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Estate Planning Guide: Getting Your Affairs in Order

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67% of people don’t have estate plans. Trust us, you don’t want to be one of these people. When a person has no estate plan, the government will decide what happens to their money and belongings.

What the government decides may or may not follow your wishes. And it could leave your family members without what they need. Or they may need to fight hard to get what they need.

Estate planning can save your surviving family members a lot of stress, time, and money. It can also give you peace of mind. Read on to learn how to tackle this challenge.

What Is Your Estate?

Your estate includes every last tangible asset you own. This can include your personal belongings. It also includes intangible assets such as patents, licenses, and copyrights.

When you die or can’t take care of yourself, these assets will need to go to someone. An estate plan will help you assign assets to different people.

What Is an Estate Plan?

Physically, an estate plan is a collection of legal documents. These documents outline what should happen should you die or can’t take care of yourself.

In the case of the former situation, the documents can outline what will happen to your assets. The guidelines usually explain who will get your assets. In some cases, you may want certain assets destroyed.

In the case of the latter situation, the documents will explain what kind of medical care you want. They will also say who will need to take care of the estate.

Who Needs an Estate Plan?

Everyone needs an estate plan. You may think that you’re too young or that your family will know what to do. Neither of these are true.

You’re Not Too Young

Death comes to everyone, no matter how young and/or healthy. If you have any kind of money or property or both, it needs to go to someone.

Plus, getting your affairs in order sooner than later can save you money. Some people may want to get a life insurance policy on top of their estate plan. It’s cheaper to get one of these in your 30s than in your 50s and 60s.

Your Family Can Act Erratically

You may think that you know your family well. They’ll just let your assets go to your spouse and/or children. Or they’ll follow your verbal instructions to donate all your assets to your favorite charity.

The problem is that people can act differently around money and property. They can fight with all their might to prove why your assets should go to them. Things can get very nasty.

It’s best for people to have legal instructions that they need to follow.

What Happens to Your Estate?

When you die or become unable to take care of yourself, your estate may go through a thorough a probate process. This is the process of verifying the legality of your will and ensuring your final wishes are carried out.

Probate Court

Even if you have a will, your estate will still go to probate court. If you have a will, the court involved with the process will use it as a guide. If you don’t have a will, the court will use local laws to decide how to distribute your assets.

The probate process should go by quickly if you have a small estate. However, if someone contests your will, the process can drag on for months.

Your Executor

If you don’t have a will, the probate court will appoint someone to handle your estate affairs. If you do have a will, you should have appointed a person as an executor. They will manage your tax bills, paying off debts you owe, and distributing assets.

People often ask a close relative to handle their affairs, but you can appoint anyone. Just make sure you have some backup executors as well. Nominated executors can decline their position.


Your executor will take care of any taxes that your estate owes. If your estate earns an income, your executor will need to file an income tax return, deal with property taxes, etc.

If your estate is very wealthy, your executor will also need to deal with estate taxes. These are taxes that an executor must pay before distributing anything to your heirs.

If you have less than $12.92 million, you shouldn’t have to worry about an estate tax. But this exemption can be lower depending on the estate. Be sure to check up on your local laws.

Steps for Estate Planning

So how do you go about getting your affairs in order? Try following the steps below:

Make a List of Your Assets

Create an inventory of everything you own. This should include the following:

  • Investments
  • Bank accounts
  • Real estate
  • Digital assets
  • Businesses
  • Personal property
  • Insurance policies
  • Debts you owe

Make Your Estate Plan

Use the record of all your things to create an estate plan. Think of the beneficiaries you want to pass your assets along to. Think of back-up beneficiaries you want to give your assets to if your initial beneficiaries have predeceased you.

Using a professional to create your estate plan will make certain that your plan is 100% legal and bulletproof.

Execute the Plan

For many people, you may just need to sign a few documents. For others, you may need to sell property, change the names on titles, etc.

Keep Updating Your Plan

It is important to review your estate plan every few years to make sure your plan stays up-to-date with life events.

Estate Planning Assistance

The bottom line is that if you have assets, you need an estate plan. If you don’t, you will have no control over where all your assets will go. You owe yourself the peace of mind that comes with estate planning.

Do you need help with planning your estate? If so, consider using our services. We have helped citizens of the Augusta, GA and Aiken, SC, areas with lifetime and death planning for over 30 years.

Contact us today for more information.

Your Questions About Supplemental Needs Trusts: Answered

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Supplemental needs trusts are estate planning tools trustees use to pass down assets to children and relatives with special needs. They fall under the overarching category of special needs trusts (SNTs).

