Funeral planning is not a pleasant experience, especially when you’re pre-planning your own. But Cobb County will lawyers stress that it’s important to have your wishes in writing for after you pass away, since you won’t be around to let anyone know what you want done once you’re gone.
Do you want to be buried or cremated? Do you want a traditional funeral or a celebration of life gathering? Is there a certain person who you know will carry out your wishes when you’re gone? These are important questions that you should have answers to, and more importantly, questions that your loved ones should know the answers to as well.
Cobb County will lawyers often find that clients believe funeral instructions come as part of their Last Will and Testament – but this is not generally the case. A Last Will and Testament can direct how your assets and property are distributed and who should be named as guardians of your underage children, if necessary, but it will not typically direct what should be done with your body after you pass away or how your funeral arrangements should be handled.
In order to do this, you will need a Disposition of Remains – this document allows you to state what you would like done with your body after you’ve passed away, what type of funeral, if any, you’d like to have, and who should be contacted in the event of your death. You can make this document as detailed as you’d like, and unless there are unforeseen circumstances, your wishes will most likely be carried out.
For example, singer David Bowie wished that his remains would be flown to Bali after his death so that they may be cremated in a Buddhist ritual. Unfortunately, this could not be done for logistical reasons – which Bowie prepared for. Instead, his body was cremated and his ashes were scattered in Bali, which Bowie requested in the event that his remains could not be cremated on the island.
In addition, Cobb County will lawyers warn that extraordinary or outlandish disposition wishes, such as scattering ashes at Disney’s Haunted Mansion ride, cannot be legally enforced. It’s important to keep a realistic view of what should happen after you pass away, as well as to make sure that you are not putting your loved ones in a tight spot between carrying out your wishes and possibly breaking the law. A Cobb County will lawyer can give you guidance as to what type of conditions may or may not be enforceable in your documented Disposition of Remains.
If you have any questions about the Disposition of Remains, or you want to review your estate plan to make sure that your wishes have the best chance of being carried out, please contact us at 770-425-6060 to set up a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session at no charge ($600 value).
Recent studies have shown that only a little more than half of all Americans have a Will or Trust document in place to direct their estate after they pass away, and that the vast majority of those documents have not been updated in the last five years. Even worse, it’s been reported that most adult children are unaware if their parents even have an estate plan and would be unable to find estate planning documents, if they did indeed exist. These can lead to serious troubles down the line and are among some of the top mistakes people make regarding their estate plans. Marietta estate planning lawyers have compiled this list of additional estate planning mistakes that you should be aware of, and hopefully avoid:
In a perfect world, there would be no sibling rivalry – both before and after the death of parents. However, it’s just a fact of life that families don’t always get along, and that could not be more painful or true than when a parent passes and disputes arise about the inheritance. A lot of times this is caused by unequal distributions amongst siblings. Marietta Georgia estate planning attorneys often advise their clients to have a conversation with their future beneficiaries in advance about why they are – or are not – leaving them certain assets or valuables in their estate. If the parent is uncomfortable having this type conversation, a letter written to each beneficiary to be read upon the parent’s passing can serve the same purpose.
Marietta GA estate planning attorneys often see this issue come up with estates that do not leave enough revenue to pay estate taxes, forcing the beneficiaries to sell property such as homes or other assets just to pay off estate tax debt. Careful planning with an estate planning lawyer can help you avoid these kinds of issues, and makes it worthwhile for you to meet with your estate planning attorney on a regular basis to learn about changes in the estate tax law for your financial situation so that you can update your estate plan accordingly.
Out-of-Date Estate Plan
Unexpected changes happen in life, such as a falling out with a family member, a divorce, or a new marriage. However, legal issues arise when these changes are not accounted for in your legal documents. For example, if you were to disinherit a child but not change your Last Will and Testament to reflect this – well, that child won’t technically be disinherited. You can also flip that around and have a situation where you and your child have reconnected after a falling out, but if you never added that child back into your estate plan, they may not receive that inheritance you decided to give them after all. Divorce and marriage can also wreak havoc on out-of-date estate plans, so it is important that you speak to an estate planning attorney after any major life events.
If you have questions about creating an estate plan or you would like to speak with one of our attorneys about reviewing your existing plan to ensure it still meets your needs, please contact us at 770-425-6060 to set up Georgia Family Treasures Discovery Session.
If you are providing care to your parent, you are probably doing it without being asked and without compensation. It probably isn’t on your mind at all. But, I can tell you as a Marietta elder law attorney, it should be.
As a society, we value our elders and provide the care they need without being asked, just as they did for us. In most cases, the last thing on a caregiver’s mind is being compensated for their time. We value your commitment, but you should know that getting compensation for helping them might actually benefit everyone in the long-run. This is because paying you may help them become eligible for Medicaid – and once eligible they can get the professional care they need.
Medicaid is an income-based benefit. If you have too many assets (money or property) you would not be eligible. To become eligible, you must “spend down” assets to a certain level. Paying you, as the caregiver, is a perfectly legal way to do that. However, it is best to set up a caregiver contract to keep the terms of the agreement clear.
The caregiver contract should be carefully drafted so that there is no confusion about whether your parent simply gave you the money. (Medicaid will look back 5 years to see if the recipient gave away money to become eligible – a BIG no, no!) However, if the money is earned in exchange for providing caregiver services, then it is acceptable.
Please consider these points when creating a caregiver contract:
- Contact an experienced elder law attorney in Marietta GA to ensure that the compensation will count toward the spending down of their assets.
- Include a detailed list of the caregiver’s responsibilities including transportation, laundry, cleaning, etc.
