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New to Georgia? Talk to Your Marietta Will and Trust Lawyer About Your Estate Plan.

New to Georgia? Talk to Your Marietta Will and Trust Lawyer About Your Estate Plan.

Will and Trust lawyers in Marietta have the important job of helping their clients create a legacy that is compliant with a number of different laws. For the most part, these laws will vary from state to state.  Some differences are minor, while others can impact an estate plan significantly.  Someone who already has established a will, trust, or other legal documents in one state should probably review their documents with a qualified attorney before relocating to another.

For example, if you created a trust in Georgia but then move to Florida for retirement, you will want to talk to a local Florida attorney to ensure that your wishes would still be honored and your new property protected under Florida state laws.  If you don’t know a lawyer in your new state, ask your current attorney if he or she can help make a referral.

If you are not moving away for good but still plan to buy property out of state, perhaps to live as a “snowbird” for half the year, you still need to notify your lawyer and ensure you have plans that work under each state’s laws. Otherwise, you could wind up in a situation where your estate goes through two separate probates, and your family is forced to fly all over the country to handle your end-of-life affairs.

There are some additional estate planning documents that should always be addressed with an estate planning lawyer when moving to a new state.  Powers of attorney are vital for determining who can represent you should you become incapacitated, and those are administered under state law.  Powers of attorney drawn up by a will and trust lawyer in Marietta may be disregarded by the courts in another area of the country so again, talk to your lawyer to ensure your documents will remain in compliance.

A final consideration in the discussion of where to establish a trust is the tax implications. By working with a qualified Marietta will and trust lawyer, you can uncover which state may hold the highest benefits for you, your estate, and your heirs for tax purposes.  It is possible to have trusts set up in more than one state, though the complexities of doing so are absolutely something that should be done with the guidance of a knowledgeable professional with plenty of experience in trusts administration.

Because estate planning documents take time to put in place, talk to your lawyer well before the date that you plan to leave the state for good. That will ensure that your documents will work as you intend them to, no matter where you are in the United States! For help getting started, contact our Marietta will and trust lawyers at 770-425-6060 to schedule a consultation.





The Dangers of Denial – Why You Need to Plan for Long-Term Care for Your Parents

The Dangers of Denial – Why You Need to Plan for Long-Term Care for Your Parents

Longer lives are among the greatest achievements of our modern era. Advances in healthcare and other progress related to human safety have resulted in what the United Nations says is one of the most significant social transformations of the 21st century.

However, with the success of longer lives come problems that catch most of us off-guard. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 70% of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives. Few families are in the position of being able to step-up and take over the care of their elderly loved ones, so they must seek outside help.

Unfortunately, many wait until their loved one is in full-blown crisis to seek long-term care assistance. Making decisions in this way can be fraught with emotion and very expensive. That is why we highly recommend that our clients not wait until their parents are in dire need to begin the long-term care planning process. If you are struggling with finding and paying for the right long-term care option for your parent in Marietta, Georgia, here are some things you need to consider.

Appropriate Level of Care

Long-term care encompasses many different levels of care, so it’s important to match up the facility with the individual needs of your parent. Different types of facilities include skilled nursing facilities, custodial care facilities, and intermediate care facilities. While it’s not always possible to plan ahead for nursing home care, it is a good idea to become familiar with some of the long-term care facilities in your area and select the ones that you and your parent would prefer. When the time comes for long-term care, a Marietta GA elder law attorney can assist you in determining the level of care required for your parent and work with the long-term care facility of your choice.

Paying for Long-term Care

You will also need to think about how to pay for your parent’s long-term care. Facilities can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per month, depending on the level of care required. Long-term care insurance policies may help defray some of these costs, but very rarely do those policies cover the entire amount needed. Special benefits are available to veterans through the VA, and Medicare may help pay for a very limited amount of time in a nursing home based on the illness/injury. Medicaid is the most common option to help pay for long-term care, but there are strict eligibility requirements attached to that assistance, and it is very easy to become disqualified from that care if your parent exceeds asset or income limits without the proper planning in place. It is important to speak with a Marietta elder law attorney to review your available options and determine the best course of action to pay for your parent’s long-term care.

