

As the digital world fills more and more facets of modern life, many people in Georgia have made the choice to purchase cryptocurrency to include in their assets. People who own and use cryptocurrency might not have realized that this type of asset should be included in an estate plan. However, doing so might not be as simple as just writing out their wishes in their wills. The recent death of a billionaire who owned the digital marketplace QuadrigaCX shows just how important it is to ensure that cryptocurrency can be accessed by those who inherit it. Experts have a few suggestions on making that easier.

Since this kind of currency is very new, laws are still being created to manage it. In the meantime, the first step anyone with cryptocurrency should take is to make a list of all digital assets. Whether this list is handwritten or on a spreadsheet, it should also include the locations of anything that might be needed to access the assets. Getting the input of a financial expert or a legal professional is also a good idea. Some digital assets are nontransferable and professional assistance can help determine how to manage each kind.

Wills: A trust can protect an adult child living at home

Recent reports say that the number of multi-generational households has grown by 30 percent in the last two decades. There are many reasons for this, including divorce, losing a job or a parent needing care from an adult child. Here in Georgia, if one child lives with his or her parents for an extended amount of time, the parents may wish to leave their home to that child. Though leaving a home to all children in an equal share seems fair, it can leave the child who was living at home without a place to live once the parents pass on. Experts say that the way to avoid this problem is for families to create a trust as part the provisions of their wills.

A trust can protect both the child living in the home and any that are not. If the parent is eligible for property tax exemptions, the trust can preserve them. It will also prevent heirs from having to pay capital gains tax for the property if it is sold. The property will also be protected should one of the children get divorced. The trust cannot be irrevocable; otherwise, these provisions will not be enacted.

Care planning: AARP advocates legal measures to protect elders

As the population ages, more and more families will want to consider how to care for the older adults in their lives. Some may have concerns that older adults will not be properly protected by any professional caregivers that are entrusted with the task. Nursing home abuse is a sad circumstance for far too many families who may struggle with care planning. This is why Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow surveillance cameras in rooms of health facilities

The AARP is advocating for three legal measures that, it argues, would protect older residents from abuse. A Georgia advocacy manager says they include expanding access to broadband internet in rural areas, the increased usage of telehealth for patients to engage with their chosen medical professionals, and passing the Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-term Care Facilities Act. That last measure would allow families to install video surveillance in rooms of nursing homes and other long-term health care facilities where their elder loved ones live.

Don't forget digital assets when creating wills, other documents

Creating estate plans is a step that many Georgia residents have already taken. However, if older individuals created their plans years ago, they may have become lax on keeping their plans updated. If so, now may be an important time to review wills and other planning documents.

In particular, parties may want to consider updating their plans to account for assets they may not have had before, which includes digital assets. It is important to address these assets because they can become immensely difficult for surviving loved ones to access after a person's passing. Often, these assets include pictures posted online or emails that family members have sent to each other, which can hold a great deal of sentimental value. However, they may be hard to obtain if they are password protected.

How to structure wills to protect foreign assets

Some Georgia residents are fortunate enough to own a vacation home in another country, a business venture on distant shores or a boat registered in a foreign port. While all of these assets can be incredibly rewarding, they also pose a specific set of estate planning needs. Wills and other documents must be structured in very specific ways to ensure these assets are handled properly once the time comes. 

The best approach is to consider these issues at the time a new asset is acquired. The manner in which a piece of property or business asset is owned will factor in to how that asset can be handed down at the time of death. For those in Georgia who own foreign assets, it may be time to review the structure of those holdings and make changes where needed. 

Who is the right person to name as executor of your estate?

Perhaps you are preparing to draft your last will and testament. You will need to name an executor and your first thought is your spouse, but he or she may not be well-suited to the job.

What qualities should you look for in the person who will administer your estate?

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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.