All Posts by Debra Robinson

Returning To The Office: Our COVID-19 Policies

As we work toward reopening our office in the coming weeks, I would like to share our updated COVID-19 policy.  Beginning the week of June 22, 2020, we will be booking a limited number of in-office document signing appointments; the week of July 5, 2020 we will resume normal office hours.  We will continue to serve clients who prefer phone and Zoom conference remotely for consultations and other applicable appointments.  My staff and I appreciate your patience as we navigate through this time and would like to thank you in advance for your cooperation.

DEBRA ROBINSON LAW GROUP COVID-19 OFFICE POLICY

The safety of our clients, our staff, and visitors to the office is of paramount importance during this time. Therefore, we will observe the following precautions in accordance with CDC guidelines in order to maintain a healthy work environment and we expect all staff and visitors to adhere to these precautions:

  1. Any attorney or staff member experiencing symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea should immediately report those symptoms to Debra Robinson (whether or not the symptoms occur at the office) and follow CDC recommended precautions.
  2. Attorneys or staff who have a sick family member at home should immediately notify Debra Robinson and follow CDC recommended precautions.
  3. Attorneys and staff should report any contact with persons with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.
  4. DRLG will provide a forehead thermometer to check temperatures. Attorney and staff temperatures will be checked on their first entry into the suite each day, or if they report feeling ill. Any person with a temperature of 100.4 F or greater will not be allowed entry and/or will be required to leave the suite.
  5. Social distancing will be practiced within the firm, including the following:
    • All attorneys and staff with offices will be required to keep their doors closed when they are in their offices.
    • Face coverings will be required of all attorneys and staff when not in their assigned offices, including when they enter and exit the suite.
    • All attorneys and staff will practice social distancing outside the office and wear a cloth face covering when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain. Wearing a cloth face covering, however, does not replace the need to practice social distancing.
  1. Everyone in the suite should remain six (6) feet apart at all times.
  2. All attorneys and staff should wash their hands with soap and water frequently and/or use hand sanitizer. DRLG will provide soap and water in the kitchen and hand sanitizer at strategic locations within the suite. Hands should be washed or sanitized often.
  3. All surfaces shall be disinfected immediately following interaction with a person who is not a DRLG attorney or staff member. In addition, surfaces in the office shall be disinfected as often as possible.
  4. Attorneys and staff should avoid using other employees’ phones, desks, offices, or work tools and equipment, when possible. If not possible, they should be cleaned and disinfected before and after each use.

DEBRA ROBINSON LAW GROUP CLIENT POLICY

  1. If you are experiencing COVID- 19 systems such as fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting or diarrhea, PLEASE CALL TO CANCEL YOUR APPOINTMENT.
  2. Please wear a mask at all times while in our office. If you do not have a mask, we will provide one.  Hand sanitizer will be available upon entry to the office, and at strategic locations throughout the office.  Please use the hand sanitizer upon entering the office.  Social distancing will be practiced within the firm.  Please try to remain six (6) feet apart from attorneys and staff.
  3. For clients coming to sign documents, we have arranged tables in our workshop room so that our attorneys and staff will be able to maintain the six (6) foot distance while assisting in the execution of your documents. We will provide you with a pen that has never been used, which you can either take with you when you leave, or we will dispose of it for you.

As always, we are here to serve you.  Please contact us at 770-817-4999 or at www.debrarobinsonlaw.com to schedule an appointment today.

The Sandwich Generation

For many Americans, the pressures of adjusting to the “new normal” extend far beyond personal responsibility.  The term “Sandwich Generation” was coined in the 1980s to describe the growing number of people in their 40s or 50s who are raising young or teenaged children, and at the same time serving as caregivers to their aging parents.  Members of the Sandwich Generation are the ones that children and parents rely on to handle all problems, from appointments with the pediatrician to appointments with the Alzheimer’s specialist, from finding a babysitter to finding a certified nursing assistant.

Many of those in the Sandwich Generation work full time or part time jobs, are responsible for maintaining a household, and deal with their caregiving duties on top of everything else.  Their to-do lists can be overwhelming, and they do their best to manage it all.

There is one responsibility, though,  that many Sandwich Generation members overlook: putting a plan in place to provide for their children and parents if something happened and the one who handles it all isn’t there to handle it anymore.

