Why plan?

“In this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”

– Benjamin Franklin

We’ve all heard that phrase, and while some taxes are avoidable, the unfortunate truth is that death is not. And while death may not be a leading topic to bring up at dinner parties, it is also not something we should avoid addressing altogether, because death is inevitable. The only choice in regard to that event is whether you deal with it prior to your passing or whether you leave it to your loved ones to deal with in the aftermath.

Not having a plan in place can lead to family controversy, could cause your wishes to not be carried out, and could cause unnecessary delay and expense by involving thee Court System. At Georgia Advocate Partners, we believe that having a plan in place for your family is one of the best things you can do for those you love.

Every plan is individual

Each of us have beautiful, wonderful, and unique families – the plan that you leave behind should be as distinctive as your family. There are many law firms who would be happy to do a cookie cutter will for you, but that is not what I do.

Because there are a multitude of ways that your wishes can be attended to in planning – I take the time to figure out what you need to address your concerns. Each plan is then uniquely tailored to what you need.

If you have minor children, we can address issues of guardianships. If you have pets, we can plan for what happens to your furry family members. Even more importantly, I also understand that families are dynamic. What you need today may not be what you need tomorrow. So, Georgia Advocate Parters is here to continue to address those individual needs, as your family changes and grows.

Wills and Trusts

In planning there are two major tools that are often utilized for estate planning – Wills and Trusts. So what is the difference and why would you choose one over the other?

Where there is a will there is probate.

The probate process in the State of Georgia can be expensive and time consuming, but when compared to many other states in the Union, it is not the worst. So, will based planning can be a viable option and is the traditional vehicle by which people do their estate planning.

The vast majority of people understand wills and understand their purpose, but wills have limitations. For example, a will only works after you’ve died. It does nothing for planning for incapacity, such as during a coma or after a stroke. Additionally, a will often requires the Probate process. Many families would prefer to avoid that.

Trust Planning

Trusts on the other hand can address many of the shortcomings of a will. Trusts generally do not require probate. Instead, the trust dictates what happens to the assets inside of the trust – and the trustee carries out those directives. Some trusts can also provide protections against creditors and protections against misuse by family members. Trusts also provide better protections during times of incapacity, something a will simply cannot do.

Which is right for you?

That is what our planning sessions are for. For some families, a will perfectly takes care of what the family needs. For other families, especially those with minor children or children with special needs, more intensive planning may be appropriate. We never know what tomorrow might bring, so planning for the future should start today.

Why should I do estate planning?

A complete estate plan will consider the following:

  1. Life insurance policies: Evaluate existing life insurance policies and ensure that they are up-to-date with current beneficiaries. Consider the tax implications of proceeds and how they will be distributed.
  2. Retirement accounts: Designate beneficiaries for your retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k)s, to ensure that they are not subjected to unnecessary taxes and penalties. Be aware of the rules governing required minimum distributions (RMDs) and other tax implications.
  3. Trusts: Establishing trusts can help minimize estate taxes and provide a controlled distribution of assets to beneficiaries. Trusts can also protect assets from creditors and provide for beneficiaries with special needs.
  4. Wills: Ensure that your will is up-to-date and clearly outlines the distribution of your assets. Regularly review and update your will, especially after significant life events like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child.
  5. Gifting: Consider lifetime gifting as a strategy to reduce your estate’s taxable value. The annual gift tax exclusion allows you to give a certain amount to any number of individuals each year without incurring gift tax.
  6. Healthcare and long-term care: Coordinate your healthcare and long-term care insurance policies to ensure they complement each other and provide the necessary coverage. Designate a healthcare power of attorney to make medical decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
  7. Power of attorney: Appoint a trusted individual as your financial power of attorney to manage your financial affairs in case you become incapacitated.
  8. Tax planning: Consult with a tax professional to optimize your estate plan for tax efficiency. This may include strategies such as converting traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs or setting up charitable remainder trusts.
  9. Communication: Discuss your estate planning intentions with your family and beneficiaries to avoid confusion or disputes later on.
  10. Professional assistance: Seek the advice of an experienced estate planning attorney, financial planner, and tax professional to help you navigate the complexities of coordinating benefits in your estate plan.

Remember that estate planning is an ongoing process that should be reviewed and updated as your personal and financial circumstances change.

You have worked hard for what you have, make sure that you and your family get the most benefit out of your assets.

Need help with your estate planning?