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Cumming Georgia Estate Planning Law Blog

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?

Mistakes with wills and other documents can lead to problems

Estate planning is a process that involves important decisions that can impact a person's family and his or her own health care in the future. The decisions made are often complex, and Georgians understand the importance of carefully considering all choices that may affect their long-term interests. Proceeding carefully and avoiding certain mistakes is an important factor when drafting wills and other estate planning documents.

One mistake people often make is attempting to treat all the children the same in their wills. This may seem fair, but it can actually lead to complications. It may be prudent to consider what each child would want or need when designating assets. Additionally, establishing joint ownership of valuable assets, such as the house, may seem smart, but it can actually lead to various complications for beneficiaries.

Medicaid planning follows a web of rules for asset retention

The enormous cost of residency in a nursing home or similar qualified facility in Georgia and other states can be an unexpected development that intrudes to deplete a family's assets. This can erase the carefully laid plans of a couple to enjoy their assets through their retirement years. Medicaid planning may be a way to avoid the economic ravage and still provide the needed care for a loved one.

Medicaid is the main government source for funding a person's nursing home stay. Medicare does not cover any substantial costs for nursing home residence or care. The maze of regulations, however, can prevent a family from easily knowing how to qualify for Medicaid. A family will do best by contacting and consulting with an experienced elder law attorney at least five years prior to the time that one believes that a nursing home may be necessary.

Reviewing wills and larger estate plans can be comforting

No one wants to think about the loss of a loved one, but failing to discuss important estate planning matters can make a loss exponentially worse. For many Georgia families, sitting down for a discussion about wills and other estate planning documents can actually bring about a significant sense of relief. According to one study, only around 21 percent of parents have shared their plans with their adult children. That can leave many with unexpected outcomes when the time comes.

Families can and should schedule a time to sit down and go over the existing estate plan. That includes sharing the details of wills, trusts and other inheritance options. These plans can save heirs a great deal in taxes, if the estate plan is structured properly. Knowing what to expect is also important. 

Protecting your parent from financial scams

You have probably heard about the uptick in financial schemes aimed at the aging. Scam artists send emails purportedly from a close relative, asking for money to help get out of a bad situation. Or perhaps there are telephone calls from a bill collector claiming payment is necessary for some unrecognized bill or else legal action will occur.

The largest target population for financial scams is the elderly. They make easy marks often because they can get easily confused and manipulated with stories of hardship. What can you do to ensure your aging parent is not a victim of a scheme?

There are options for long term care planning

Planning for the future is an important part of life for all adults, especially those who are nearing or in retirement age. While few men and women in Georgia want to consider their long term care planning needs, taking a proactive approach can make a big difference in the final outcome. Fortunately, there are options when it comes to long term care planning

The Department of Human Health and Services estimates that as many as 40 percent of people over the age of 65 will need some form of in-home care. Around half of the population will eventually need care in a nursing home facility. Either option can be expensive, and can eat away at the wealth a family has worked for decades to build.

Even some estate planning pros neglect their own wills

There is something universally true about the reluctance to sit down and complete an estate plan. The habit of postponing this important task is so widespread that even many estate planning professionals fail to get their own wills, trusts and other documents in order. In fact, completing an estate plan is a New Year's resolution for many attorneys, and can also be a great approach for others in Georgia. 

As with so many tasks, making a list is a great place to begin. Create a list of priorities, including which loved ones should inherit. Also make a comprehensive list of assets, including savings, investments, retirement accounts, real estate and items of value. For many families, a list of sentimental items is also an important consideration. 

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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.