Many people make the mistake of assuming that a written will is all they need for their estate plan. Unfortunately, the truth is you can’t rely solely on a will to tie up all of your loose ends when you’re gone. While it is essential, a will simply isn’t enough.
This article is one in a series from Forbes contributor Bob Carlson that highlights the most frequent mistakes people make when planning their estate. The first mistake most people make? Relying only on a will.
“A complete estate plan includes key documents that might be needed before your passing, such as a power of attorney and advanced medical directive,” Carlson writes. “These documents empower one or more people to make decisions and take actions regarding your assets or medical care when you aren’t able to.”
Another thing to consider when planning your estate are trusts, which are very flexible and can protect your assets while maintaining privacy. Trusts, according to Carlson, often surpass wills as key documents in estate plans.
It’s easy to procrastinate planning your estate, but it can become an issue in the case of a sudden health crisis. Don’t wait until it’s too late – contact us today to get on the right track with your estate planning.
We thought this video was too funny not to share and thought some of our clients might just relate!
4 Key Benefits Of Having Your Estate Attorney Set Up A Trust
Planning your relative’s estate can be a difficult and emotional topic.
This difficulty, along with the amount of legal understanding involved make it necessary for you to hire an estate attorney.
When you contact an estate attorney, make sure to have them put together a trust. Forming a trust is one of the best ways to handle an estate, and estate lawyers are the most qualified to put them together.
If you’re on the fence about this and want to learn why you should have an attorney set up a trust, start with these four points below.
Your Estate Attorney Can Help You to (Legally) Avoid Taxes
One of the foundational principles of wealth is minimizing taxes whenever you can.
This remains every bit as true when dealing with handling an estate. You’ll want to avoid heavy estate taxation when getting an inheritance so that you can use the money however you need.
That’s where an estate attorney comes into play.
These lawyers will help you to shield the estate from taxes. They will first and foremost take an all-encompassing look at the estate and then determine how much tax liability you owe.
From here, they’ll work diligently to reduce the tax bill altogether.
Helps Prevent Litigation
While going through the estate process is also matched with grieving, it’s important to know that it’s not uncommon to get sued during this time.
People might contest the delegation of a will, which leaves you open to months or years of more litigation.
When you have an estate attorney put together a trust for you, the likelihood of having it contested is dramatically reduced.
Hashing out the legal matters on the front end in the form of a trust makes the important details ironclad and much harder to contest.
You Will Get Your Inheritance Faster
The last thing you would want is to have your inheritance tied up as the details are hashed out.
When you have a lawyer a trust, the inheritance process is streamlined, which is good for you and everyone with a claim to the estate.
This is especially important if you plan to invest your inheritance or otherwise use it.
For instance, many people use their inheritance to pay off student debt, open their own company, invest in stocks and other investments or become a homeowner for the first time.
Your lawyer will also be able to advise you on these matters of investment and the implications that come with each option. They can also point you toward financial experts in their network that can be helpful.
These Documents Are Of Life Changing Importance
Because these legal matters literally change the course of lives, it doesn’t make sense to go about them alone.
Having an attorney on your side that handles estate trusts lessens the burden tremendously. This is why estate attorneys like Audrey Rhodes, of Rhodes Law Firm, PC, work diligently to create these trusts.
If you’re interested in a trust and don’t know where to start, get in touch with us today.
At Rhodes Law Firm, we would like to share with you our newest member to the team – Colby Bouchillon, Associate Attorney!
Colby is a native of Aiken, South Carolina. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of South Carolina – Aiken in December 2013. She continued her education at Emory University School of Law in Atlanta to earn a Juris Doctor degree in 2017.
Colby is a member of the Augusta Bar Association and is licensed to practice in Georgia. Her areas of focus are:
In her free time, you can find Colby rooting on the Atlanta Falcons or spending time with her nieces and nephew!
You’ve created your will, and everything is in place. That’s great; you are ahead of the game more than you may realize. However, what if your will isn’t the only document you need to ensure your end-of-life wishes?
Documents to Consider
This article from USA Today suggests that there are other documents you may need to consider having to make any other areas are covered that lead up to what is, essentially, inevitable. Amy Florian, chief executive of Corgenius, provides readers with additional documents to have on hand:
- A living will
- POLST, which stands for “physician orders for life sustaining treatment”
- Having a power of attorney for healthcare/healthcare proxy
- Appoint a durable power of attorney
- DNR/DNI orders
- Diminishing capacity letters
- Organ donor designation
- Life insurance
- A personal property memorandum
- A digital assets memorandum
- A collection of relevant information
To take the burden off the family, Florian recommends to have the necessary documents in one place.
For more information on how to get started, contact us today!
Like most people, you probably have two main lists: Wants vs. Needs. You have your bills, weekly trips to the grocery store, car maintenance appointments, and so forth. However, you also have your eye set on a new boat, or a more luxurious car with all the bells and whistles even though your current vehicle is in perfect condition. Even now, don’t you think we have a tendency to put those wants before needs? But what if you had a lot more money?
Where to Start With Your Newly Acquired Inheritance
Let’s say you’ve recently received an inheritance, and you’re not exactly sure how to invest that money wisely. With the lists of things you want and need to pay for, you might find yourself in a tricky spot on what to put your money towards first. You don’t want to blow through the money that’s been left especially for you, right?
CNN Money released an article this month giving tips about (especially those who have or will be receiving an inheritance) how to prioritize the things that honestly should be paid first.