Planning ahead for long-term care can make a world of difference in your life and contribute to the comfort of your parent when the time comes. If you would like to start this conversation with a Marietta elder law attorney who has extensive experience helping people find the best long-term care solutions, call our office at 770-425-6060 and schedule a consultation.

Marietta Estate and Elder Lawyer: Can Someone with Signs of Dementia Sign Legal Documents?

Marietta Estate and Elder Lawyer: Can Someone with Signs of Dementia Sign Legal Documents?

Millions of individuals are affected by dementia in their lifetime. Unfortunately, it is usually after a medical crisis like dementia hits that many families begin to think about estate planning, and talking to their Marietta Estate and Elder Lawyer.

What people don’t realize, however, is that it may be “too late” under the law to make a plan after dementia strikes.  This is usually the case when dementia is in an advanced state. In order for legal documents to be valid in Georgia, the person signing them must have “testamentary capacity.” This means that he or she must fully understand the implications of what is being signed.

Does that mean that your loved one can no longer sign legal documents after a diagnosis of dementia? Not necessarily.  Dementia is a progressive condition, and mental capacity can be fluid in earlier stages.  Your loved one may still be considered mentally competent to sign legal documents, even with a diagnosis of dementia if he or she:

  • Can understand the nature and extent of their property
  • Can remember their relatives and descendants
  • Is able to articulate who should inherit their property
  • Can understand what they are signing
  • Can understand how all these things relate and come together to form a plan

In some instances, a verification from a physician about the individual’s competence may be required and the ability of whether a person with dementia can sign legal documents will rest in the doctor’s hands.

If the physician determines that your loved one cannot execute legal documents, the family must then turn to the court system, and likely the process of Guardianship and/or Conservatorship, in order to take over control of the senior’s affairs in the absence of a current Trust, Power of Attorney, or Health Care Directive. 

Whether your loved one can sign legal documents following a diagnosis of dementia really depends on his or her individual battle with the disease.  Talk to a Marietta estate and elder lawyer, as well as your loved one’s doctor for an idea of what your options may be.  Be sure to go through all the proper channels as your loved one’s legal documents could be contested later on if you have them quickly signed while there is still a question of mental capacity out there.

If you need assistance getting started and evaluating your loved one’s situation, we invite you to contact our Marietta GA estate and elder law attorneys at 770-425-6060 to schedule a consultation.




Understanding The Process to Obtain a Conservatorship in Cobb County

Understanding The Process to Obtain a Conservatorship in Cobb County

Even with the best intentions, most senior citizens don’t plan for a future in which they may be incapacitated. Perhaps they didn’t want to face the prospect of losing autonomy, or perhaps they fell ill before they had a chance to plan. Either way, for those with elder relatives and loved ones who no longer appear able to make sound financial decisions, petitioning for an adult conservatorship in Cobb County may be a viable option.

Even if an adult doesn’t appear to be capable, they won’t automatically lose their freedom to handle their own affairs unless the matter comes before a judge in a court of law. Fortunately, you can bring the matter in front of a judge yourself if you believe that your loved one would be better off with you handling things.  Here are some steps you will likely need to take if you decide this is the right path for you and/or your loved one:

  1. Gather information on finances, health, and family. 

Courts prefer to grant conservatorships to close relatives. If you’re a family member, it may be easier to get a conservatorship but it is by no means a guarantee. You’ll also have to show the court what finances need to be managed and why.  To do this, you’ll need both financial documentation and a recent (within 15 days of the filing of the petition, see next paragraph) doctor’s report to show that the elderly person (or ward) isn’t competent to handle their own affairs. 

