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PATTI'S BLOG

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

How Marriage or Divorce Affects Your Estate Plan

I just got back from a trip to the beach where there were back-to-back weddings near the ocean.  So many new brides and grooms!

Are you planning to get married or divorced in the near future?  How will that affect your estate plan?

An estate plan has lots of pieces and moving parts, but let’s start with how marriage and divorce affect the basic legal documents you should have in your estate plan.

WHAT HAPPENS TO MY OLD WILL?

If you marry after signing a will and you have not specifically stated in the document that you are executing the will in anticipation of a future marriage, that will signed previous to marriage will not be valid.  If you then die without executing a new will, you will die intestate and the rules of the state of Georgia will control distribution of your assets.  That means that if you have a wife and children, your new spouse will share the assets in your probate estate with your children.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Check Your Beneficiary Designation

For many of you, the bulk of the estate ("stuff") that you will be passing on to your loved ones is controlled not by your will, a trust or the probate court, but by the beneficiaries you designated on forms filed with financial institutions. 401(k)'s, IRAs, and Life Insurance policies will be distributed at your death based on whom you have chosen as a beneficiary.

Based on my conversations with clients, I'm betting that many of you have not checked those designations in a very long time - if ever.
What can happen if you name the wrong beneficiary or No beneficiary?
First, let's talk about what may happen if you name no beneficiary. If you do not name a beneficiary for a life insurance policy, after your death an estate will have to be opened to receive the money from that policy.
Read more . . .


Monday, October 3, 2022

What happens if you die without a will in Georgia?

If a person dies without a will, they are said to have died “intestate”.  When that happens, the person’s assets will be passed to the heirs based on the rules that Georgia’s intestate succession rules. 

The probate process for a person who is intestate is called an administration and the person named to take care of your estate after your death is called an administrator.  The administrator will file a petition in the probate court, and once appointed and sworn in by the judge, the administrator will first pay the debts of the estate and then make distributions to the living heirs of the deceased person.

  • If you have a spouse but no children, the spouse will get the entire estate; 
  • If you have children, but no spouse, your children will divide the estate equally.

Read more . . .


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Trust Me, It's Like A Little Red Wagon

Mary, an independent, strong-willed woman all of her life, realized that she might need help managing her finances.  She came to me with concerns that her memory might be slipping a little, and she was afraid that she might forget to pay her bills.  After assuring her that she was fine, I encouraged her to consider placing her assets in a trust so that she could write her own rules for management of those assets.  Mary was skeptical.  “Trusts are way too complicated for me!  I don’t even know what a trust is.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Estate Planning for your Business

Mary has several businesses, a real estate partnership with one other person, another business organized as a Limited Liability Company of which she owns 51%, and a third business organized as a corporation which Mary owns 50% of the shares and her brother owns the other 50%.

Mary has three children, two are well into adulthood, but her youngest is 17 and will be starting college next year and plans to study medicine after she completes her undergraduate degree.  Her oldest child, Lindsey, has been working in Mary’s LLC for several years, and has expressed interest in becoming an owner at some point in the future.  The other adult child, Hunter, has no interest in working in any of the businesses.

As a single mother, Mary is concerned about what will happen to her businesses because they are her main source of income and her largest assets.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Tips on Creating an Estate Plan that Benefits a Child with Special Needs

Parents want their children to be taken care of after they die. But children with disabilities have increased financial and care needs, so ensuring their long-term welfare can be tricky. Proper planning by parents is necessary to benefit the child with a disability, including an adult child, as well as assist any siblings who may be left with the caretaking responsibility.
 
Special Needs Trusts
The best and most comprehensive option to protect a loved one is to set up a special needs trust (also called a supplemental needs trust). These trusts allow beneficiaries to receive inheritances, gifts, lawsuit settlements, or other funds and yet not lose their eligibility for certain government programs, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 22, 2022

What Can ABLE Account Money Be Spent On?

ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) accounts offer people with disabilities a great, tax-free way to accumulate money without jeopardizing their qualifications for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other means-tested programs. Withdrawals are tax-free as long as the money is used for “qualified disability expenses.”  The arguments for starting and maintaining such funds are overwhelming, not least of which is the wide variety of things on which the money can be spent.

To build 529A ABLE accounts, beneficiaries (and other contributors) can put up to $16,000 total into these funds each year.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Helping Family Members Who Have Disabilities

Last month, we discussed the most important documents you need to prepare yourself for a potential disability that impairs your ability to make financial or healthcare decisions for yourself.  This month we will discuss what to do if you are responsible for making healthcare or financial decisions for someone with a disability.

A few years ago, my father started to show signs that he was suffering from dementia.  He was always a very intelligent man and had good social skills, so the dementia was most likely hidden for a number of  years. 

At some point, he began paying his bills twice or not paying them at all, and he and his girlfriend got lost while driving to familiar places.


Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Protecting People with Special Needs: Guardianship of Young Adults

Most parents are conflicted when their children reach their 18th birthday.  For many families, that means their child will soon be leaving home for college, a new job, or the military.  For parents of children with developmental disabilities, it can be very scary when that child turns 18, because the law presumes an 18-year-old is an adult with the legal rights and responsibilities that come with adulthood.  When a child turns18, the parent no longer has the legal authority to make decisions for that child.

Joshua, a good-looking young man with a developmental disability, turned 18 six months ago.



Read more . . .


Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Naming Guardians for Minor Children

Phew!  I’ve reached that point in life where I can relax – not much, but a little- because both of my children are adults and, for the most part, out of the nest.  Until just a couple of years ago, I broke out in a sweat every time I had to go out of town on business by myself.  Not only did I worry about whether my kids would get fed, get their homework done and make it to soccer practice on time, but I also worried about what would happen to them if I had an accident and didn’t make it home. 

If you have minor children, children under the age of 18, I’m sure you worry about that, too.  If you are not around, who will feed them, help them with their homework and get them to soccer practice?

Choosing someone to care for your children is difficult.


Read more . . .


Monday, June 6, 2022

Minor Guardianships: Letters of Instruction In Case of the Unimaginable

Writing Instructions to Potential Guardians

If you have minor children, or children with disabilities, the thought of leaving them suddenly is unimaginable.  Parents know their children- their schedules, their health, their likes and dislikes- but keep most of that knowledge in their heads.  When my kids were growing up, I knew when they needed to be at soccer practice and church, who their doctor was and how to reach her, and how to tell when they were sick.  Other than abbreviations on my calendar and names in my database, there was no formal written schedule of activities or list of important contacts.

Most parents can’t imagine how someone would be able to step in and take care of their children.


Read more . . .


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The Elrod-Hill Law Firm,LLC assists clients with Estate Planning, Veterans Benefits, Medicaid, Elder Care Law, Probate, Special Needs Planning and Pet Trusts in the North Atlanta area including the counties of Dekalb, Gwinnett and Fulton.



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