- Make sure the compensation is in line with what professional caregivers charge.
- The caregiver must report the compensation as income earned on their taxes.
If you are caring for a parent – especially if that parent is likely to need long-term nursing home care – call our Marietta elder law attorneys at 770-425-6060 right away for a free Georgia Family Treasures Elder Planning Session.
You are pregnant! Congratulations! Your world is about to become brighter and sweeter than you ever imagined. I know that you are in the process of learning a lot of new things. So, as your neighborhood Marietta guardianship lawyer, I’m hoping that in between the baby showers and reading “What to Expect,” you spend a couple of minutes reading this.
You know that you are responsible for raising your child from newborn until, well, forever. You probably have things pretty well mapped out in your mind already. But, I’m going to ask you to think about something you probably haven’t yet…
What would happen to your child if you weren’t there to raise him or her?
I know that is no fun to think about. But this little human is solely relying on you to make sure they are able to navigate life – whether you are there or not. Don’t worry – the statistics are in your favor. Chances are you will never have to execute your plan, but you do need to decide who will raise your child if you can’t and then legally document this choice.
Here are a few things all new parents will need to consider when creating an estate plan:
- Guardians for your child. Selecting guardians for your children is the most important aspect of estate planning for new parents. By selecting a guardian, you ensure that your child will be raised by the person YOU choose and not a court-appointed guardian. You can also avoid potential legal battles among family members for guardianship.
- Put your child’s inheritance in trust. Leaving your estate ooutright to a child is never a good idea. Most teenagers and young adults are not financially responsible enough to be entrusted with a large sum of money. By creating a trust, you can ensure that your child will inherit your estate when they reach maturity.
- Trustees of your child’s inheritance. You will need to select someone to manage your estate while your child is still a minor. Some people select the guardian for this role, but you can select a separate trustee who will work with the guardian to make sure they have access to the funds they need for your child.
As a parent, you will do everything to protect your children. By creating an estate plan now, you can ensure that they will be safe in case you are no longer there. For more information about how estate planning can protect your new bundle of joy, contact our Marietta guardianship lawyers at 770-425-6060.
Seniors face complex legal concerns that are often different from what they faced when they were younger. Actions taken may have unintended legal effects. As a senior or someone who’s helping make decisions for a senior, it’s important that you work with an attorney who is an expert in Elder Law.
What Is Elder Law?
Elder Law encompasses many different fields of law. An Elder Law attorney specializes in how to best use their knowledge to fit the needs of seniors. Some of these fields include:
- Preservation/transfer of assets seeking to avoid spousal impoverishment when a spouse enters a nursing home
- Medicare claims and appeals
- Social security and disability claims and appeals
- Supplemental and long-term health insurance issues
- Disability planning, including use of durable powers of attorney, living trusts,”living wills,” for financial management and health care decisions, and other means of delegating management and decision-making to another in case of incompetency or incapacity
- Conservatorships and guardianships
- Estate planning, including planning for the management of one’s estate during life and its disposition on death through the use of trusts, wills, and other planning documents
- Administration and management of trusts and estates
- Long-term care placements in nursing home and life care communities
- Nursing home issues including questions of patients’ rights and nursing home quality
- Elder abuse and fraud recovery cases
- Housing issues, including discrimination and home equity conversions
- Age discrimination in employment
- Retirement, including public and private retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and pension benefits
- Health law
- Mental health law
Most Elder Law attorneys do not specialize in every one of these areas, so when an attorney says he or she practices Elder Law, find out which of these matters he or she handles. You will want to hire the attorney who regularly handles matters in the area of concern in your particular case and who will know enough about the other fields to question whether the action being taken might be affected by laws in any of the other areas of law. For example, if you are going to rewrite your will and your spouse is ill, the estate planner needs to know enough about Medicaid to know whether it is an issue with regard to your spouse’s inheritance.
Why Hire an Elder Law Attorney?
Rather than being defined by technical legal distinctions, Elder Law is defined by the client to be served.
An Elder Law attorney:
- Focuses his or her practice on the legal needs of seniors.
- Works with a variety of legal tools and techniques that specifically meet the goals and objectives of the older client.
- Uses a holistic approach to legal advice, taking into consideration the key issues facing seniors: housing, financial well-being, health and long-term care, and autonomy/quality of life.
- Brings to his or her practice a knowledge of the issues facing seniors that allows them and their staff to ignore the myths relating to aging and the competence of seniors.
- Will take into account and empathize with some of the physical and mental difficulties that often accompany the aging process. Their understanding of the real- life problems of people as they age allows them to determine more easily the difference between the physical versus the mental disability of a client.
- Is tied into a formal or informal system of social workers, psychologists, and other elder care professionals who may be of assistance to you.
How to Find an Elder Law Attorney
Members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA) are attorneys who are experienced and trained in working with the legal problems of aging Americans and individuals of all ages with disabilities. Established in 1987, NAELA is a non-profit association that assists lawyers, bar organizations and others. The mission of NAELA is to establish NAELA members as the premier providers of legal advocacy, guidance and services to enhance the lives of people with special needs and people as they age. NAELA currently has members across the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit NAELA.org.
The clients served by Elder Law attorneys can be among society’s most vulnerable people, often seeking help when they are most in need of wise counsel and advice.
Because of this, NAELA members believe that Elder Law attorneys should aspire to a higher level of professional practice standards and so they developed Aspirational Standards to define them. Every member pledges to uphold the Aspirational Standards as a requirement of membership.
Hiring an Elder Law attorney will give you peace of mind that the legal advice you seek will come from an expert in the legal needs of people as they age.