The benefit of a supplemental needs trust is that the inheritance of the person with special needs will not impact their disability benefits. Most public disability benefits programs place asset limits on beneficiaries.

If you have a child or relative with special needs, you want to ensure they are set up for the future. A supplemental needs trust can help. Get your questions about these unique estate planning tools in this guide.

Supplemental Needs Trust FAQs

Special needs trusts (SNTs) can be first- or third-party. First-party trusts are also known as self-settled trusts, meaning the disabled person owns the assets in the trust.

Third-party trusts are also called supplemental needs trusts. In this case, the asset owner is someone other than the beneficiary. The assets in the trust may come from parents, grandparents, or even the person’s life insurance policy.

Does a Special Needs Trust Affect Social Security Benefits?

No, as long as the trust’s assets are distributed according to social security regulations, an SNT will not affect social security benefits. SNT assets will not impact Medicaid benefits, either.

Special needs trust violations can result in the cancellation of a beneficiary’s social security and Medicaid benefits. That is why it is essential to hire a qualified and experienced attorney to draw up the trust terms.

What Is the Difference Between a Supplemental Needs Trust vs. a Special Needs Trust?

All supplemental needs trusts are special needs trusts, but not all special needs trusts are supplemental needs trusts. SNTs also include self-settled trusts.

The disabled person puts their own assets into a self-settled trust. Relatives of the disabled person (e.g., parents or grandparents) or the disabled person’s life insurance provider contribute assets to a supplemental needs trust.

What Can You Use a Supplemental Needs Trust For?

Disabled people can use supplemental needs trusts to pay for necessities. Necessities include rent, mortgages, personal care items, entertainment, transportation, and more.

How Much Should You Pay for a Supplemental Needs Estate Plan?

The cost of an estate plan depends on the attorney’s fee structure. Some lawyers charge hourly rates, while others charge a flat fee for their services.

It is important to ask lawyers about their payment structure during your initial consultation. We will talk more about the best questions to ask during your consultation next.

How to Find the Right Estate Planning Attorney

Now that you understand a bit more about special needs trusts, it is time to start looking for lawyers. It’s always a good idea to schedule consultations with multiple attorneys. That way, you can find the one who is right for you.

Here are the top questions to ask prospective attorneys during the consultation.

How Long Has the Attorney Practiced Probate, Trusts, and Estate Planning Law?

Experience is everything when it comes to attorneys. And this holds especially true when working with estate planning lawyers.

In addition to general experience with trusts, you want to ensure your attorney has worked on supplemental needs trusts in the past.

What Percentage of the Practice Is Devoted to Probate, Trusts, and Estate Planning Law?

You don’t want to hire a lawyer who focuses on criminal law if you need a special needs trust. Instead, only work with legal professionals whose primary focus is on estate planning and trusts.

Will the Attorney Provide a Written Fee Agreement?

A written fee agreement is an essential part of the attorney/client relationship. Fee agreements outline how much you will pay the attorney for their services.

Additionally, fee agreements help set expectations for both you and the lawyer. The agreement should detail the services you will receive in exchange for expenses charged.

Does the Attorney Require a Retainer?

legal retainer is a flat fee some attorneys ask for upfront. This fee acts as a down payment for legal services. After the retainer, your estate planning lawyer will bill you at an hourly rate.

All of these details should be outlined in the written fee agreement. He or she should also provide an itemized record of hours billed and work done.

Is the Attorney Knowledgeable and Interested?

Contrary to the legal dramas we watch on TV, most lawyers can not recite laws off the top of their heads. However, your lawyer should be able to answer basic questions about estate planning law without looking them up.

Additionally, a good attorney should seem interested in your case. If a lawyer seems distracted or dismissive during your first consultation, it is probably best to look elsewhere.

Does the Attorney’s Manner Put You at Ease?

Many people find lawyers intimidating. But you should never feel intimidated by the lawyer you choose to execute your trust. You may not want to ask questions or share personal details if you feel ill at ease with your lawyer.

That is why it is critical to choose a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable. No matter how complicated or personal the conversation gets, you should feel like you are talking to a trusted friend.

Does the Attorney Explain Estate Planning Laws Clearly?

Estate plans, trusts, and probates have complex laws surrounding them. It can be difficult for a layperson to understand these laws. This is where your lawyer should step in.

Your attorney should clearly and patiently explain the answers to all your questions. If you feel like an attorney brushes you off or leaves you feeling confused, this could be a red flag.

Need a Special Needs Trust Attorney in Augusta?