- Pay off student debt faster
- Use the money for a down payment on a house
- Open a business
- Save more for retirement
- Invest for long-term goals
Have you ever looked at a Medicaid form, Long Term Care insurance costs, or tried to write your own will and asked, “What does this mean?”
Probably so. There are many areas when planning for your future that can become confusing and frustrating. With that said, you run the risk of potential errors that can really make things difficult down the road. This is why we recommend hiring an elder law attorney.
For those who aren’t entirely sure of what what that is, elder law is an area of legal practice that specializes on issues that affect the aging population.
Elder law attorneys are here to help with these complex situations. Maybe you’ve gone through a divorce, remarried, have a business, or a spouse that will need long term care in the near future. Tackling these areas on your own can not only be confusing, but highly overwhelming. Hiring an elder law attorney will help ease the stress, avoid potential errors, and when it’s all said and done – give you peace of mind.
Are you and your family ready to start planning ahead in the most effective way? Feel free to contact us to make an appointment. All of us at Rhodes Law Firm are here for you and your family’s needs.
Wouldn’t you rather have an attorney with exceptional credentials and reputation handle some of your life’s most important documents? We would like to believe so. Here is great news for those on the search: Mr. Audrey C. Rhodes, Jr. is the highest rated estate planning attorney in the Augusta, Georgia area!
Education and Experience
After receiving his Bachelor of the Arts from Augusta College (now Augusta University) in 1974, he went on to study law at the University of Georgia and New York University. As you may know, he and his son Daniel currently practice law in both Georgia (office in Martinez) and South Carolina (office in Aiken).
We recommend you choose the right attorney to handle your estate planning, wills, living trusts, and the like. That’s why you should choose Rhodes Law Firm.
“Start saving for retirement today!”
What feelings arise after reading that?
For some Americans, positive responses or emotions will follow. However, the rest of full-time American workers – not so much. CareerBuilder sent out a report recently that shows 78% still live paycheck to paycheck. So, the big question here is: How is one supposed to save if there’s no money to actually save?
Ways to Save For Retirement
With discipline and an eye-on-the-prize mentality, there are ways to save for those who live paycheck to paycheck:
- Trim Your Spending
- Change Your Spending Perspective
- Find a Side Gig
- Control Your Debt
- Use Your Employee Benefits
- Open Your Own Savings Vehicle
Follow the link to read the full article on how this can help you get on track with planning for your retirement!
Once you’ve got this in order, you can contact us to get your Estate Plan started!
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when it comes to estate planning is to assume you do not need to plan.
Estate planning is all about deciding in advance and naming whom you want to receive your assets after your death.
Deciding early on how to distribute your assets will not only keep you in control of everything you’ve worked hard to achieve but also minimize squabbles among family members.
Estate planning is not only for the wealthy. It’s for everyone who wants to make sure their family and loved ones are adequately provided for, should the unthinkable happen.
Here are the five estate planning benefits you should know.
1. Peace for Everyone
You probably have heard horror stories of warring family members, where the war began soon after the death of a major pillar of the household.
Such situations arise when family members cannot reach a consensus as to who should be in charge of finances, real estate, and more. Such squabbles bring hatred among family members and are in most cases arbitrated in a court of law.
But where an estate plan exists, family squabbles are avoided.
Estate planning allows you to choose who should control finances and other assets after you die. This goes a long way towards settling any family disputes that may arise and also ensures your assets are handled the way you intended.
2. Avoiding Probate
When you die, your estate goes through a process that involves settlement and distribution of your assets in accordance with the terms of your will. This is known as probate and can be a lengthy and costly process.
The longer the probate process takes, the more costly it becomes, leaving your loved ones with less than you intended. This explains why most people try to avoid probate in any way possible.
Even with an estate plan in place, your beneficiaries will have to go through a type of probate to distribute those assets. However, not every probate is coordinated by the courts.
Some of the decedent’s property is not considered part of the estate, and therefore, not distributed through probate courts. These include trusts not established by a will, retirement accounts, insurance policies and jointly owned property.
The major ways your property can be settled outside probate courts include putting the property in a trust or by joint property ownership.
Avoiding probate coordinated by courts is one of the key estate planning benefits.
3. Transfer Property to Your Loved Ones Quickly
When you die without an estate plan, your family and loved ones could wait for months to get anything from you.
Estate planning helps to avoid the big delays that can put a financial strain on your loved ones.
With a good estate plan, your family gets all the resources they need to pay for outstanding medical bills, and for anything else that may come up.
4. Reducing Estate Taxes
Estate planning not only seeks to protect your loved ones from financial strain, but also from big tax hits.
By transferring your assets to your heirs, you also put your focus on creating the smallest tax burden for them as possible.
Without an estate plan, the amount your heirs will owe the state could be considerably high.
5. Protecting Beneficiaries
One of the key reasons people prepare an estate plan is to ensure their beneficiaries are taken care of.
If the beneficiary is a minor, you’ll need to designate a guardian and a trustee in the will to oversee his or her wellbeing. Without such a plan, again the court will step in to determine who will raise your children.
If the beneficiary is an adult and is bad at managing finances, you can set up an estate plan that will protect them from making bad decisions.
Wrapping Up on Estate Planning Benefits
Without an estate plan in place, there could be a long-lasting impact on your family and loved ones. And not only for your loved ones but for you too.
Suppose you become incapacitated or suffer a stroke, who will pay your bills or manage your healthcare. A power of attorney designation and a well-drafted living trust package can help to protect you and your family.
If you have any questions on estate planning benefits or need help to update an existing plan, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.