Wills & Trusts
Estate Planning: Who needs it?
The first question I am often asked is, “Who needs Estate Planning?” “Are there any guidelines?” The answer is really very simple. Everybody needs estate planning! It makes no difference how much or how little you have, if you fail to do your estate planning then you will cause unnecessary emotional and financial hardships for your family and other loved ones. There are two parts to estate planning, the death side of estate planning and the living side of estate planning.
Estate Planning Due to a Death:
Unfortunately, all of us will eventually pass away. It has been said that the only things in life which are certain are death and taxes. Therefore we must plan for both. The very first thing you want to accomplish is hiring your professional Estate Attorney – Kennesaw, GA in the early stages, as they will help you to prepare any legal documents you may need in the future. When you pass away, your Will, an estate planning document, will tell the Probate Judge which family members and others will get which assets you owned at your death.
Do you know what would happen if you passed away without a Will?
The government would decide who would get your assets and in what proportions! Is this what you want? Such a situation would cause unbelievable financial and emotional distress on your family and loved ones. Also, if you pass away without a Will, nothing can be done to correct it. The law is the law. Unfortunately almost half of all people die without a Will in the United States every year.
What if I already have a Will?
Well, you might be telling yourself that this is not a problem since you already have a Will. Therefore you feel good because you know you have done the right thing for you and your family. Do you have anything to worry about? Absolutely! In the State of Georgia over 40% of all Wills are contested in Court. Of these, an unbelievable 70% are found null, void and invalid by the Court. Now you have just died without a Will, even though you thought you had one. National statistics indicate that around 1/3 of all Wills throughout the United States are found to be invalid for one reason or another.
There are many reasons why a Will is found to be invalid
The main reason is that most attorneys who write Wills are not estate planning specialists. Since these attorneys do not specialize in estate planning they do not understand all the details and finer points that must be taken care of. Would you let a doctor who specializes in the treatment of broken bones treat your heart condition? Of course not! Therefore, you should never let anyone other than an attorney who specializes in estate planning prepare your Will or other estate planning documents. With a properly drawn Will you can reduce or eliminate these financial and emotional hardships.
What is a Living Will?
Most people have very little knowledge of the living side of estate planning or what is referred to by the Courts as “Living Probate.” Most people assume that they have the automatic right to make decisions on behalf of their spouse, parents and children if they should become unable to make their own decisions due to becoming incapacitated. This is not true! People become unable to make their own decisions due to temporary or permanent impairment due to serious illness (cancer, heart attack, surgery, etc.), accidents or simply “old age.” Yet without a comprehensive and properly executed Durable Power of Attorney for Personal and Financial Affairs you will not be allowed to make decisions concerning your spouse, parents or children (age 18 and above).
If I cannot legally make decisions on their behalf then who can?
Only the government! The government will determine what is best for your loved ones! Fortunately if you do not have a Durable Power of Attorney (Estate Attorney) you can still get the right to make decisions concerning your spouse, parents, etc. You can go down to the Probate Court and request the proper documents to fill out so that you will be granted the right to make the decisions for your loved ones until such time as they are well again. However, not only does this take a lot of time which you don’t have but you will be required to complete quite a lot of paperwork (10 pages or more). Also, the Judge decides whether you will be given this right and he can give this right to another person who is not even a family member!
Further, even if you are given the right to make decisions on behalf of a family member, it is done so under the Court’s jurisdiction. Many people hire an attorney to handle this matter at a cost often in excess of $1,000. Most people do not have a Durable Power of Attorney and those that do have one usually have one which is not comprehensive enough and therefore no good. A properly written and executed Durable Power of Attorney for Personal and Financial Affairs can save you and your loved ones tremendous financial and emotional hardships.
Estate Planning is a very detailed and complicated area of the law which only an estate planning attorney, can adequately address. Everybody needs to do their estate planning regardless of “how few” assets they think they have. Estate planning done properly will reduce or eliminate taxes, eliminate unnecessary emotional and financial distress on your loved ones, ensure that your wishes are carried out and give you piece of mind.
For additional information on your Kennesaw Estate Attorney, feel free to contact our professional legal team today to get the results you deserve in a reasonable time.