  1. Petition the court and let other relatives know.

This is a trickier process, and a Marietta elder law attorney can help you. You’ll have to petition the court and send notice to the elder person’s relatives. They may contest your bid for a conservatorship, either by simply contesting it or by wishing to be made conservator instead. The court will appoint a lawyer to represent the proposed ward and order an independent medical exam to confirm the doctor’s report filed with the petition.

  1. Go to the initial court hearing. 

Whether your petition is contested or uncontested, you must go to the first initial court hearing. At this time, you will present evidence to support your claim that a conservatorship is needed. If the court agrees that one is in your elder relative’s best interest, you will be appointed as conservators.

It’s important to remember that when petitioning for a conservatorship, the judge and the court-appointed attorney aren’t your lawyers. Retaining your own Marietta elder law attorney to assist you in the process will ensure that you do what the court expects and that the petition process goes as smoothly as possible.

If you would like more information on how our Marietta elder attorneys can help support you through the conservatorship process and navigate any additional elder law and long-term care issues that you may face, contact our Marietta law firm at 770-425-6060 to schedule a consultation.

Marietta Guardianship Lawyer: Pros and Cons of Guardianships for Young Adults with Special Needs

Marietta Guardianship Lawyer: Pros and Cons of Guardianships for Young Adults with Special Needs

When a child with special needs turns 18, parents must begin to think about sensitive issues such as long-term care planning and how to legally stay in control.  Adult guardianship is one such vehicle that allows parents to have legal and financial authority over their children when their parental rights would otherwise be terminated.

Hiring a Marietta Guardianship Lawyer to petition to become a guardian is a lengthy legal process, but it may be appealing to parents still caring for young adults with disabilities who aren’t ready to be independent. Before beginning a petition for legal guardianship in Georgia,  consider the following first:

Your child loses a great deal of freedom.

If you gain guardianship, your child loses the freedoms he or she would have as an adult. The child will lose the right to handle his or her own finances, make healthcare decisions, choose residency, or make any other decision that the court has given the guardian power to decide. For young adults that are high-functioning and could possibly lead an independent life, this loss of freedom is a very real concern that families must consider.

You have a great deal of responsibility.

Your responsibility may be an extension of the things you did for your child when he or she was young. As a guardian, you have a responsibility to care for whatever the court has entrusted to you, and failing to do so could bring legal consequences. If you’re responsible for your adult child’s finances and you mishandle them or use his or her SSI fraudulently, you may not only lose guardianship but be liable for civil damages or be criminally charged.

Your rights could be limited.  

Unlike guardianship of a minor child, guardians only gain authority over the things the courts give them authority over, and nothing the petitioner doesn’t ask for. Therefore, if a parent only has medical guardianship, for example, and not financial guardianship, that parent cannot make financial decisions on the child’s behalf.

Likewise, your guardianship doesn’t allow you to keep your child from engaging in adult behaviors you would prefer they didn’t. They’re free to do whatever they’re otherwise entitled by law, like drinking, smoking, dating, or having sex.

Your guardianship isn’t transferable and ends with you.

Guardianship either ends when you die or when the court ends it. You can’t pass on guardianship of your child with special needs to a spouse or to a surviving adult child. They can petition the court and go through the same guardianship process – and expense. The court grants guardianship to someone both by how much the ward needs a guardian and by how fit the petitioner is.  Anyone who wants to be guardian after you must go through the same process that you did.

Are there alternatives? 

There are alternatives to guardianship. One is to create a special needs trust to handle financial affairs. The trustee will use the trust to pay for the child’s expenses. If your child is high-functioning and can sign legal documents, he or she can also name the parent as Healthcare Agent and Power of Attorney so the parent can help the child make decisions without the child losing their rights. Many of these alternatives depend on the physical and mental needs of the child and must be evaluated carefully by your legal and medical team.

Getting Help

If you would like guidance on how to pursue a guardianship or a guardianship alternative for your young adult with special needs, contact our Marietta GA Guardianship lawyers at 770-425-6060 to schedule a consultation.