A supplemental needs trust can ensure disabled beneficiaries do not lose disability benefits when they inherit assets. The right estate planning lawyer can help you set up an airtight special needs trust for your loved one(s).

Are you looking for an estate planning attorney with expertise in executing special needs trusts? Rhodes Law Firm has the experienced lawyers you need in Augusta, GA. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

When’s The Right Time To Start Estate Planning

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A recent survey showed that only 33% of US adults have an estate plan in place. Many people put this off believing that they are too young to have one or don’t have enough assets.

The reality is that estate planning is something that everyone needs to consider. Even those who are in their 20s need to start considering what their estate plan should include.

There are many different kinds of trust options that you also need to understand. Every legal adult should take time to create this plan in case something happens to them.

Keep reading to find out more about estate planning and when you should begin.

When Is Estate Planning Necessary?

The majority of financial advisors recommend that people begin estate planning once they are legal adults. This is due to the fact that you are now legally responsible for everything that you own.

You may not think that estate planning is important because you don’t have many valuable assets. But the reality is that these assets have to be distributed no matter how many there are.

If you own a savings account, this needs to be included in your estate plan. If you were to pass away, you need someone designated who will take over this account.

If you have some kind of inheritance money or other assets, this is also important. People should also start estate planning if they are married, divorced, or getting remarried.

This is also something that you should consider if you travel often since something could happen to you. You want to have your state plan in order so that your family knows how to proceed.

Who Should Start Estate Planning?

Everyone should have a living trust prepared for when they pass away. No matter how old you are, this is important since you do have assets that have to be taken care of.

Those who are in their 20s should have a power of attorney already set up. They should also include a healthcare directive in case something were to happen to you.

It is also a good idea to have a well in place since you may have an accumulation of money or items of value. For those in their 30s, you will want to have all of these things as well as a trust.

A trust protects your assets from probate courts, making it easier for your beneficiaries. Ideally, by 30, you should already have all of your estate planning documents in place.

There aren’t many that are necessary, so there is no reason to delay this process. If you do not have your state plan in place by 50, you definitely want to get everything together.

What is a Will?

If you are going to create a will, this is something that you should do as soon as possible. It will help by leaving instructions for your loved ones once you have passed.

A will has instructions and will designate a power of attorney so that your family knows what to do. Many people pass away without a will leaving their families in the dark about their last wishes.

This is completely preventable since a Will is very easy to create for the future.

What is a Trust?

A trust is another important document that includes property or other investments. This controls how your assets will be distributed if you become incapacitated or pass away.

This can help your family to avoid probate as well as family squabbles. This is important whether you have a lot of assets or just a few that need to be distributed.

Should You Update Your Estate Plan?

Something that many people forget about is updating their estate plans. You may think that you create these documents and you can forget about them, but that isn’t always the case.

There are instances where you may want to go back and update certain documents. These are usually considered to be triggers or milestones throughout your life.

This could be anything from winning the lottery to inheriting valuable assets. Anything that increases your wealth should automatically lead to you updating your estate plan for the future.

Most experts recommend revisiting your estate plan every 3 to 5 years. A lot can change in a few years, so doing this will refresh your memory of what you need to update.

Hiring Someone to Help With Your Estate Plan

If you are getting your estate plan in place, you may wonder if you should hire someone. It is a good idea to hire an attorney who has experience in estate planning and other legal plans.

This could include anything from special-needs planning to charitable planning. There are many life occurrences where you may want a plan in case something happens.

Not everyone needs to hire an attorney to help them do this, it just depends on the situation. For the most part, the majority of people should consider this to make life easier.

It can be hard to know what you need between wills, trusts, and property transfer documents. It can be confusing, and everything needs to be done legally.

Having an attorney on your side can make this process easier and faster. They can handle the legal side to ensure that all of your documents have authority.

The Right Time to Prepare Your Estate Plan

If you have not created your estate plan yet, now is the time. Estate planning can be done at any time and ensures that your assets will be distributed correctly once you are gone.

Do you want to hire an attorney to help you with these documents? Contact us today at Rhodes Law Firm to talk to one of our attorneys.

A Guide to the Importance of Estate Planning

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58% of people haven’t started to create a will. Or have even thought about the importance of estate planning to protect themselves and their loved ones upon their passing. We take time to plan out every other thing in our lives.

Everything except estate planning, which is why you’re here. If you’re still unsure of the importance of estate planning, you’ve come to the right place.

Below you’ll find some valuable estate planning tips to help you get your affairs in order ahead of time.

Here are the reasons why future planning matters!

Protects People Listed As Beneficiaries

There are several types of accounts you sign up for while you’re living. One of the standard practices organizations have people commit to is declaring a beneficiary in case of their death.

