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.
If one of your New Year’s resolutions this year includes getting your financial and legal affairs in order should something unexpectedly happen to you, I have a gift I think you’ll enjoy.
To be specific, I just put the finishing touches on a free report I wrote entitled, “What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt Your Family: 5 Easy Ways to Make Sure Your Children, Wishes and Assets Stay Protected Should Something Happen to You”.
In this report you’ll learn 5 easy ways to get your legal and financial affairs in order, just in time for the New Year. You won’t even need the help of an attorney for some of these important steps; simply follow my instructions in the guide and cross each item off of your “to-do” list as you go.
You’ll also discover:
- How to legally name guardians for your minor children in a way that will hold up in a court of law
- The difference between a will and a trust, and which tool you really need to make sure your family, wishes and assets stay protected upon your passing.
- The details about simple document you can use to give someone legal permission to act on your behalf if you were incapacitated in an accident but did not die (…and without this document, no one will be able to help you under the current HIPPA laws!)
- How to amass your “entire family wealth” and leave a true legacy to your children (hint: you don’t have to be wealthy and it’s easier than you think!)
- And so much more!
To grab a copy of this report, simply visit http://bit.ly/gNUxIJ.
I’d also like to encourage you to forward this to any of your family or friends who really need to get their affairs in order just in time for the New Year. I would especially encourage you to reach out to anyone who has minor children, owns their own home, cares for aging parents or is approaching retirement age themselves.
Again, you can get a copy of this free report now by going to http://bit.ly/dGpJM1.
All my best,
By Steve Worrall, Cobb County GA probate lawyer
If you are reading this Atlanta area probate and estate planning blog right now, chances are you concerned about what would happen to your assets, investments and total inheritance when you die. I am sure like most people, you want to leave an inheritance to your children in a way that’s safe, secure and free from the red-tape of probate.
Yet what most well-intentioned parents fail to understand is that it is the way their inheritance gets passed down to family members that can have detrimental and life-altering consequences—which are far worse than having money tied up in the Georgia probate courts.
For that reason, I want to share some of my knowledge as an Georgia probate lawyer and give you a brief overview of the 4 ways your inheritance can be passed down to your children and how you can ultimately protect your inheritance from impulse spending, divorce, bankruptcy or poor decision making with proper education and a bit of planning:
- Outright Distribution: An outright distribution is just that, mom and dad die and the children receive their inheritance outright, in one lump sum. Simple, clean, but dangerous. Statistics show that an inheritance will be gone within 18 months of a child receiving it. And it does not matter how old the child is or how much the inheritance. If a child gets divorced or goes bankrupt, the inheritance could be lost.
- Convenience Trust: With this arrangement, the inheritance is distributed to a trust, but the child can withdraw the trust assets at any time and for any reason, just by requesting it. There may be an independent trustee managing the trust, or the child may be their own trustee or co-trustee. Since no one can force the child to withdraw the income and principal from the trust, the convenience trust offers some creditor protection, and perhaps a mental barrier to withdrawing the trust’s assets, but not much else. This also can act as a separate property trust, so that the child's spouse cannot access the inheritance.
- Step-Distribution: This method is a more commonly used way of leaving money to your heirs. It’s also known as the “speed-bump” approach. With this type of distribution, the inheritance flows into a trust, usually with an independent trustee, which is managed and controlled for the child. At certain intervals in the child’s life, a portion of the trust’s principal is released in a lump sum to the child. For example, one third of the principal is paid to the child at age 30, one third at 35 and the remainder at 40. They still have access to income and principal for health, education and other guidelines you structure, but you can leave your children a powerful message with this type of trust – “don’t blow the inheritance!” The idea is that if they blow it the first time, they may not get any future distributions. This may act as an incentive to the child to manage their money well, but it still adds little asset protection, and once the principal is gone, it’s out of the bloodline and gone forever.
- Lifetime Trust: This type of trust holds and manages the child’s inheritance for the life of the child. An independent trustee is usually chosen to manage the trust and many times the child can serve as co-trustee. Principal and income may be distributed according to various guidelines and incentives that the parent provides in the trust document. These guidelines act as a spigot or faucet: adhere to the guidelines and philosophies of the trust and assets will flow; get into trouble and the trustee can turn the spigot off.
Once the child dies, any remaining assets in the trust can pass to the child’s heirs or other individuals or entities. The lifetime trust provides the most flexible vehicle for values-based legacy planning. It also provides the greatest degree of asset protection, including protections against divorce, bankruptcy and lawsuits such as malpractice or personal injury. This is by far the most popular choice of trust arrangements among my clients, as it provides the greatest amount of asset protection and guidance for beneficiaries throughout their lives.
So now that you have read the 4 most common ways to pass an inheritance on to family members, I encourage YOU today to get clear on how you would like your inheritance distributed when you die. Do you understand the potential consequences of turning your inheritance over to a child not ready for the responsibility? Are you concerned that your money or assets may one day be lost in a messy divorce or bankruptcy proceeding? Are you simply unsure of the best way to protect your money—and your children—when you die?
If so, I would like to extend the opportunity for you to schedule a Peace of Mind Planning Session ($750 value) at no-charge with our office. Here a Marietta GA probate lawyer will help you work through such hard questions and ultimately create a rock-solid plan for distributing your assets in a way that aligns with your core values, but also meets your children’s long-term financial needs.
However, we only have 8 such Sessions available each month, so call (770-425-6060) to immediately schedule an appointment with Marietta GA probate lawyer, Steve Worrall before they are all gone!