Too many people have no estate plan at all, and most who do might have a plan that creates a trust for their young children, but says nothing about Mom or Dad.  If you are responsible for caring for an aging parent, what would happen to them if you died?  If you are providing for them financially, shouldn’t you have an estate plan that makes sure they are comfortable in their old age?  If your parent is living with you, shouldn’t you make sure they’d still have a place to live if you weren’t there anymore?

Some parents do have enough financial resources to provide for themselves, but many are living on Social Security and maybe a small pension, and rely on their children to help cover their expenses.  If a child dies without a plan to provide for the parent, what happens?

Sandwich Generation members need to make sure that all the things they are doing for their children and their parents could still be done even if they are no longer there.

If you’re looking for an expert in helping you plan and protect your children and your parents, then we invite you to contact our office and schedule an appointment today. We can help develop the right estate plan for you and your needs to make sure you are able to take care of all your loved ones.

Pros and Cons of a Joint Account with Mom or Dad

In these uncertain times, many are exploring ways to help their loved ones ensure safety and security.  Adding a child to a bank account might seem like the perfect solution to safeguarding an elderly parent’s finances. Once added to the account as joint owner, the child can help with bill paying, and can monitor the account balance to control double payments or excessive gifts.  When the parent dies, the account passes to the surviving joint owner without requiring probate.

But there are down sides to adding a joint owner to a bank account that should be considered, and too often aren’t.  If the child added to the account has financial problems, the child’s creditors can access the funds in mom’s or dad’s account to satisfy the child’s debt.  In that circumstance, the decision to add a child to the account to make it easier to protect the parent’s money can result in the loss of the entire account.

Another down side to adding a joint owner that is often not considered is what happens when mom or dad dies if there are other children.  Under Georgia law, the child on the account as joint owner receives one hundred percent of the account.  Even if the parent has left a Will leaving everything equally to all the children, the other children will not receive a share of the joint account.  Of course, the child who receives the account is free to split the funds with the other children, but there is no legal requirement to do so.  If the joint owner chooses to keep all the funds, the decision to add that child to the account caused the other children to be disinherited and undid the parent’s intended estate plan.

If the risks to adding a child to the account as joint owner outweigh the benefits, there is another solution.  The parent can execute a Power of Attorney.  Georgia’s 2017 statutory power of attorney form includes provisions authorizing an agent to pay bills and manage bank accounts.

A properly executed Georgia Power of Attorney can accomplish the goal of safeguarding mom’s or dad’s account, without the possible legal risks.

Do you need to update your estate planning to ensure you have the proper documents to suit your needs? Reach out to schedule an appointment with our expert Estate Planning Attorneys.  Call us at (770) 817-4999 or click here to send us a message.

Millennials Need Estate Planning Too!

The COVID-19 crisis is impacting people of all ages.  Jeremiah Amos, an associate attorney at Debra Robinson Law Group, has an important message to share about the necessity of estate planning for younger generations.

Many of my friends are getting married and starting families of their own, yet when I discuss my work as an estate planning attorney, the immediate response is “I should give your business card to my parents!” However, as Millennials settle down, we need to begin planning for our futures to protect our families through life’s changes.

The Last Will and Testament is the first document most people think of when they think of estate planning – it directs what happens to your estate after your death. Without a Will, the entire process is left up to the court. In Georgia, for a married couple with children, if a spouse dies without a Will, the estate is divided among the surviving spouse and children.

A minor child cannot legally own any property that he or she inherits. Without a good plan in place, a court would appoint someone to manage the assets. The person appointed is supervised by the court and must abide by strict rules. Once the child is 18, all of the assets must be distributed to the child, regardless of his or her ability to manage those assets. If the child’s parent had a properly drafted Will, the assets could have been left to the child in a trust. The Will would dictate terms ofthe trust, who would be in control of the assets, and how and when those assets may be used.

If both parents pass away, someone needs to care for minor children. The best way to ensure that the Court appoints the person of your choosing to fulfill this role is to name a guardian in your Will. Without any indication, the Court is left to appoint a guardian on its own. This uncertainty can result in legal conflicts between family members over who is best suited to care for minor children.

Millennials, we need to think of estate planning not only for our parents, but also for our own families. Making these decisions now protects your family, provides for their future, and alleviates unnecessary chaos and confusion during an extremely difficult time.

One Thing You Shouldn’t DIY

In light of the current pandemic, many Americans are becoming aware of the importance of creating or updating their estate planning documents. With the extension of some states’ stay in place orders, it may be tempting to create your own documents all on your own. Whether you are considering writing your own will or using an online “do it yourself” (DIY) document creator, there are many reasons why this is one project you shouldn’t undertake without the help of a professional.