Someone that’s a beneficiary will be the person that the assets get passed on to when you pass per your signed declaration.

One of the first critical reasons that having an estate plan is crucial is to protect those that you’ve listed as your beneficiaries. This will ensure that everyone you want to pass things like monetary assets or homes you leave behind are given on to the right people.

One thing that can bring out the worst in people is having a family member pass and then having to decide who gets what. We aren’t saying that an estate plan won’t cause ill feelings between those who are beneficiaries and those who aren’t.

However, it will outline and clarify who gets what.

If you don’t have a plan that lists your beneficiaries, the court system will likely be the one that decides what happens to all of your assets. Which, again, can cause friction between your loved ones.

This is because the courts have no knowledge of your wants because it’s not in writing for them to review and enforce.

Offers Protection From IRS Bills

While many people don’t mind inheriting from their family members, one thing that crosses their mind is the amount they will have to pay in taxes if they choose to take on these inherited assets.

When you list people as your beneficiary, one goal you have is to reduce the tax bill they will have as much as you possibly can.

For example, if you use an IDT or irrevocable trust, you can transfer the assets you have to your beneficiary and they can’t be taxed. However, the person that is listed as the “grantor” of these assets will have to file and complete a 1040 form and return it to the IRS.

As long as the assets being transferred are provided at the correct value, there will be nothing to report. This means the trust will essentially pay any taxes it incurs itself without additional payment from the beneficiary.

Estate Planning Takes Steps Beyond a Typical Will

It’s not uncommon for people to assume that a will is the same thing as estate planning. The common theme amongst the two documents is that they both specify how you wish your assets to be handled when you’ve died.

However, estate planning outlines much more than you typically find in your will. For example, the estate planning guide will detail any medical directives you’ve specified.

This is in case you cannot make decisions on your own.

Of course, the medical beneficiary would only happen if you’re incapacitated or have other medical complications. Another detailed piece of information that can be found in an estate planning document is trust.

This aids in the facilitation of property being passed along.

As mentioned previously, this benefits you and the person inheriting the property for various tax purposes.

Takes Care of Your Children

When you consider estate planning or a will, the last thing you think about including information on is your children. It’s essential that you take time to outline who will take care of your living dependents in the event you pass and they are still minors.

Again, like the assets you’ll be passing along, you don’t want to leave the decision in custody for your children up to the legal system. The last thing that will need to happen is your children ending up in the middle of a battle between family members over who they will end up living with.

When you don’t have an estate plan, the court will appoint someone as their legal guardian, but this won’t stop other family members or close friends from petitioning to become their guardians. If there are no other family members alive to take custody of your children and no friends willing to, your children will become wards of the state.

This means they will be turned over to the foster care system until they age out of the system and can begin living their adult lives on their own. Also, it’s best to designate a secondary guardian in the event that the first one isn’t able to take your children or something happens to them, making them an unsuitable guardian.

Estate Planning: Start Today!

When it comes to estate planning, it’s crucial that you stop waiting and take the time to reach out to an estate planning attorney. They’ve got the experience needed to explain the process and guide you through it from beginning to end.

Contact Rhodes Law Firm and let us help you get your assets in order. There’s nothing better than continuing to enjoy your life knowing that you’ve done what it takes to protect your loved ones long after you’re gone.

Around the Web: Communicate your Estate Plan

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For an estate plan to be successful, communication is key. Ultimately, failure to communicate and build trust within your family is a huge risk factor to the success of your wealth transfer. According to this J.P. Morgan article, many estate planning attorneys list “communicating the plan” as the final step in the process. 

The article describes several common scenarios to consider when communicating your plan. 


No one knows where your documents are or what is already arranged. When a loved one passes away, families often have to make quick financial decisions on their behalf, such as paying bills. It’s important to let someone know where you keep your paperwork, as well as passwords and account details. It can be so beneficial to equip your emergency contact ahead of time so that they don’t add on any more stress while grieving. 


Your expectations are not shared with beneficiaries. This can be especially important if you plan to distribute shares unequally. This can be due to a child needing more specialized care or assistance or various other reasons. Disclosing this information ahead of time can mitigate any confusion or misunderstandings between beneficiaries. 


You put one beneficiary in charge of everything. This can cause conflict in a few different ways. The named beneficiary could feel overwhelmed with the sole responsibility or those left out of the decision making process could feel hurt. It’s wise to name back-up people and make sure everyone is aware of the plan to help ease any conflicts. 


