Wills, Trusts, and Estates

The preparation of wills and trusts ensures that your wishes are preserved after your death. Without an estate plan, the State of Georgia will make critical decisions affecting you and your family. Wills and trust include transfers of your property to selected beneficiaries upon your death, working in your absence to protect your loved ones.

Estates are essentially combinations of many aspects of elder law. Powers of attorney, advance healthcare directives, trusts, guardianships, and conservatorships all stem from the laws governing Estates. Estate Administration is not the same as probate. Administration begins after the probate process is completed.

The Success Firm, LLC will work with you to develop a plan that details exactly what you may need and want in your most vulnerable moments. It is wise to organize your future while you still can. Developing a plan for managing your healthcare and property should you become severely disabled or pass away will save your family and friends a considerable amount of time, money and grief.

  • A Will is a document which dictates how the properties and assets of a person are to be dispersed after death.
  • A Trust is where one party gives property or assets to a second party to be held and used for the benefit of a third party.
  • A Power of Attorney grants a designated individual the right to manage your property and, handle your business affairs, and sign legal documents on your behalf.
  • An Advance Healthcare Directive An advanced health care directive serves two primary purposes: (1) it appoints a health care agent to make decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself, and (2) it directs your health care agent and provider with regard to end-of-life decisions. The document gives instructions on managing your health care, burial, and medical decisions in the event that you are unable to verbalize your own wishes.
  • Guardianship matters involve appointing a guardian will make decisions regarding their health and safety. These can include decisions regarding medical treatment and everyday living such as: support, education, care, health, welfare, place of residence, and types of medical treatment
  • Conservatorship matters involve appointing a conservator will make decisions regarding financial concerns such as: paying bills and other debts, creating a budget for the ward, handling investments on behalf of the ward, and filing taxes
  • Estate administration refers to the process of administering an estate of a deceased person. If there is a Will, the executor handles administration.  If there is no Will, an administrator needs to be appointed.  Once administration begins, both an executor and administrator are referred to under Georgia law a personal representative.

Planning For Your Own Passing

Create a Plan Today

Begin to develop a plan that details exactly what you may need and want in your most vulnerable moments. It is wise to organize your future while you still can. Creating a plan for managing your healthcare and property should you become severely disabled or pass away will save your family and friends a considerable amount of time, money and grief.

Your Plan Should Include:

· A Will is a document which dictates how the properties and assets of a person are to be dispersed after death.

· A Power of Attorney grants a designated individual the right to manage your property and, handle your business affairs, and sign legal documents on your behalf.

· An Advance Healthcare Directive serves two primary put poses: (1) it appoints a health care agent to make decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself, and

(2) it directs your health care agent and provider with regard to end-of-life decisions. The document gives instructions on managing your health care, burial, and medical decisions in the event that you are unable to verbalize your own wishes.

Outline the Funeral or Memorial Service

If you want something specific to happen at your funeral or memorial service after you die it’s best to get it in writing and let your family know your wishes. Doing so gets rid of the headache of planning for your family, and ensures you get what you want. You don’t need to go in and plan everything out, but here are a few things worth considering:

· If you want a burial, you need to find a grave plot. You’ll need to contact a local cemetery and purchase a plot.

· If you want cremation, you’ll work with a funeral director, so contact a local funeral home and arrange any details with them.

· Decide if you want to pre-pay for any arrangements with a funeral home so you don’t have to worry about your family paying for anything while they wait to get access to your money.

Remember the average funeral is around $6,500, planning and paying ahead of time is in your family’s best interest.

At this time, you can also decide if you want anything specific in a memorial service, how you want the wake handled, or how you would like any affiliated religious service to be handled. Developing a plan today ensures your wishes are known to your family members and loved ones and ensures that the focus is on celebrating your life and sustaining your memory.

Organize Your Finances, Life Insurance, Bills, Debts, and Everything Else

While the bulk of your assets are distributed on your will, you still have a lot of financial obligations out in the world. Naming an executor on your will and a power of attorney is just one step. You’ve probably already done this, but it’s also important to get all your finances organized so your heirs can actually find what they need. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property, around $32.9 billion assets are currently unclaimed because the state took hold of them instead of the family.

Two of the most important documents are your life insurance policy (especially policies from former employers) and retirement plans (as well as pensions and annuities), because both are easy to overlook. If your heirs don’t know these accounts and policies exist, they can’t claim them and the funds usually go to the state. So, gather up your various policies and keep them together.

If you don’t have a life insurance policy, you might want to get one. A life insurance policy isn’t just about covering your salary after you die, it’s about helping your family pay for funeral costs, car loans, credit cards, mortgages, and everything else.

To make the process easier on your family when you pass away, it’s also a good idea to gather together all your debts (especially big ones like your mortgage, car loans, or credit cards) in one place so your heirs can pay your bills for you while they figure everything else out. You likely already do this, but it’s good to keep everything together so they don’t have to search for it. To make the process even easier, you can add a family member to at least one of your bank accounts so they always have access to some of your funds.

Let the Success Firm help you navigate your estate planning and probate needs.

Documents To Gather

Here is a list of documents to gather and be made known to the individuals you trust to administer your estate:

· Insurance policies;

· Death certificate;

· Anatomical gifts or organ donor papers;

· Marriage certificate;

· Divorce decrees from previous marriages, if any;

· Will;

· Trust;

· Military discharge papers (if applicable);

· List of assets (e.g. personal property, real property);

· Bank account numbers;

· Social Security numbers for you and the deceased;

· Previous year’s tax return.

Remember to keep all of this information secure at all times to prevent identity theft.