What is a DIY estate plan? 

A DIY estate plan is something that you “do yourself” without the advice of an estate planning attorney. Someone who DIYs their own legal documents could be:

  1. Handwriting a “will” themselves; 
  2. Downloading a “fill in the blank” document that they got on the internet; or
  3. Using an online document generator that asks pre-set questions. 

Below are five common mistakes associated with DIY estate plans.

  1. DIY estate plans may not conform to the applicable law

Forms that can be found on the internet may claim to conform to your state’s law, but this may not always be the case. The laws that apply to estate planning are determined by each state—and there can be wide variations in the law from state to state. In addition, if you own property in another state or country, the laws in those jurisdictions may differ significantly, and your DIY estate plan may not adequately account for them. 

  1. A DIY estate plan could contain inaccurate, incomplete, or contradictory information

If you attempt to create a will using an online questionnaire, there is the possibility that you may select the wrong option or leave out important information that could prevent your will from accomplishing your goals. Potential problems could be made even worse when do-it-yourself services allow users to insert additional information not addressed by the service’s preset questionnaire: the information added by a DIYer could contradict other parts of the automated will.

  1. Your DIY estate plan may not account for changing life circumstances 

For example, if you create a will in which you leave everything to your two children, what happens if one of those children dies before you? Will that child’s share go entirely to his or her sibling—or will it go to the child’s offspring? What if one of your children accumulates a lot of debt? Is it okay with you if the money or property the indebted child inherits is vulnerable to claims of the child’s creditors? What if your will states your daughter will receive the family home as her only inheritance, but it is sold shortly before you die? Will she inherit nothing? As opposed to a computer program, an experienced estate planning attorney will help you think through the potential changes and contingencies that could have an impact on your estate plan– and help you design a plan that prevents unintended results that could frustrate your estate planning goals. 

  1. Mistakes in executing the plan can be easily made

Under the law, there are certain requirements that must be met for wills and other estate planning documents to be legally valid. For example, a will typically requires the signatures of two witnesses, but state law differs regarding what is necessary for a will to be validly witnessed. Some states require not only that the will be signed by the will-maker and the witnesses, but also that they all sign the will in each other’s presence. In other states, witnesses are not required to be in the same room when the will-maker signs the will, and they can even sign it later if the will-maker tells them his or her signature is valid.  

Similarly, for a valid power of attorney, some states require only the signature of the principal (the person who is granting the power of attorney) to be notarized, but some states require the signatures of both the principal and the agent (the person who will act on behalf of the principal) to be notarized. In other states, one or more witnesses are required—and these requirements may also differ depending upon the type of power of attorney (financial vs. medical) you are trying to execute. If you seek the help of an estate planning attorney, you can rest assured that all of the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” are crossed, and that your intentions will not be defeated because of mistakes made during the execution of your documents.

  1. Assets may be left out of your estate plan

Many people do not realize that a trust is frequently a better estate planning tool than a will because it avoids expensive, time-consuming, and public court proceedings that would otherwise be necessary to transfer your money and property to your heirs after you pass away. Even if you have created a DIY trust, if you do not “fund it” (i.e., transfer title of your money and property into the name of the trust) it will be ineffective and your loved ones will still have to endure the probate process to finish what you started. 

Further, if you do initially transfer the title of all your assets to the trust, it is likely you will acquire additional property or financial accounts over the years that must go through probate if the titles are not transferred to the trust. Regular meetings with an estate planning attorney can help ensure that your plan accomplishes your goals and that your grieving family members are not left with major headaches after you die.

We Can Help

A DIY estate plan can lead to a false sense of security because it may not achieve what you think it does. If your DIY will is not valid, your property and money will go to heirs specified by state law—who may not be the people you would have chosen. An unfunded trust will be ineffective. Banks may not accept a generic power of attorney you found on the internet. Laws affecting your estate plan may change. 

These are just some of the mistakes or unforeseen issues that could cost your family dearly. An experienced estate planning attorney is aware of any trends in the law that could dramatically affect your estate plan and has the expertise needed to help you design and create a comprehensive plan. 

Call us today so we can help provide you and your family with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have an estate plan that accomplishes your goals and will avoid unnecessary attorneys’ fees, headaches, or conflict for your grieving family when you pass away. 

You protect yourself by washing your hands. What are you doing for your finances?