Ultimately, be open about your wishes and ensure that your beneficiaries are prepared to take control. There is no time like today to start estate planning. Give Rhodes Law Firm a call to get started!

What Are the Benefits of a Durable Power of Attorney?

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Did you know there are several types of power of attorney? Well, if that’s news to you, it may be surprising to learn that one of the most common types of POA is a durable power of attorney. But what does that mean exactly?

A durable power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person the authority to act on your behalf in the event that you are no longer able to do so. This could be due to incapacity or illness. The person who is granted this authority is known as your “attorney-in-fact” or “agent.”

Having a durable power of attorney is an important part of your estate planning. You may choose to appoint a close family member, such as a spouse or child, as your attorney-in-fact, but this is not always the best decision.

In some cases, it may be better to appoint a professional, such as an attorney or financial advisor. This is especially true if the individual you are appointing will have significant responsibilities, such as managing your finances or making healthcare decisions on your behalf.

While the idea of giving someone else power over your life may seem daunting, there are many benefits to having a durable power of attorney in place. Read on to learn more.

Durable Power of Attorney Benefits

There are many benefits to appointing a durable power of attorney. For starters, a durable POA can provide peace of mind. They can help avoid family conflict and expense delays in probate court. A durable power of attorney also gives you access to someone who will make the decisions you would make.

Peace of Mind

One of the main benefits of a durable power of attorney is the peace of mind it gives. You can rest assured that your affairs will be handled per your wishes if you cannot do so.

If you cannot communicate your wishes, or if you want someone else to make medical decisions on your behalf, a DPOA can help ensure that happens. You can also include instructions in your DPOA about what kind of treatment you want in case you become incapacitated and cannot communicate your desires.

The person you designate as your agent can manage your finances too. If you don’t have another trusted person in place who can assist with this important task, a DPOA makes it possible for someone else to handle financial matters on your behalf, including paying bills, filing taxes and more.

You may not need these powers at once but still want them available when needed. Unlike regular powers of attorney, which must be filed with the court and recorded with the Secretary of State’s office before they have any effect, durable powers do not need to be filed. This makes a Durable POA a great option if you want flexibility and peace of mind.

It helps Avoid Family Conflicts

Another benefit of having a durable POA is avoiding potential conflict among family members or friends who may disagree about handling your affairs.

Your loved ones need to know who can make decisions for you. This type of power of attorney gives them the authority to make those decisions without going through probate court.

In addition, if there’s any doubt about what you want to be done, this type of power of attorney can prevent family members from fighting over your wishes and making things worse than they already are by prolonging the process until a judge decides for them.

Avoid Delays in Probate Court

When considering a durable power of attorney, you want to think about probate court. They can help avoid the expense and delay of probate court proceedings in the event that you become incapacitated.

Although most people say that money isn’t important when it comes to their loved one’s well-being, it can be difficult for them when they have no idea how much money is available or how much money needs to be spent each month on bills and other expenses.

Someone You Can Trust

One last benefit of a durable power of attorney is ensuring that someone you trust will make decisions on your behalf. The alternative is having a court-appointed conservator, which you may not want.

When choosing an attorney-in-fact, it is important to select someone you trust. You want someone with the necessary skills to handle the responsibilities you assign. You should also have a backup plan in case your first choice is unable or unwilling to serve.

How to Find a Durable Power of Attorney

There are a few key steps to take to find the right durable power of attorney for you. First, find an attorney who specializes in estate planning. They will have the knowledge that you need to help you make the best decisions for you and your family.

You also want to find out how much it will cost and how long it will take to complete the paperwork. Lastly, it is essential to read over the documents carefully and make sure they are correct and accurate before signing them.

It is a good idea to look at the reviews and reputation of a durable power of attorney before finalizing your decision. For example, Rhodes Law Firm has an outstanding rating when it comes to its power of attorney services.

Need a Trusted, Durable Power of Attorney?

A durable power of attorney can be a valuable tool in estate planning. By appointing an attorney-in-fact, you can ensure that your affairs will be handled if you become incapacitated. This can provide peace of mind for you and your loved ones and avoid potential conflict among family members or friends.

If you’re looking for a trusted, durable power of attorney that you can depend on, we’re here to help. We’ve helped numerous families with their estate planning, and we can do the same for you. Contact our dedicated team of attorneys to get started today!

When to Have a Lawyer Look Over Your Business Contract

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If you’re like most small business owners, you probably don’t have a lot of experience negotiating contracts. And that’s okay, most people don’t. Actually, the majority of people shy away from business contracts because they seem too complex. Therefore, it’s important to be careful when signing any agreement, no matter how minor it may seem.

