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Around the Web: Five Ways to Bulletproof Your Estate Plan

Blog, News

Taking care of your estate plan early on is a great decision, without a doubt. There’s really no such thing as starting early with this. However, sometimes in life we think we’ve got our “ducks in a row” and somehow something goes wrong.

In this article, you’ll find great ways to make sure that the above doesn’t happen to you and your estate plan, by essentially making it bulletproof:

  1. Have a pre-paid, pre-planned funeral
  2. Set up a family committee to manage your revocable trust
  3. Have different lawyers develop a plan for you and your spouse
  4. Don’t underestimate your life expectancy
  5. Match your lifestyle to your income in retirement

There are always nooks and crannies that many people forget about, or not even think about at all! Click here to read further, and to make sure it’s unstoppable!


To: Our Grandchildren, From: Your Grandparents


You’ve already designated amongst your children and siblings who receives your assets, but are having difficulty with what to leave your grandchildren. There are several ways to gift your assets to your grandchildren while making sure there are no misuse of funds. You wouldn’t want to leave them “x” amount of money for higher education and it be used for something else, right?

Here are some of those ways to make sure your grandchildren get the most out of your gift(s):
• Whether the grandchild attends a private school, or planning to attend college in the future, you can set up a plan to pay that school directly.
• If there are any medical expenses for the grandchild, you can set up those payments similarly to educational costs. Just be sure to pay the medical provider directly.
• You can set up an IRA or savings bond.
• Transfer money into a trust.

Your overall goal is to ensure that the money/assets you leave behind will be properly used and essentially not wasted. The perks for you (besides knowing your grandchildren will benefit from it) are that this gift-giving can decrease your estate size and tax. There also may be no gift tax!

To further learn how to get started and what the best route is for your gifting of assets, contact us today!

Around the Web: For the Blended Family

Blog, News

Estate planning is complicated as it is – sorting through and designating your assets to whomever. But picture a family where both spouses have been previously married with children. Now imagine this already-combined family having a child or more children together. It seems like things are beginning to look more complicated, right?

When a family is as complicated as this (regarding who gets what assets) it’s highly possible to cause hurt feelings and/or conflict.

Read on for the appropriate avenue(s) in which to make this process as stress-free as possible.

May is National Elder Law Month


Now that April showers have come and passed, and May flowers are blooming right before our eyes, we welcome National Elder Law Month!

The month of May was designated as National Elder Law Month back in 1987 by the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. In that time, there was an increasing demand for legal needs pertaining to the senior community, people with special needs, and their families.

As members of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Rhodes Law Firm is taking this time to increase community awareness, and to allow our team to assist you and your family with these common issues (but not limited to):

  • Tax Planning
  • Estate Planning
  • Medicaid
  • Medicare
  • Long-term Care
  • Social Security
  • Asset Protection
  • Estate and Trust Administration

Call our office to schedule an appointment, and please look through our list of provided services!

Around the Web: It’s Time to Think Further Ahead, Millennials!


Generation Y, or more commonly known as Millennials, are reaching the stages in life that include the start of their career, first day of college, buying their first house or car… Let’s just say it’s a lot of “firsts.”

You can imagine when the term estate planning reaches their ears, it doesn’t automatically turn into a priority; what happens is their face goes from normal to confused. Although understandable, it’s certainly a topic that its importance should really be explained thoroughly.

Think about it.

What if there’s a couple in a domestic partnership and something happens to one of them? If there’s not an estate plan intact, the surviving partner has little-to-no say in the matter of what happens to the other’s belongings or finances.

Even for the young families. What’s next if something happens to the parents? Who will step in?

Take a look at the sourced article for further insight on these scenarios, and spread the word that estate planning really shouldn’t begin at the age of 40 or 50, but sooner.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/03/10/millennials-dont-forget-estate-planning/98837054/

April = National Financial Literacy Month


As we all know, the month of April is more commonly known for its showers. In the finance world, however, it’s also known as National Financial Literacy Month! It’s a month dedicated to alert, educate, motivate and assist the public to cost-effectively establish and keep their financial and estate plans up-to-date, according to www.estateplanning.com.

