Do single people need a will or trust attorney? Yes!
Really, “yes” is the only answer that’s really needed, but we’ll go ahead and create a whole blog post to offer some insight as to why estate planning is important for singles and not just for families.
One of the most important reasons for a single person to work with a will and trust attorney in Canton GA is best understood when you think about the consequences of not planning. Should you have a medical emergency or pass away, what becomes of you and your estate will be entirely up to the state of Georgia. This means that if you are unable to communicate your wishes, the state will step in and impose its own plan on your body and your assets.
Imagine that for a moment. If you were to have a medical emergency and be unable to speak up, who would be able to tell the doctors what you would want? Hopefully, that person would be one of your parents or siblings, because it’s pretty likely that they are who the courts would appoint on your behalf. If the best choice would really be a good friend, other family member, or possibly a significant other to whom you’re not legally married, the courts won’t care. They will stick to the predetermined law, and that law will look at bloodline relatives first.
This is also the case with your finances. If you are unable to take care of your own finances for any reason, the courts will likely appoint the closest blood relative to step in. It doesn’t matter if you don’t want your family in your private financial affairs or not. They will have access to your money and will be put in charge of managing it, paying your bills, etc. Think about how your oldest sibling manages his or her money. Would you be comfortable with that person being in responsible for yours?
Along the same lines, should you pass away without an estate plan, your assets will automatically go through the Cherokee County probate process. Again, the courts will step in and determine who is to inherit your property and money; and you will have absolutely no say in the matter. How excited would you be for Mom and Dad to inherit your laptop or for your siblings to be given the jewelry which, by all accounts, should go to your best friend?
None of these scenarios is even a little bit exaggerated. This is exactly what happens when a single person in Canton GA chooses not to work with an estate planning attorney. Remember, it’s not just about having a lot of assets to leave behind; it’s about making your own decisions regarding your medical care, your possessions, and your finances. Having a small estate now simply means that the planning process will be less complicated! Call us at 770-425-6060 to get started!
While married couples are most obviously in need of the services of an estate planning lawyer in Atlanta, unmarried couples may actually need it more. It’s a pretty well known fact that when a married spouse passes away, the other will likely inherit a considerable portion of the estate, simply by virtue of the legal marriage.
But, what about folks who are cohabitating but not legally married? The situation for them can become much more dire should one partner pass away without a solid estate plan in place. For example, even if the couple lives together in a home, if one partner dies, the other may have no legal right to the property—even if he or she helped pay for it! It is unfortunate, but estate planning lawyers in Atlanta have seen far too many situations where adult children have kicked their deceased parents’ partner out of a home so it could be sold for the proceeds.
In order to avoid this kind of drama, an Atlanta estate planning lawyer may recommend that assets be titled in both partner’s names, with both listed as joint tenants with rights of survivorship. There are potential tax implications to taking this step, so check with your attorney to weigh your options. It is also possible for the couple to set up a situation where a surviving partner is allowed to continue to reside in a home until his or her death, having the property then pass on to the original parter’s children.
As an illustration, pretend that Joe was married to Louise, and they had three kids together. Louise passed away, and sometime later, Joe fell in love and moved in with Kelly. Unfortunately, Joe’s now-adult children don’t approve of Joe’s relationship with Kelly. If the couple doesn’t create a legally-binding plan with an estate planning lawyer, Joe’s kids could kick Kelly out of the house upon Joe’s death.
We’ll take this a step further and say that even though they’re not supportive of Joe’s choice, he still loves his children and wants to make sure they eventually inherit the house to pay for their children’s education or whatever. But, he also wants to make sure that they cannot remove Kelly from the house out of spite or greed. Joe and Kelly could put together a plan of action with their Atlanta estate planning lawyer to stipulate that Kelly has the right to live in the house until death, and then it would become the property of Joe’s children.
This is just one scenario in which an unmarried couple would want to consider getting legal advice. Meeting with an Atlanta estate planning lawyer is a good way to find out if there are concerns that you aren’t even aware you should have based on the fact that you and your partner are not legally married.
As we age, it is likely that many of us will need help for at least some period of time with life’s daily activities. (These include bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom.) And while we may not want to think much about being in that position some day, it would be a good idea to start thinking now about who will take care of us in our old age.
According to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about half of all informal caregiving is provided by adult children, with spouses providing another 20%. In addition to helping with daily activities, these informal caregivers navigate health care options and insurance benefits, manage medications, provide transportation to doctor appointments, and manage finances. Even when people go into nursing homes or assisted living facilities, their children or spouse still provide a lot of hands-on care.
But what if you don’t have a spouse or child who will be able to take care of you? Your children may live too far away, have health issues of their own, or have family and/or work obligations. Maybe your child or spouse predeceases you. Maybe you didn’t have children. According to a study by Urban.org, nearly one-fifth of women born after 1970 will not have any children.
