A Complete Guide to Estate Planning

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The Law Office of Paul Black offers a complete guide to estate planning to help clients make decisions. Estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy. Call now!

Author: Paul Black

Paul’s experience as the son of two parents with big health challenges is what led him to the work he does today and gives him first-hand knowledge of the challenges that many caregivers and family members face. After graduation from GSU Law, Paul was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide as one of three 2010-2011 Borchard Foundation Law & Aging Fellows. Paul has been named as  a SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Estate Planning and as a member of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Published on: May 23, 2019. Last updated on: July 13, 2019.

Why You Should Consider Estate Planning

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If you’re wondering what would become of your assets when you’re no longer around, or you wish to ensure the well-being of your children and loved ones. In that case, you may consider setting up an estate plan.

Estate planning involves making arrangements or giving clear directions on how you want your affairs to be handled in cases of death or incapacity.

With estate planning, you can arrange for the inheritance of your assets, including real estate, personal property (like cars or artwork), retirement accounts, bank accounts, business interests, and other property. 

You may think, “I do not own such assets or anything worth leaving to anyone.” The good news is that anybody can have an estate plan. You do not need to own assets to have an estate plan.

If you’re facing a serious illness, an estate plan could also help you appoint a trusted third party to make difficult healthcare decisions while you’re unable to do so. 

With estate planning, you can be at ease knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to secure the future of your children or loved ones and protect your assets.

Who Needs Estate Planning?

Estate planning is important for everyone—whether you’re married or single, have kids or are childfree, whether you have money or not. Ensure to plan for the future so that your loved ones will be cared for in case something happens to you.

This process is important because you can specify in your estate plan precisely what you want to be done with your property, who gets to keep what and when, and how. 

Estate planning protects your family members from future lawsuits or other disputes by ensuring they have valid legal ownership over any assets they inherit.

When to Start Estate Planning

The ideal time to plan your estate is as soon as possible. You do not have to wait till you acquire lots of assets or till you have kids. 

You could start by considering what could happen if you fall ill and who you’d want to make the critical health decisions on your behalf. You could also consider having a retirement plan or planning the future of your pets.

The point is that the right time to plan your estate is now. If you’re unsure where to start, a Georgia estate planning lawyer can guide you and help you get started. If you’re outside Georgia, you can search for ‘estate planning attorney near me‘ on google and choose a reputable attorney from the options provided.

Estate Planning Law

Other Estate Planning Mistakes

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Estate planning law refers to the body of laws that regulate the estate planning process.

In Georgia, you can find the primary law for estate planning in Title 53 of the Georgia Code -Wills, Trusts, and Administration of Estates. The law provides for the form and content of estate planning documents such as wills and trusts and sets rules for their validity.

If you’re going to prepare any estate planning document, it is vital to ensure they are valid under the law. Otherwise, your efforts may have been in vain.

To avoid any mistakes, you might want to engage the services of an estate planning attorney to prepare your documents. Your attorney understands the requirements of the law and can ensure that your estate planning complies with them.

Estate Planning Options

Estate planning options are the ways that you can prepare for your estate after you’re gone. 

The type of estate planning options you choose depends on several factors, including your life circumstances, the state in which you live, and the amount of money you have to bequeath.

As part of your estate planning process, you could do any of the following;

Write a Will

A will is a legal document/instrument that dictates how the testator’s property will be distributed after death. A testator is the owner of the estate. 

You can make beneficiary designations through a will and appoint a guardian for your minor children. 

There are several types of will, but all of them follow the same format in which the property owner dictates how assets should be distributed in a legal document. These include:

  • A simple will: This is the most common type of will. It is written to pass over properties to your beneficiaries when you die.

  • A joint will: Here two people commit to leaving a specific property in the will of each other. It combines the wishes of two parties into one document and cannot be altered without one partner’s consent. When one party dies, the surviving one inherits all the property in the will.

  • A living will: Living wills are also known as advance directives. It spells out the testator’s preferred medical treatments and procedures.

A will makes obtaining probate easier, but it doesn’t avoid probate. If you wish to write a will, or you’d like to avoid probate totally, you can consult an experienced probate lawyer or estate planning attorney for help.

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Own Assets Jointly 

Joint ownership of assets is an effective legal arrangement to plan your estate since jointly owned assets don’t pass through the probate process. 

So even if one owner dies, the surviving person can utilize the assets without working through probate court procedures, estate planning attorneys, or other legal issues. 

Establish a Living Trust

A living trust is similar to a will, except that it allows you to retain control of the trust property without owning it. 

To avoid the lengthy probate process, and perhaps federal estate taxes, you can put any asset into a revocable living trust, including your land and bank account.

Make a Power of Attorney

By power of attorney, you can appoint someone to act for you for any legal purpose. The terms of engagement are usually contained in the empowering document. 

Depending on its purpose, a power of attorney could be revocable or irrevocable. Your attorney can help you determine which is appropriate for you.

Cost of Estate Planning in Georgia

The amount of money you’ll spend while planning your estate is not fixed. It depends on several factors, including the complexity of your situation, the size of your estate, your chosen estate planner, your location, and your preferred estate planning option.

If you’d like to ascertain the cost of planning your estate, you may consult an elder law professional in Georgia and book a consultation.

Your Estate Planning Checklist

If you’re about to make your estate plan or you have started the process already, there are some essential things to consider, including the following:

  • Calculating the up-to-date value of your assets

  • Deciding on who your beneficiaries are

  • Deciding on a guardian for your minor children

  • Choosing an executor for your will.

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Common Estate Planning Mistakes

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Some common mistakes often made while making estate plans include the following:

  • Not taking account of known assets and profits of the individual

  • Not taking into account the lifespan of an asset 

  • Failing to comply with the legal requirements for a valid estate planning instrument such as a will or trust

  • Giving away estate assets without proper documentation.

You could consult an estate planning attorney near you to avoid making such mistakes that could render your efforts invalid.

Get Estate Planning Help from The Law Office of Paul Black

If you’d like to know more about estate planning or you would like to initiate the legal process, contact The Law Office of Paul Black to get professional assistance.

Attorney Paul Black is a seasoned estate planning attorney and can help you with all your estate planning needs. You can reach him on 4044106820.

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