It may be time to review your Will
Chances are that you have a Will somewhere that you had drawn up when your children were born. Depending on how long ago that was, you should probably dig it out, review it and then talk to an attorney about updating your estate plan to account for your current family situation.
It may be that nothing much has changed. Or you may have gotten a divorce several years back, even gotten remarried but never changed your estate planning documents to reflect these major life changes.
If you have remarried following a divorce or death of a spouse and you have children from the first marriage, you will want to pay close attention to how your estate plan addresses that situation. The best way to handle it is probably the creation of a Trust.
For the couple who marries later in life and has no children together, you can use the Trust to provide a place to live and income for the surviving spouse during his or her lifetime. Upon the death of the surviving spouse though, the estate would pass to the children of the first marriage, as opposed to any children the surviving spouse may have from a previous relationship. In Georgia, if no Will or Trust addresses the situation, the child from a first marriage will share their deceased parent’s estate with the surviving spouse (step-parent) in equal shares—the surviving spouse receives what is termed a child’s share.
For the couple who have children from previous relationships as well as together, a new Will and Trust can clarify how you wish your assets to be distributed amongst your spouse and all children, making sure that children from your first marriage are cared for. A trust can even ensure that your children’s potential ex-spouses do not have any claim to the assets of your estate upon your passing.
To spare your family from litigation related to your estate, you should create or revise your estate plan upon any divorce or remarriage. For that matter, you should have an attorney review your estate plan at least every two to three years (and more frequently is better) to determine if changes in your status or changes in the law require changes to your estate plan. At GeorgiaFamilyLaw.com | Mullin & Worrall LLC, we review estate plans to ensure our client’s wishes will be fulfilled. As a Personal Family Lawyer law firm, we strive to form lifelong relationships with our clients so that we can be there as a trusted advisor throughout their life and to be there for their loved ones at the time when they need us the most. Please see our Georgia Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Blog for more information.
SOURCE FOR POST: Mississippi Family Law Blog
California estate planning attorney Mina Sirkin has started a new blog called MomsRules.com. In a recent post, she talked about categories of people who need estate planning more than others:
Estate Planning: Not only everyone needs it, but there are categories of people whose need surpasses others. If you belong to one of the following groups, you need it more than others:
1. Parent of a newborn baby or minor child. Center of all of our planning as moms is our kids. Financially and legally protecting your baby is really about putting the system in place which will get you to that goal
2. Divorced parent.
3. Someone in your family or you suffered a major medical condition.
4. You recently lost a parent.
5. You recently retired and haven’t done any planning.
6. You own a business.
7. You have a special needs child.
8. You or your spouse travel often.
9. If you have a bad relationship with your siblings, parents or in-laws!
Why do you need it? Your risks of an unplanned estate are high enough that leaving major decisions to the State to make for you in your absence just doesn’t make sense. In California, if you don’t plan your own estate, your estate will not only go through probate depending on its size, your estate will be held-up in the courts for at least one year. Never mind that the State will set the rules as to WHO will get your estate.
Getting your affairs in order is SOOOO simple that if you are in any of the above categories, you would be crazy not to run to your local estate planning attorney to get your affairs in place.
SOURCE: MomsRules.com by Mina Sirkin
Mina N. Sirkin is a Family Wealth Lawyer and a TV Legal Expert in Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Sirkin is Certified as a Specialist Attorney in Estate Planning, Probate and Trust Law by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California. MSirkin@SirkinLaw.com. http://www.SirkinLaw.com.
You can save a lot of money and potential chaos and hard feelings among those closest to you by preplanning how you want your assets managed when you are incapacitated, and how your property will be divided at your death.
Powers of Attorney
In Georgia, you can sign a durable power of attorney to appoint someone to handle your assets if you become incapacitated. At a minimum, a power of attorney should include the power to:
- Manage and transfer all assets
- Deal with the IRS
- Make gifts on your behalf
- Create and amend any trusts you set up
You don’t need to transfer any assets at the time you sign a power of attorney, but it’s a good idea to keep the person you’ve chosen informed about your ongoing financial matters.
You can also appoint a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care to make health care decisions for you when you’re unable to do so yourself. This person can provide informed consent for treatment, or even refuse treatment for you.
Dying Without a Will
If you die without a will (known as dying "intestate") in Georgia, your assets will be divided amongst your immediate family. If you have a spouse but no children or parents, your entire estate will go to your spouse. If you have a spouse and at least one child or grandchild, your spouse shares equally with the children but will receive a minimum of one-third of your estate.
If you have children and no spouse, your entire estate goes to your children. If you have parents and no spouse or children, your entire estate will go to your parents. If your parents are no longer alive, your estate will go to your siblings.
Alternatives to a Will
Wills eventually become public after your death, with the details of what you owned and how much it was worth available to anyone curious enough to read the court file. As a result, many people look for more private ways to transfer their assets.
In Georgia, alternatives to making a will include:
- Life insurance policies or trusts
- Gifting cash or other assets before your death
- "Transfer On Death" ("TOD") or "Payable On Death" ("POD") bank accounts
- Holding assets by joint tenancy with right of survivorship ("JTROS"), with the assets transferring automatically to the other joint tenant at the time of death
- Holding assets through a tenancy in common, with each tenant having a divided interest in the property which can be independently sold
- Retirement plans and Individual Retirement Accounts ("IRAs")
- "Revocable living trusts" (sometimes called "grantor trusts"), giving all your assets to a trustee for management before your death
Making a Will
In Georgia, you can make a valid will if you are at least 14 years old and not under a legal disability. The will must be in writing and signed by you or by another individual in your presence and at your direction. Your will must be signed in front of two competent witnesses that are age 14 or older.
A Georgia lawyer who does a lot of estate planning can explain the consequences of some of the most basic choices you must make, such as whether property you want to leave to your minor children should be put into a trust at your death. For that reason, it makes sense to consult with a Georgia estate planning lawyer and have him or her draft your will, so that you don’t make costly mistakes or accidentally not accomplish what you intended.
Providing For Young Children
There are many kinds of trusts, but the most common is one you would set up for your minor children or incapacitated adult relatives for their care after you are gone and until they are old enough or well enough to take care of themselves. A parent can name a trustee to be in control of the finances and decide whether to sell or keep property, and manage assets such as real estate. The trustee, usually a family member or trusted friend, can be paid an hourly rate or a set monthly amount for their services out of the trust assets.
You will probably also want to name a guardian for your children, someone who would have physical custody of and take care of your children on a daily basis should you or your spouse be unable to do so.
"Probate" is the public process of:
- Filing and validating a will in court
- Paying all the debts and taxes of the deceased person
- Dividing up the assets according to the will or Georgia law
If you have no debts and no "titled property" such as real estate or vehicles to pass along to heirs, there may be no need for probate.
Probate lawyers generally charge by the hour, and they make sure everything gets processed according to the law.