That’s where having a lawyer look over your business contract comes in. With a little guidance, you can understand the basics of what you’re signing. If you’re starting a business, and you’re wondering if you need to hire a lawyer, below are a few telltale signs that’ll give you a hint. Just keep reading!

You’re Not Familiar With Legalese

If you’re starting a business, it’s important to have a lawyer look over your business contract. Though you may be familiar with the basics of business law, there may be clauses in the contract that you’re not familiar with. A lawyer can explain the implications of these clauses and help you negotiate more favorable terms if necessary.

Additionally, a lawyer can help you draft a business contract that will better protect your interests. Before signing any business contract, make sure to consult with a lawyer to ensure that you’re getting the best possible deal.

There’s a Lot of Money or Property at Stake in the Contract

If you’re entering into a contract where there’s a lot of money or property at stake, it’s vital to hire an attorney to review the contract before you sign it. Attorneys have the skills to identify legal mistakes in the contract and make sure that it’s fair for all parties involved. This is especially important for small businesses that may be at a disadvantage when negotiating with larger companies.

By hiring an attorney to review your contract, you can protect yourself from legal mistakes that could cost you dearly down the road.

You’re Entering Into a Partnership or LLC Agreement

When going into a partnership or LLC agreement, you must consult with an experienced business lawyer to ensure that the agreement is properly drafted and that your interests are represented. A well-drafted business contract sets forth the rights and obligations of each party. It can also help to prevent disputes later on.

Furthermore, an attorney can advise you on the tax implications of your business arrangement and ensure that your business complies with all applicable laws. By consulting with a business lawyer at the outset, you’ll protect your interests and avoid costly legal problems in the future.

You’re Starting a Business and Need to Draft Contracts for Services

When starting a small business, it’s essential to have clear and concise contracts for all of your products and services. Doing so helps to protect your interests and guarantees that both parties understand the terms of the agreement. When drafting contracts, include key details like the scope of work, payment terms, delivery schedules, and other relevant information.

It’s also important to make sure that both parties sign and date the contract. This provides a record of the agreement and helps to prevent future misunderstandings. Drafting a well-crafted contract provides smooth sailing for your new business.

You Want to Make Sure That the Other Party Is Held to Their Contractual Obligations

When two parties enter into a contract, they’re each obligated to uphold their end of the agreement. However, sometimes one party may breach the contract, or fail to live up to their obligations. If this happens, the other party may want to take legal action in order to enforce the terms of the contract.

However, before taking any legal action, consult with an experienced attorney. An attorney can help to assess the situation and identify legal mistakes that might have been made.

Additionally, an attorney can help to negotiate a resolution with the other party or represent you in court if necessary. By consulting with a lawyer early on, you can increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome.

It Seems Too Good to Be True

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Get a lawyer to check out the contract before signing! A business contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties. Contracts can be oral or written, but it’s always best to get a lawyer to check out the contract before signing. This is because sometimes things that seem too good to be true probably are.

For example, an oral business contract may not be enforceable in court, or the terms of the contract may not be what you thought they were. If you are unsure about any contracts you are asked to sign, it is always best to consult with an experienced lawyer beforehand. This way, you can be sure that you are getting into a contract that is fair and legal.

Be Careful When Signing a Business Contract

As mentioned above, please make sure you fully understand the terms of a business contract before signing on the dotted line. Doing so could save you a lot of money, time, and hassle in the future.

At Rhodes Law Firm, our team of experienced attorneys can help you understand what you’re agreeing to and protect your interests if anything goes wrong. We have the skills and knowledge needed to back you up in any situation.

If you’d like to reach out, please contact us online or call us at one of our offices. We look forward to serving you soon!

Around the Web: Flexibility is key when it comes to your estate guidelines

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Conditions and stipulations can be a great way to ensure your estate is properly handled after your passing. However, if you are too controlling or there are too strict stipulations, this could actually hinder your plans. So how do you find a good balance between conditions and controlling? 


This Kiplinger article helps navigate this tricky area of estate planning. Often, people making their wills want to set ground rules for how their estate is used. Concerns may arise that your child, if left to their own devices, may deplete their trust fund too quickly. One way you can set boundaries without being too controlling is by utilizing the HEMS standard, allowing distributions to be made for health, education, maintenance, and support. This standard allows them to be supported in a practical way.


It’s important to keep flexibility in mind, since life is often unpredictable. Imposing strict standards, such as “distributions may be made to my child after they have their first child” don’t allow for any flexibility or unpredictability. Your child may face infertility issues, or choose to not have children for a host of reasons. This restriction may seem more like a punishment than a form of support. 