You may find you need to rely on a sibling, niece or nephew, distant relative, friends or paid helpers. Assisted living facilities are an option for many people. Nursing homes are often regarded as the place of last resort, but people without caregivers are more likely to enter them.
Most of these options can be expensive, depending on the type of care you will need and how long you will need it. For example, the national average cost for a home health aide is $45,760 per year; for assisted living, it’s $43,200 per year; and for a semi-private room in a nursing home, it’s $80,300 per year. (Genworth has researched these costs in each state.) So, in addition to determining who will provide your care, you also need to consider how you will pay for it.
Medicare does not pay for assisted living and only pays for a limited number of days in a nursing home. Aid & Attendance benefits from the Veterans Administration will help pay these costs for wartime veterans and their spouses who qualify. Medicaid will pay for nursing home care, but you have to spend down your assets in order to qualify. Long-term care insurance is an option, but if you wait too long it may not be affordable and you may not qualify. If you have substantial savings and/or have equity in your home, those resources can be used to pay for your care.
The point is this: It is never too late to start thinking about who will care for you in your old age, in what setting you want to receive that care, and how you will pay for it. Don’t assume your first choice is willing to provide hands-on care for you. Have that conversation with your candidates to make sure they are on board with your wishes. If not, you’ll need to come up with Plan B or Plan C. Without a plan, you could end up having no say in your end-of-life care.
A good Atlanta estate planning attorney is going to help you take a lot of things into consideration when putting together your plan. Various factors influence your estate planning after all: finances, children, age…But what about your gender? Is estate planning for women different from that for men?
Actually, there are some important things to keep in mind.
A Spouse’s Will Is Not Enough
Atlanta estate planning attorneys see again and again where a married couple believes that only one of them—usually a husband—needs to have a will. This can cause a lot of problems in the long run, however.
- Your family may not know your wishes, even if you think they do.
- In times of grief, people aren’t always at their best and could resort to fighting over the estate.
- If your spouse remarries, the new wife (and her children) could legally inherit your things.
These are just some of the scenarios estate planning attorneys see playing out when one partner is relying on the other’s will.
Women Need Powers of Attorney
Various types of powers of attorney are an important part of an estate plan, and this can be especially true for women. The average woman’s lifespan is longer than a man’s, which means that she may be on her own near the end of her life. With no spouse to make medical and financial decisions should she become incapacitated, it’s even more important to make sure appropriate appointees have been legally declared.
Updates are Needed When Marriage Status Changes
When one spouse has passed away, it is always a good idea to review the surviving spouse’s estate plan. There are likely some changes that need to be made based on changes in income and other living circumstances. A knowledgeable estate planning attorney in Atlanta will be able to help redefine the goals you and your spouse set in order to ensure you stay on track.
It’s also very important to meet with an estate planning lawyer after a divorce. The details of the divorce can strongly impact your financial future, and the attorney will work to make sure you know and have access to what is rightfully yours. Additionally, if you already have a will, you will want to change it to avoid the possibility of your ex being entitled to your estate or assets.
A Trust May Be a Good Choice
A mother wants to provide for her child in every way possible, and while trusts are something that are often associated with rich people, they are a great tool for just about anyone with heirs. Talk with an estate planning attorney about why and how to go about creating a trust to help fund your children or grandchildren’s future should you not be around to help them.
There are plenty of other considerations that apply specifically to estate planning for women, and the best way to get all the information you need is to get together with a qualified, experienced attorney in Atlanta. To schedule an appointment for a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session at one of our metro Atlanta offices, we invite you to call 770-425-6060 to get started.
If you’d like to give your loved ones and yourself the gift of peace of mind, please call Steve at 770-425-6060 or email him at email@example.com.
Marietta GA Estate Planning Lawyer suggests the Ultimate Gift of Love for your family : an up-to-date estate plan!
With budgets tight and uncertainty in the air, this Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to give your loved one a priceless gift that never grows old — financial security.
Sure, you can’t stuff it in a box or wrap it with a pretty bow, but taking the time to get your financial and legal affairs in order this month is the ultimate way to show your loved ones just how much you care now, and for the future.
Think about what would happen if you were disabled, incapacitated or passed away suddenly this year. That expensive night out you spent with your “special someone” won’t do much to ensure he or she will continue to thrive in your absence. A less exciting, but meaningful gift of life insurance, for example, would have been a better expression of your love during hard times.
And, when is the last time you updated your will or trust? Are you certain that your wishes would be honored and your loved ones would be taken care of exactly as you want in an emergency? This includes minor children who, without legal guardians named for them by mom and dad, will be at the mercy of the courts.
Legal and financial planning is the ultimate way to demonstrate your love for your family where it counts the most. Make a commitment to not put it off any longer and use this Valentine’s Day to give your loved ones the long-term financial security and peace of mind they deserve.
Steve Worrall is the Family Estate Planning Lawyer for Georgia Estate Plan: Worrall Law LLC in Marietta and Atlanta. If you’d like to give your loved ones and yourself the gift of peace of mind, please call Steve at 770-425-6060 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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