They also point out three (3) challenges that Americans face in regards to their financial future, which is why we encourage everyone at any age and any stage of life to start planning:

  1. The majority of Americans lack the ability to adequately plan for retirement as most Americans over 65 are totally dependent on Social Security.
  2. It is estimated that we 120,000,000 Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan to protect themselves and their families.
  3. Many people mistakenly believe that because they are not “rich,” they do not need to do any estate and financial planning.

To help you get started on your financial/estate planning journey, please contact us. Each month we have in-person workshops, as well as full online workshops if you are not able to attend.

Source: https://www.estateplanning.com/event/April-is-National-Financial-Literacy-Month/

We have some exciting news!


In case you haven’t heard… we have an announcement!

As of January 1, 2017, J. Daniel Rhodes has become a partner in our firm. Congratulations Daniel!

Daniel Rhodes is an Augusta native, with strong ties to the community. In his practice, Mr. Rhodes primarily focuses on estate and probate law, as well as business planning and long-term care asset protection. Mr. Rhodes obtained a Bachelors of Business Administration from The University of Georgia in 2011. He went on to obtain a Juris Doctorate degree from the Charleston School of Law in 2014, where he focused on tax and estate planning law. During law school, Mr. Rhodes was the President of the Tax Law and Estate Planning Society for two years. He is a licensed attorney in both Georgia and South Carolina, and practices at both the Augusta and Aiken branches of the law firm. Mr. Rhodes is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA). Though Mr. Rhodes has only been at Rhodes Law Firm in his capacity as an attorney for two years, he has worked at the firm in one capacity or another for over ten years. Mr. Rhodes is a proud Eagle Scout as well as an active member in the Rotary Club of Augusta.

Estate Planning, Debt and Bankruptcy. Oh my!


Debt—most people have some sort of debt. That goes without saying some have more than others. Either way, it’s inevitable. What about bankruptcy? It’s certainly more common than you may think, and for several people it’s the best option. You’re probably wondering how do these factor in when you begin your estate planning?

Unfortunate events happen, but there’s a plan to make sure you “cover your bases” before anything like the ones mentioned do.

Estate planning needs to be your first step if you have a family, property and other assets. Depending on how you have your assets set up financially, these could be collected if you pass and leave behind debt, or if you file for bankruptcy. You’ll want to make sure to protect your assets to ensure your family receives what you wish to be passed down.

No one wants to go through a tough battle after hard times like bankruptcy, and especially death. There’s a way to make this process less stressful, and can you peace of mind.

Here are a couple of great readings to help guide you if and/or when these three worlds collide. When you’re ready to make that first crucial step, come see us for your estate planning.



Around the Web – 5 Long-Term Care Planning Lessons From ‘Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory’


Below is an article that we’ve found to be very helpful and informative regarding 5 key points on how we can learn about long-term care from Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory.

Click here to view the original article.

Recently, a close family friend emailed me about his long-term care insurance policy, expressing his frustration over yet another premium increase. Despite the rising cost, he still feels good about his decision to have a long-term care insurance policy in place to help protect himself and his family. The discussion brought to my mind one of the most powerful and iconic scenes in children’s literature. I am referring to Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (or Charlie and The Chocolate Factory).

If you are familiar with either of the two movies or have read the 1964 book, you will easily recall the scene.  It features Charlie’s four bed-ridden grandparents crammed rather uncomfortably into one large bed.  They appear to be reasonably content and can be seen knitting or napping or watching TV. All four of them are presumably unable to walk and must rely on the constant care of Charlie and his mother. The scene is powerful, depicting the severe physical toll of aging and the immense burden that providing ongoing long-term care can impose on a family. Although the imaginative setting is far from modern, the plight of Charlie’s decrepit grandparents can serve up a dose of reality that can teach us a variety of long-term care lessons for today.