If you need assistance with creating guidelines for your estate, Rhodes Law Firm can help! Give our team a call today.

How Estate Planning Services Constructs a Lasting Family Legacy

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It’s never a pleasant conversation. It’s often filled with dread as the finality of death looms. Children in particular despise having this conversation with their parents, but it’s one that must be had.

Think of estate planning this way. You get to leave a lasting legacy for your children and for generations to come. Estate planning services help you protect your assets and your family’s future. Here’s how they do it.

What Is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of organizing your finances and property in anticipation of death. It’s a way to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of after you’re gone. Planning for the distribution of your assets after your death is a vital part of responsible financial planning.

Estate planning services help you to create a plan that takes into account your circumstances and goals. One of the most important considerations in estate planning is the selection of an executor. They will be responsible for carrying out your wishes.

The executor should be someone you trust to follow your instructions and make decisions in the best interests of your beneficiaries.

Another key component of an effective estate plan is asset protection. This is the use of wills and trusts and other legal mechanisms to safeguard your assets from creditors. It also prevents others from making claims against them.

By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can ensure that your assets are protected and that your family legacy passes on to future generations.

What Is a Family Legacy?

There are many different ways to define a family legacy. A family legacy is any property, real or personal, that passes down from one generation to the next. This can include homes, businesses, artwork, heirlooms, and even debt.

A family legacy can also take the form of intangible things like traditions, values, and knowledge. In some cases, a family legacy may be positive, such as a valuable piece of property or a thriving business.

However, a family legacy can also be negative, such as a history of mental illness or substance abuse. No matter what form it takes, a family legacy is an important part of one’s identity and should be treated with care.

Is a Will Not Enough?

While a will is an important part of estate planning, it is not the only tool available. There are many circumstances in which a will may not be the best option. For example, if you hаve have young children, you may want to consider setting up a trust to provide for their care and education.

A trust can also manage assets for disabled family members or minimize taxes. An estate planning attorney can help you determine which tools are best for your situation.

If you have a complex financial situation, or if you want to provide for someone who is not a direct heir, a trust may be a better solution.

An irrevocable trust cannot change after its creation. This means that once the assets go into the trust, they cannot be removed. This can be helpful in asset protection and estate tax planning.

Benefits of Estate Planning

While estate planning may seem like something that only wealthy people need to worry about, it is important for everyone. For one, estate planning offers peace of mind. Knowing that your affairs are in order and that your loved ones will be taken care of according to your wishes can help you enjoy your life more fully.

If you have a clear estate plan in place, it can help to avoid family disputes and disagreements about how your assets should be divided.

A well-designed estate plan can help to minimize taxes and other expenses, which can save your loved ones some money.

An estate plan can also help to protect your assets from creditors and others who may try to take advantage of your death.

These are just a few of the benefits of estate planning. If you have not yet done so, it is never too late to start planning for the future. Protecting your children, your assets, and your family legacy is an important part of responsible adulthood.

A Durable Power of Attorney (DPOA)

This is an important part of your estate plan. A DPOA is a document that appoints someone else to make decisions on your behalf. This is useful if you become incapacitated and are unable to make decisions for yourself.

A DPOA can manage your financial affairs, including paying bills and making investments on your behalf. They can also make healthcare decisions, such as choosing what treatments you receive or authorizing someone to speak with your doctors on your behalf.

While a DPOA is generally revocable, meaning that you can cancel it at any time, it becomes irrevocable if you become incapacitated. As a result, it’s important to choose someone you trust to act as your agent. For married couples or people in a long-term relationship, this is usually the spouse or partner.

However, for divorced couples or those in a second marriage, this may not be the case. In these situations, it’s important to have a conversation about your wishes and designate someone who you want to make decisions for you.

For parents with minor children, a DPOA can also designate a guardian if something happens to both parents. This is an important step in planning for the worst and ensuring that your children will be taken care of if something happens to you. While no one likes to think about these things, it’s important to have a plan in place in case the worst should happen.

Estate Planning Services You Can Trust

Estate planning is more than just a means to ensure that the distribution of your assets is in accordance with your wishes after you die. Properly planned estates can also minimize estate taxes, protect your loved ones from probate, and provide for long-term care needs.

At Rhodes Law Firm, we work with you to create a comprehensive estate plan that will provide for your family’s future and help you achieve your estate planning goals. Contact us today for a consultation and enjoy estate planning services that offer peace of mind and a solid legacy for your family’s future.

How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost?

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Have you just lost a loved one, and you’re not sure what to do next? Filing for probate can be confusing and overwhelming. There are many steps involved, and it’s easy to make a mistake that can cost you time and money.