Many Americans spend a lot of time and effort in managing their finances. While most are worried about how the coronavirus (COVID-19) will impact their income—whether that’s because they are temporarily furloughed, find themselves suddenly without a job, or watching their investment and retirement accounts dwindle—there is another way COVID-19 can wreak havoc on American’s finances: lack of incapacity planning.  

As the coronavirus continues to expand across the country, thousands of Americans are unable to carry out normal financial responsibilities because they are too ill, or they are stuck abroad and unable to travel home, or from a lack of resources due to being isolated at home. 

While feeling healthy, individuals should plan ahead now and ensure that someone will take care of their financial duties by setting up a Financial Power of Attorney. This important legal document will not only protect your finances should you fall ill from COVID-19 but also from any events that might leave you incapacitated, like an injury or accident.  

Financial Power of Attorney: what is it?

A Financial Power of Attorney (FPOA) allows you to select a trusted family member or friend who will be responsible for managing your money and other property if you become mentally incapacitated (unable to make your own decisions) due to illness or injury. Without this document, bills won’t get paid, tax returns won’t be filed, bank and investment accounts held in your name will become inaccessible, retirement distributions can’t be requested, and property can’t be bought, sold, or managed.

What happens if I don’t have one and get sick? 

If you get sick and are unable to make or communicate your financial decisions and don’t have an updated FPOA in place, a judge can appoint someone to take control of your assets and make all personal and medical decisions for you through a court-supervised guardianship or conservatorship. 

Why would a court do that?—You may ask.  As an adult, no one is automatically able to act for you, you must legally appoint them through the use of an FPOA. Without it, you and your loved ones could lose valuable time, money, and control. 

WORD OF CAUTION: Don’t think you’re protected just because your assets are held jointly with your spouse, child, or family member. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t rely on joint ownership:

  1. Limited power. While a joint account holder may be able to access your bank account to pay bills or access your brokerage account to manage investments, a joint owner of real estate will not be able to mortgage or sell the property without the consent of all other owners. 
  2. Tax liability. By adding a family member’s name to your accounts or real estate titles you might be saddling them with gift tax liability.
  3. Property seizure. You read that correctly. If your joint owner is sued than your property could be seized in order to pay their debt.  
  4. Medicaid disqualification. Putting a loved one’s name on a joint bank account or property title can disqualify them from receiving government benefits, such as Medicaid.   

Only a comprehensive incapacity plan will protect you and your assets from a court-supervised guardianship or conservatorship and the misdeeds of your joint owners. Do not rely on joint ownership as your plan—it’s simply too risky and unreliable.

Already got one? Chances are it’s outdated.

An FPOA can become “obsolete” in as short as one year. This is because many institutions don’t want to rely on stale, outdated documents. Depending on your circumstances, a stale, obsolete power of attorney may not be able to help you and your family with insurance contracts, retirement plans, banking and investment accounts, online personal accounts such as email, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, and elder care and special needs planning.

If it’s been more than a year or two since you’ve signed your power of attorney, it might be time for a fresh one. Call us! We can help make sure you and your family are fully protected by helping you determine:

  • Who would be the best choice for this responsibility,
  • How much authority you should give your financial agent, and
  • When to make your power of attorney become effective.

Regardless of your priorities, there is a financial power of attorney right for your situation and goals. Determine your specific needs while you are of sound mind. Of course, nothing tops the advice and recommendations of an attorney experienced in these matters.  So if you are wavering between your options, give us a call.

Preparing for Coronavirus: The #1 Document Every Adult Needs To Have

Preparing for Coronavirus: The #1 Document Every Adult Needs To Have

As the coronavirus continues to disrupt daily life and leave Americans uncertain of the future, you don’t have to feel helpless during this pandemic. In fact, now is a great time to be proactive and plan ahead should you or a loved one fall ill. One of the most important and relatively easy things you can do (and should do) is to select a medical agent and set up your advance healthcare directive.

What Is a Medical Agent?

A medical agent (also called a healthcare agent, healthcare surrogate, a healthcare proxy, or a medical proxy) is a person you authorize in a medical power of attorney to make decisions about your medical care if you are too ill to make them yourself or are otherwise unable to communicate your wishes.

Why is it important to choose a medical agent now?

Since no one knows exactly how they will be affected by the virus should they fall ill, it’s best to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Part of that planning is making sure someone can make healthcare decisions for you if you fall ill and are unable to make those decisions for yourself.

