Estate planning is the process of putting essential legal documents in place to protect yourself, your family, and your assets in the present and for the future. Your estate plan safeguards your family legacy and assets against potential risks. It also protects you and your family during your lifetime by planning for possible incapacity. Everyone should have an estate plan, but every estate plan is as unique as the personal and financial circumstances of the individual who creates it.
The estate planning lawyers at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia apply their extensive experience to create an estate plan that fully addresses your short-term and long-term goals, concerns, and needs. To accomplish that goal, we begin sitting down and talking with you to get to know you and your family and to understand your personal and financial circumstances in detail.
Our attorneys work closely with you on every detail and document in your estate plan to ensure that you know what options are available to accomplish specific goals and what each document accomplishes. After you settle on a structure for your plan, we draft the necessary legal documents and review them with you. Then, we assist you in executing each document in full compliance with the requirements of Georgia law.
Whether you are a senior wishing to address late-in-life concerns, need an estate plan for your young or blended family, are a married or single individual wanting to protect your family legacy, or have other special circumstances you wish to address, our Cartersville estate planning lawyers can help you accomplish your goals.
While each estate plan is tailored to the personal and financial situation of the person who creates it, every sound estate plan should include certain documents, each of which has a different and specific purpose. Some address distribution of your estate after you pass away. Others protect you and your family during your lifetime.
A last will and testament and a trust are the two primary documents in your estate plan that transfer property to your heirs and beneficiaries after you pass away. A will accomplishes other goals as well.
While some estate plans do not need a trust, virtually every estate plan should include a last will and testament. However, contrary to a common misconception, a will alone is not a complete estate plan. In addition, the role of a last will and testament depends on the structure of your plan. An estate plan without a trust does not need the same kind of will as an estate plan with a trust.
Distribution of property to your loved ones through a will is very different from transferring property through a trust. When a beneficiary receives property through a will, they receive full control of the entire asset or property at once. They can do with it whatever they wish, including squandering it. The assets are also subject to claims of creditors and others, such as divorcing spouses of adult children.
In contrast, if you create a trust to hold your assets, you can control the distribution through the instructions to the trustee in your trust document. You can limit use of assets to specific purposes and control the timing of distributions, including making allocations over a period of time. Control over distributions is one of the primary advantages of distributing property using a trust, rather than a will. Other significant advantages of a trust include avoiding Georgia probate and keeping the financial details of your estate private.
There are many different types of trusts, each of which addresses specific goals. Talking with a knowledgeable Georgia estate planning attorney is the only right way to determine whether you could benefit from including a trust in your estate plan, as well as deciding what type of trust belongs in your plan. Our Georgia estate planning lawyers have substantial experience creating all types of trusts for our clients’ estate plans. We can help you decide whether a trust belongs in your plan and create a trust that fully implements your goals.
A durable financial power of attorney and a health care directive are the documents in your estate plan that protect you and your family during your lifetime if you become incapacitated and cannot take care of your own financial and personal matters, including medical and health care.
In a durable financial power of attorney, you designate a person you trust (called your agent or attorney in fact) to take care of your financial affairs in the event of incapacity. Your health care directive, also called an advance directive, authorizes someone you trust (it can be the same person appointed in your financial power of attorney or a different person) to make personal and health care decisions for you and communicate them to your medical providers in the event of incapacity.
Your health care directive may also include an expression of your specific wishes for health care, including end-of-life care. This part of the directive is sometimes called a living will, even though the document is not at all related to a last will and testament.
The agents you name in your financial power of attorney and health care directive have substantial fiduciary duties under Georgia law, as do others you designate in your estate plan, such as the executor of your estate or a trustee. Choosing the fiduciaries in your plan is an extremely important task.
While you may want to recognize people close to you with these designations, some people may not be a good fit for the legal responsibilities that accompany the positions. Our estate planning lawyers help you choose your fiduciaries carefully, to ensure that you designate individuals fully capable of carrying out the significant legal duties they may eventually assume.
For some individuals, estate planning includes concerns relating to long-term care planning, such as nursing home planning and Medicaid planning. Our estate planning attorneys practice in these important areas, and also assist clients with other concerns that may arise for seniors as part of our elder law practice. When you turn to us for your estate planning needs, you can rest assured that we have the experience and knowledge to help you address all your goals and needs, even those that go beyond the traditional confines of an estate planning practice.
Estate planning is one of the most important ways that you can take care of your loved ones and make certain that you address their future and your own. To accomplish this critical task, you can count on our trusted and respected estate planning attorneys at Asset Protection & Elder Law of Georgia to provide you with the right guidance and a sound estate plan.
From our location in Cartersville, we provide services to clients in Bartow County, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Gordon County, Floyd County, Paulding County, and elsewhere in the State of Georgia. We welcome you to contact us for assistance with your estate planning needs.