In 2008, Congress declared the third week in October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. This week is to be used for estate planning attorneys to spread the word about their services and why it is so important to put together an estate plan. We think it’s equally important to let East Cobb seniors know the importance of planning with an East Cobb elder law attorney to address the possibility of needing long term care.
Here are a few common misconceptions people have about elder law plans:
- I’m too young for an elder law plan. WRONG!
The sooner you plan, the less likely you will lose your savings to the high costs of long term care. Tragedy can strike anyone at any time. It’s best to hope for the best but plan for the worst.
- Elder law plans are just for the rich. WRONG!
Very few of us can afford to pay thousands of dollars a month out of pocket for care. Working with an elder law attorney to put a comprehensive plan in place can save you and your loved ones not just tens of thousands of dollars, but it will lessen the emotional turmoil on your family.
- When I die, my kids will obviously just get everything. WRONG!
Probate court is no place any family wants to be after a loved one dies. Creating an elder law plan is the only sure method to stay out of the courts, avoid unnecessary court fees, and make sure that your specific wishes are carried out.
We encourage you to use this week to bust these planning myths. Call our East Cobb Elder Law Attorneys today at 770-425-6060 and schedule an appointment to learn about what an elder law attorney really does and how we can help you protect the things you care about and the people you love the most. Take the time and learn how every family, and yours especially, could benefit from our services in one way or another.
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.