Factors to Consider in Choosing Your Medical Agent

A medical agent is an important role, and the person you choose will have the power to make critical healthcare decisions—like consenting to a treatment plan, whether to accept or refuse medical treatment, and which healthcare providers or hospitals to use for your care. As a result, it is crucial to think carefully about who you choose to fill this role. Many people simply assume that their spouse or their oldest child should take on this role, but they are not always the best suited. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an agent:

1) Emotional maturity. People handle stress differently, and not everyone is able to set aside their emotions and make level-headed decisions when someone they love is suffering. In addition, some people are simply not assertive enough to act as a strong advocate in the face of differing opinions of other family members–or even health care providers–who suggest a treatment plan you have informed your medical agent you do not want. You should choose someone who is able to think rationally in emotionally difficult circumstances, even if that means you must look outside of your family to find the best person for the job.

2) Location. The person you choose to act as your medical agent should be someone who lives close by and is able to act on your behalf very quickly in the event of a medical emergency or if you need your advocate to serve in that role for an extended time period. In current times, many people might be under a mandatory or recommended stay-at-home order, or may not be available or willing to travel to another city or state.  Consider naming several alternate agents to account for someone’s potential unavailability.

3) Is willing/able to serve. Acting as a medical agent can be a time-consuming and emotionally draining job. Make sure that the person you choose is willing and able to set aside the time necessary to serve as your patient advocate. Don’t just assume the person you want to be your medical agent is willing: Be proactive and ask if he or she is willing to take on that role. Keep in mind that if you are elderly, you may want to avoid naming a friend or family member who also is older, as there is a greater chance that they will experience mental or physical decline at the same time as you, which could impede their ability to serve as your advocate when the time comes.

4) Will honor your wishes no matter what. Your medical agent has a duty to make decisions on your behalf that you would have made to the extent that he or she is aware of your wishes. This is the case even if your medical agent disagrees with your choices. As a result, your medical agent needs to be someone who is willing to set aside his or her own opinions and wishes to carry out yours. It may be prudent to appoint someone who has values and religious beliefs that are similar to yours to reduce the instances in which your agent’s opinions differ significantly from yours. Do not choose anyone that you do not trust to carry out your wishes.

People You Should Not Choose

Many states have laws prohibiting certain people from acting as your medical agent, even if they are otherwise well-qualified to act in that role:

1) Minors. Many states have laws expressly prohibiting a minor from being a patient advocate. The age of majority could be 18, 19, or 21 years of age, depending upon the state. Some states have exceptions to this prohibition for married or emancipated minors.

2) Your health care providers. Some states not only prohibit your health care providers from acting as your medical agent, but also preclude the owner, operator, or any employee of any facility in which you are a patient or resident from acting in that role. Some states that have adopted this prohibition make an exception for individuals who are related to you. A few states, such as Kansas, Missouri, and Kentucky, also have an exception if that person is an active member of the same religious organization as you.

Need help?

Medical directives may be among the most important legal documents you prepare – especially in light of COVID-19. Picking a medical agent can be tricky and we can help you think through your choice. We can also help with any other estate planning needs you may have—whether that’s setting up a financial power of attorney, last will and testament, or a trust. Please give us a call today to discuss how we can help you and your family be prepared should you fall ill from the coronavirus.

 

Protect IRA

Protecting a Vulnerable IRA Beneficiary

Most IRA owners want the person they’ve named as IRA beneficiary to delay the payment of income taxes for as long as possible. For a vulnerable IRA beneficiary, there is a secondary goal of passing the IRA account in a way that protects the income tax deferral, but also ensures the IRA itself will not be misspent.

If the individual you’ve named as beneficiary of your IRA would not have the ability to make good financial decisions because of dementia, other health issues, inexperience, or just a history of poor money management, leaving outright control of the IRA to that beneficiary does not make sense.

A spouse can treat an inherited IRA like their own retirement account, and roll it over into a new or existing IRA, or leave it as an inherited IRA. Either option allows continued income tax deferral. If the spouse didn’t follow the rules on a timely basis, the benefits of the income tax deferral would be in jeopardy.

The same tax concern applies to non-spouse beneficiaries who can elect to take required minimum distributions over their life expectancy.  Incapacity or poor decision making would put income tax deferral at risk.

For many retirees, their IRA is a significant part of their net worth. Why leave something you’ve worked a lifetime to accumulate to a beneficiary who would not understand the importance of income tax deferral, or be able to preserve and protect the IRA?

