Roswell Law Blog

Reasons for single parents to make an estate plan

Many adults fail to make an estate plan, but it can be especially important for single parents in Georgia and around the country to do so. One of the functions of an estate plan for parents is to appoint someone to be guardian for their children. While this could be the other parent, if that parent is unable to step into this role for any reason, appointing a guardian can ensure that the child is raised by someone a parent chooses.

An estate plan is also an opportunity for a parent to leave instructions about how the child should be raised. While not all of these instructions may be legally enforceable, it still lets loved ones know what the parent's wishes are. The parent may want to create a trust that can receive the parent's assets. The child may have varying degrees of control over the trust depending on the parent's wishes. For example, a parent may only want the money to go toward education and similar pursuits. On the other hand, parents may leave this largely at the discretion of the trustee.

Choosing beneficiaries for IRAs

Making sure that they have named the right beneficiaries for their IRA is one of the many aspects of estate planning of which Georgia residents should be aware. Not designating someone or not updating the beneficiary designation when needed can result in significant expenses as well as frustration for surviving loved ones. To determine who should be designated, it is important for individuals to carefully consider certain factors.

One issue that has to be addressed is whether the IRA funds are to stay in the family. In situations in which individuals have no family or any desire to leave their IRA to their family, a favorite charity can be chosen as the beneficiary. However, many people tend to want to leave their IRA to family members.

Why a person should seek help with estate planning

Creating an estate plan online can be an effective way for Georgia residents and others to save money. However, it can also cause problems that may be avoided by creating estate plan documents with the help of a professional. For the most part, online services assume that an individual already knows what he or she wants a plan to look like. In many cases, a person doesn't know if this is true or not.

This is because individuals may not take the time to consider how family dynamics come into play when creating an estate plan. Furthermore, most people don't necessarily know how state law could influence their decision to create a trust or how the trust will be structured. In many cases, the only way to know if an estate plan meets a person's needs is to speak with a professional.

An incentive trust helps guide heirs toward success

One of the big fears that you have with your estate planning is that leaving money to your heirs is going to rob them of the motivation they need to find success in life.

You're very well off, after all, thanks to a lifetime of hard work and smart financial decisions. You're going to leave enough money to your grandchildren that they could live off of it for the rest of their lives.

Estate plans and passwords

When Georgia residents begin the estate planning process, they often focus on wills, trusts and end-of-life medical planning. One area that might be overlooked is password access for electronic devices and online accounts. Not having these passwords can make the process very difficult for loved ones and estate executors.

Many people manage their personal and business finances online. Banks and investment brokerages offer online account access, and consumers often rely on online services to pay their utility, mortgage and other bills. In addition, people often keep in touch via email and social media messaging. When someone dies, those who are charged with managing and closing the deceased's estate may need access to these accounts.

When an estate plan needs updating

Estate planning is not a favorite subject for most people, and it can take a while for residents in Georgia and other states to get their affairs in order. Once an estate plan is finally completed, many people think they never have to worry about the matter again. However, problems can arise as time passes, which makes revisiting a plan necessary. Here are some reasons updates may be needed.

If a person created an estate plan 10 or more years ago, many life changes could have occurred. A person listed as a beneficiary or executor could have died while new additions to the family like grandchildren may mean that new beneficiaries need to be added. Even if one's executor is still alive, this person may no longer be close to a grantor or could now be unfit for the position.

Family conflict is often a major concern for estate planning

A recent survey of attorneys, trust officers and wealth management professionals shed some light into the three largest obstacles in creating an estate plan. Some Georgia residents may be surprised that the most commonly cited threat to an estate plan is family concerns.

Market fluctuations is another top concern in the list provided by planning professionals. These obstacles may be expected for estate planners. After all, nearly every estate plan provides mechanisms for income and asset growth. However, experts say that many clients fail to make sure assets are available for retirement expenses.

How to change an irrevocable trust

An irrevocable trust is generally thought of as a trust to which changes cannot be made. While this offers greater protection to the assets in the trust, it also means that if circumstances change, a person may be stuck with a trust that is no longer useful. However, a number of states, including Georgia, offer a "decanting" option to change an irrevocable trust if necessary.

There are many reasons a person might want to do this. Parents who created an irrevocable trust for a child may believe that as an adult, that person is not responsible enough to manage distributions effectively. People may also decide they want to extend the term of a trust or change it to help a relative with special needs. If it is a support trust, they may want to change it to a discretionary trust with the added protection from creditors or during divorce that such a trust offers. Other reasons to change an irrevocable trust include making the trust more efficient or avoiding state income tax with a change to the governing law.

Top reasons people make the mistake of neglecting estate planning

Quick show of hands: Who will need an estate plan some day?

Obviously, anyone reading that sentence should raise their hand. Everyone will pass away eventually. Any assets they have, no matter how many or how few, need to get passed on to the next generation. Everyone's lives end this way, so no one can avoid it.

Necessary estate planning documents

One essential legal document for Georgia residents who are developing an estate plan is a living will. A living will can be enforced while an individual is still alive. Individuals can use it to detail their preferences regarding any medical treatment they should receive should they become incapacitated. They can specify what type of medical treatments should and should not be used to keep them alive. Individuals can also detail how long life support measures should be used.

The benefit of having a living will in place is that it can eliminate loved ones from having to make a decision about whether an incapacitated loved one's life should be continued. With a living will that explicitly states the wishes of an individual, it can prevent conflicts between family members who may have different opinions about using life support.

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Herman Law Firm, LLC
760 Old Roswell Rd., Suite 119
Roswell, GA 30076

Phone: 770-609-4468
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