1. Most people end up needing long-term care services.

In the movie, three of the four grandparents are in need of some long-term care assistance. This is strikingly similar to the often-cited statistic that 70% of those aged 65 and older will need some long-term care services during their lifetime. Not all of this care will take place in an institutional setting, and for many people, it will only be required for a few weeks or months. However, for some unlucky others, it could extend for years or even decades. As we age, the likelihood of needing long-term care services increases, so as our population ages, we will certainly see a burgeoning demand for long-term care services.

2. Care typically falls on family members.

Charlie and his mother end up being the primary caregivers for the grandparents. This too is very common and has been the case for years. Often it is the family members who step in to provide long-term care services for their loved ones. In fact, according to some estimates, family members provide nearly 80% of all long-term care services, and they provide it in an informal and unpaid manner.

3. The most common family member providing the care is a full-time working woman.

As in the fictional Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, not only do family members typically provide long-term care services, the burden of providing care tends to fall on full-time working women. The ongoing responsibilities can severely impact the female caregiver’s career, health, and finances. Many caregivers note that providing elder care impacts their own health over time, contributing to a vicious cycle in the United States.

4. Long-term care can create a huge financial burden.

Long-term care, even if unpaid and provided by family members, creates a huge financial burden on the family unit. The caregiver might not be able to work outside the home for enough hours per week to qualify for retirement benefits. She may not be able to remain in the workforce for an adequate number of years to help fund her own retirement. Caregivers may be called upon to help pay for medical supplies or food. According to an AARP report, family caregivers spend $6,954 annually in out-of-pocket costs. Long-distance family caregivers can spend even more, with an average out-of-pocket cost of $11,923 per year.  Topping the costs chart are institutional settings with average nursing home fees in some states reaching well over $100,000 a year in 2016.

5. Without a long-term care plan in place, you rely on luck or charity.

The family in Willy Wonka is clearly struggling financially at the beginning of the story, and there is little hope for a bright or financially secure future for them. But, through an amazing combination of luck and a charitable benefactor, the family is ultimately saved, at least financially.  The storybook ending serves as a stark reminder that in real life, failing to plan for the eventuality of long-term care leaves the financial security of a family completely up to chance.

What can people do to improve the picture for their future? The reality is that long-term care planning is one of those topics that people want to avoid because it requires them to imagine a time and situation they would rather not think about. However, for most people the eventual need for some type of long-term care will be unavoidable. When it happens, that is not the best time to investigate the options.  There is a real need to be prepared ahead of time. This could be as simple as talking to family members about providing care. Or it could require more advanced planning which includes establishing funding mechanisms for the possibility of needed care.  Long-term care insurance is specifically designed to cover long-term care costs and can be a great solution for some. However, for others, a hybrid insurance policy might be better, one that mixes both long-term care benefits and life insurance or an annuity payment. Or for some, self-funding will be the goal. For others, long-term care planning will require reliance on government funding through Medicaid, the primary payer of long-term care costs.

In the end, what most people need is a plan for long-term care. There are many long-term care financing options available today and new products continue to be developed. Each plan depends on your own specific circumstances.  But in all cases, the first step is to talk to your family and a financial advisor about what you want and what you can afford, and develop a plan together. Unless your plan is to share a bed with three other family members and cross your fingers that a wealthy candy mogul saves the day, take the next sensible step and put a long-term care plan in place.

Article by Jamie HopkinsCONTRIBUTOR for Forbes

Legal Planning Tips for Those Dealing with Alzheimer’s


As if estate planning wasn’t stressful enough, preparing for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be an exhausting process for everyone involved. Below are links that have been provided for you to make sure all of your bases (and your loved one’s) are covered for a less stressful and smooth planning.

To briefly summarize the basic advice that you’ll find within these articles, here are some for you to write down:

  • Begin planning as soon as possible.
  • Legal and medical experts encourage people recently diagnosed with an illness-particularly one that is expected to cause declining mental and/or physical health-to examine and update their financial and healthcare arrangements as soon as possible.
  • Wills, trusts, and advanced directives are available to ensure that the person’s healthcare and financial decisions are carried out.
    • This is where we come in to help.