The way to protect the income tax deferral and protect the IRA itself is to name a qualified trust for the vulnerable beneficiary as the beneficiary of the IRA.  A trust that meets the requirements of a “designated beneficiary” receives the same income tax deferral as if the individual was named as beneficiary, and a trust provides protection against creditors and predators. The Trustee would make the decisions regarding income tax deferral and investment choices, and would distribute appropriate amounts for the beneficiary’s needs either to the beneficiary, or if the beneficiary would not be capable of paying bills, pay them directly from the trust.

Do you need to update your estate planning to protect your beneficiaries? Reach out to schedule an appointment with our expert Estate Planning Attorneys.  Call us at (770) 817-4999 or click here to send us a message.

SECURE Act

The SECURE Act: How It Will Affect You and the Beneficiaries of Your Retirement Accounts

The SECURE Act, which was effective January 1, 2020, is the most impactful legislation affecting retirement accounts in decades.

The SECURE Act has some positive changes: it increases the required beginning date (RBD) for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your individual retirement accounts from 70 ½ to 72, and it eliminates the age restriction for contributions to qualified retirement accounts.

The SECURE Act also has a very significant change that will impact your retirement account beneficiaries: it requires most designated beneficiaries to withdraw the entire balance of an inherited retirement account within ten years of the account owner’s death.

There are exceptions to the ten-year withdrawal rule: spouses, beneficiaries who are not more than ten years younger than the account owner, the account owner’s children who have not reached the “age of majority,” disabled individuals, and chronically ill individuals.

Under the old law, beneficiaries of inherited retirement accounts could take distributions over their individual life expectancy. Under the SECURE Act, the shorter ten-year time frame for taking distributions will result in the acceleration of income tax due, possibly causing your beneficiaries to be bumped into a higher income tax bracket, and receiving less from your estate than you may have originally anticipated. 

Your estate planning goals likely include more than just tax considerations. You might be concerned with protecting a beneficiary’s inheritance from their creditors, future lawsuits, and a divorcing spouse. In order to protect your hard-earned retirement account and the ones you love, a trust is a great tool to provide continued protection of a beneficiary’s inheritance.

Although this new law may be changing the way we think about retirement accounts, there are still some tools to minimize the impact of the accelerated income tax:

If you are charitably inclined, now may be the perfect time to review your planning and use your retirement account to fulfill these charitable desires, while providing a life time income to your beneficiaries through a Charitable Remainder Trust. 

In past years when many estates were impacted by federal estate tax, a common technique was to purchase life insurance through an irrevocable trust to fund the tax payment. This technique can now be used to replace the inheritance lost to income tax acceleration.

We will be holding a presentation in our office on the impact of the SECURE ACT for our Maintenance Plan clients.  If you would like information on joining our Maintenance Plan, please call our office at (770) 817-4999.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys to review the impact of the SECURE Act on your beneficiaries, please call (770) 817-4999 to schedule that appointment.

New Year's Resolution For A Will 2020

How About A New Year’s Resolution To Finally Get A Will?

Married couples often believe they don’t need Wills because if one of them died, everything would simply pass to the survivor. Whether that happens depends on how the assets are titled or if there is a designated beneficiary. If there are assets titled just in the deceased spouse’s name, with no beneficiary, it isn’t that simple.

If a married person with children dies without a Will, Georgia inheritance law directs that those assets pass in equal shares to the surviving spouse and the children, with the spouse receiving a minimum one third share.

For example, if a woman married a man who had two children, and moved into the house he owned, when her husband died without a Will, she would find that her stepchildren now owned two thirds of that home.

In Georgia, for the ownership of real estate to pass automatically to a surviving owner, the Deed must state that it is joint with right of survivorship. If it does not say that, then each owner owns a percentage. In the same example, if her husband added her to the Deed as an owner, but did not include the provision that it was with right of survivorship, then after his death she would continue to own her one half, but she would inherit only one third of his one half, with his children inheriting the other two thirds. Still not a great result for her.

If her husband had written a Will, he could have left her full ownership of the home, or at least the right to live in the home for her lifetime.

This is just one example of the unpleasant results that survivors face because someone they loved and trusted died without a Will. It may not be pleasant to think about your own mortality, but writing a Will is the responsible thing to do for the people you love. If you haven’t gotten around to having your Will prepared, how about a New Year’s Resolution to finally get a Will next year?

Not sure exactly what you need for you and your family? A trusted Estate Planning Attorney can help!  Reach out to schedule an appointment with our expert Estate Planning Attorneys. Call us at (770) 817-4999 or click here to send us a message.

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