Most mistakenly believe that estate planning is only for the wealthy, those with elaborate schemes to pass their wealth to their heirs. There is no estate too large or too small that could not benefit from a comprehensive estate plan. Tailored estate plans achieve individual and family goals. Estate planning allows one to provide for loved ones and protect hard earned assets by creating a will, establishing a power of attorney in the event of incompetency and making end of life medical decisions. Estate planning is necessary for those who have young children or special circumstances, such as a special needs dependent. It is important to consult an attorney for advice about individual situations. Family dynamics will vary from one family to another, so there is no “one size fits all” in estate planning. Lack of quality planning can cause confusion among those who are left behind, which can sometimes result in years of needless litigation, excess taxation or loss of benefits.
Estate planning is for anyone interested in making a positive difference in the lives of others after they are gone, whether it’s a spouse, children, other relatives, a life partner, business partner or a charitable entity.
Laws are just beginning to catch up with the digital age. Consider what would happen if all banking is online with paperless bank statements and paperless brokerage statements. Would your heirs know how to access this information or even know that there may be accounts?
Proper estate planning not only puts one in charge of their finances, but it can also spare loved ones the expense, delay and frustration associated with managing affairs without direction.
Many are under the mistaken impression that their spouse or adult children can automatically take over for them in the event they become incapacitated, either because of age or accident. A guardianship procedure can be costly and can be a lengthy process, subjecting assets to depletion and the family to unnecessary expense. Even if a court rules in favor of the person that would have been named, annual reporting to the court about the assets under management, as well as a bond from a qualified insurer, can subject the estate to additional expense. It is more desirable for a person to be able to designate the person or persons to manage their financial affairs, ie paying bills, taking distributions from IRAs, selling stocks and/or refinancing a home.
Planning for medical care during incapacity, be it temporary incapacity or permanent incapacity, is the most desirable. Georgia statutes allow a person to appoint a loved one and alternates to make decisions about medical treatment options, including end of life decisions.