Hiring a probate lawyer is the best way to ensure that your case is handled correctly.

A good lawyer will guide you through the process, answer your questions, and help you with planning for/protecting your children and protecting your interests.

If you are looking to hire a probate lawyer, you may be wondering how much they will charge. Probate lawyers typically charge by the hour, with rates varying depending on experience and location.

Read on to find out more:

What Is a Probate Lawyer’s Hourly Rate?

When someone dies, it’s important to have a plan in place for what will happen to their belongings. This may include hiring a probate lawyer. Probate lawyers specialize in the legal process of dividing up a person’s assets after they die.

If you don’t have a will or other estate planning documents, the court will appoint a lawyer to handle your estate and they will charge you for their services.

A lawyer can save your loved ones time and headaches if you hire the lawyer. Probate can be complicated and time-consuming, but with a probate lawyer, it doesn’t have to be.

How Much Experience Does the Lawyer Have?

The cost of a probate lawyer depends on how experienced the lawyer is and how complex the estate is. Lawyers who are more experienced will charge more than those who are less experienced.

If an estate is large and complex, it will take longer to resolve, so the lawyer’s fees will be higher.

However, many lawyers offer free consultations, so you should speak with a few different ones to get an idea of what they would charge in your case.

Is the Estate Complex?

The cost of probate typically depends on how complex the estate is. If the estate is small and easy to deal with, the cost will be lower. If the estate is large and more complicated, the cost will be higher.

There may be other factors that contribute to the total cost of probate, such as how many beneficiaries there are and how much time it takes to complete the process.

It’s important to talk to a probate lawyer to get an idea of what the total cost might be for your specific situation.

Will There Be Any Contested Issues?

Lawyers usually charge by the hour. The rate can vary depending on how complex the estate is and if there are any contested issues. You can expect to pay $100 to $500 per hour.

If the estate is large and complex, or if there are significant disputes among the heirs, costs can be much higher. In some cases, lawyers may charge a flat fee for their services.

This is more common when the estate is relatively small and there are no significant disputes among the heirs. Lawyers may also charge a retainer, which is an upfront fee that covers initial expenses and hours of work.

How Long Will the Process Take?

The process of distributing an estate after someone dies can be complex and time-consuming. This process is called probate. Many people choose to hire a probate lawyer to help them with this process.

These lawyers typically charge by the hour, and their rates can range from $100 to $400 per hour. In some cases, they may also charge a flat fee.

The total cost of hiring a probate lawyer will depend on the complexity of the estate and how long it takes to settle it. However, most people can expect to pay several thousand dollars for probate services.

What Are the Expected Costs?

The cost of hiring a probate lawyer can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate, as well as the state where the probate is taking place. However, it is usually between 1-4% of the value of the estate.

For example, if an estate is worth $100,000, then you can expect to pay around $1,000-$4,000 for a lawyer’s services. Keep in mind that this estimate may vary depending on specific factors.

What Are the Risks Involved in Probate?

When someone dies, their estate must go through the probate process to be distributed to their heirs. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, so many people choose to hire a probate lawyer to handle it for them.

Probate lawyers typically charge by the hour, and their fees can range from $100 to $500 per hour. In addition, there may be other costs associated with the probate process, such as filing fees, appraisal fees, and bond fees.

While these costs can add up, hiring a probate lawyer can help to ensure that the process goes smoothly and that your loved one’s estate is properly taken care of.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Probate Lawyer?

The death of a loved one is always difficult, but with a probate lawyer, you can have some help. Probate lawyers know all about the law and what needs to be done in the case of wills/trusts.

They can make sure everything is filed correctly and help in court. It may cost more money, but it can be worth it for the peace of mind you get.

How Can I Find a Reputable Probate Lawyer?

The cost of a probate lawyer can vary depending on the state you live in and how complex the estate is. However, most people will pay between $1,500 and $3,000 for a basic probate case.

If the estate is more complex, you may have to pay more. You can find a good probate lawyer by asking friends and family for recommendations, or by searching online.

Once you’ve found a few lawyers that you’re interested in, contact them, and be sure to ask about their experience and fees before making a decision and handing over durable power of attorney.

What Should I Expect During the Probate Process?

Making a will is important. It helps when someone dies. A person who dies wants things to go to the right people. This is called probate. The probate process can be hard, but with a lawyer, it will go more smoothly.

As you can see, the cost of hiring a probate lawyer varies depending on the experience and location of the lawyer.  For more information about probate law and the costs associated with it, check out our blog for more articles like this.