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Legally Speaking: What to Know About Charitable Planning and Giving

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charitable planningDid you know that in 2018 about 63 million Americans participated in some kind of volunteer work?

Yes, the spirit of giving is still alive despite more difficult world conditions. Charities in the USA are supporting disaster relief work, rehabilitation work, and in many cases providing free education to those that need it.

Have you thought about how you could help a charity meet people’s needs? One way is by sharing your wealth via charitable planning.

What does charitable planning mean and how can you get involved? Did you know it could give you significant tax benefits? Why not read on to find out.

What Is Charitable Planning?

For many people, charitable planning is a basic part of financial planning for the future. As progress through life, we start to consider how we will use the money and assets that we have accrued up to that point.

A person may choose to share their wealth by means of scheduled periodic gifts, such as annual gifts. However, for many, charitable planning means that they create a plan regarding how their wealth will be distributed to charities that they select after their death.

If you want to make such a plan, where should you start?

How Do I Start?

The first step in making these arrangements is to select the charities that will benefit from your assets in the future. You may want to choose a charity that you have been supporting for some time. In other cases, you may see a need within society and want to address that need by donating financially to a charity that works in that field.

However, after you have selected the charity that you want to give to, the next step is deciding how much you will give. If you are choosing to give a financial gift posthumously, you will need to decide how much or which assets you will give to family members as an inheritance. Following this, you can assign assets or funds to your chosen charities.

There are generally two types of gifts that you can give as part of charitable planning. Lifetime gifts and Planned gifts. Each has its own implications regarding tax. What are the differences between these?

Lifetime Gifts

When a person gives a Lifetime gift, they stand to benefit from significant tax savings during the year that they give the gift. This may include an income tax deduction and perhaps other savings.

Among the types of gifts that you can give include real estate or appreciated assets such as stocks and shares. Should you give this type of gift you may be able to avoid paying tax on the appreciation of the asset.

As the name suggests this is part of charitable planning that involves a person giving before they have passed away.

Planned Gifts

Many incorporate planned gifts as part of their financial planning for old age. Generally, a person plans to give these types of gifts after they have passed away.

When making a planned gift a person decides to give assets or finances to a trustee. The trustee or person that will ensure that the funds reach the person or charity at that time.

In other cases, a person may personally assign part of their wealth to a charity as a term of their personal will. For example, may choose to assign a charity as a beneficiary of their life insurance.

Many favor the latter as it ensures that they can still benefit from their assets for the duration of their life. However, after the person passes away, they are delivered to the owner’s preferred destination.

Despite the fact that the assets will transfer to the charity after death, the owner may well still be able to benefit from income tax deductions during their lifetime when making these arrangements.

What Kinds of Giving Is Possible?

What vehicles can a person use to ensure that their assets and finances are transferred to their preferred charity? Here are a few examples:

  • Charitable Remainder Trusts
  • Charitable Gift Annuities
  • Private Foundations
  • Donor-Advised Funds

As mentioned, a person may also choose to make a charity the beneficiary of a Life Insurance policy or IRA and retirement plan.

As you can see there are many different routes that a person can take when planning to provide long-term support to a charity. Each person will need to analyze their own desires and financial situation before selecting the one that meets their needs the best.

However, each person needs to remember that charitable planning involved planning. This means that unless the correct documentation and agreements are put in place ahead of time, the gift may not be transferred as the owner wishes.

How to Benefit from Charitable Planning Now

If you are currently in a higher tax bracket than expected, you likely want to ease your tax burden without receiving less money. In this case, you could consider using charitable planning to accomplish this.

By giving in advance to your selected charity, you lower your eligibility for tax. Should you choose to select a charity with a donor advised program, the money may stay with the charity until you direct, to a reasonable degree, how they will use it. Perhaps this will be for a cause that is particularly close to your heart.

In this way, you continue to earn the money, enjoy giving it to a worthy cause, and then can direct who it helps.

Making the Best Charitable Planning Arrangements Possible

If you are planning the future of your estate, small decisions can make a great difference. Starting early when considering who can benefit from your material wealth is vital. It can help you to make charitable planning arrangements that have the maximum effect on the beneficiary.

If you would like to learn more about this, we would be happy to help. We leverage our years in the financial and legal sectors to help our readership to make wise decisions. Why not contact us or check out our blog to find out more.

How to Legally Start a Small Business

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start a small businessChoosing to start a small business is both exciting and challenging, but there are many legal aspects that arise when you start. Once you determine what your small business services and target market are, as well as constructive a business plan, you will want to ensure that you follow all the necessary legal steps to launch a compliant, profitable and successful small business.

Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta offers business law services to our clients in Augusta and across the CSRA. Rhodes Law Firm is devoted to the practice of planning and protecting the assets of your business. Below, Rhodes Law Firm provides helpful tips and requirements to ensure that you’re legally starting your small business the right way.

1. Do your own small business research

The first step to starting your own business is to research the process and ask yourself very important questions before jumping right in.

  • What are my small businesses goals?
  • Am I providing goods or services?
  • Do I want to hire employees or be a solo entrepreneur?
  • What financial requirements are present and what capital do I have available?

While you’re answering these questions, you’ll gather information and learn more about the legal processes of starting a small business. Each individual has different needs for their small business and there is not a specific one-size-fits-all legal solution to starting a business. For the best results and to ensure that you are starting your small business legally and on the right foot, contact the business lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta and let us assist you in your small business legal matters.

2. Determine the structure of your small business

As an independent professional starting a small business, you need to be aware of federal tax obligations from income, self-employment, estimated, employer and excise taxes. Once you establish your specific business structure, that will determine your federal tax obligations as well as the forms you use to report these taxes.  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides more information regarding these taxes and forms.

When creating your small business, these are some options to consider when determining your businesses structure.

Sole Proprietor:

Many independents begin their small business creation journey as sole proprietors. For tax purposes, you generally operate under your personal social security number, but you can apply for a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) for your business by filing an IRS SS-4 and asking for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) as your TIN instead of using your personal social security number. The business is generally run under your legal name. If you want to give the business an alternate name, you’ll register a Doing Business As (DBA) to state the name you intend to give your business. This process lets your state or local government know the name you are operating your business under. Specific DBA registration rules vary from state to state. You may also apply for a Federally registered business trademark or trade name.

Limited Liability Company (LLC):

Originally designed to protect owners of a business from certain business-related liabilities, the LLC structure has since become popular for independents due to its simplicity yet strong legal protections of a corporation shielding your personal assets. LLC is the next step above a sole proprietorship.

S Corporation

S Corporations are also referred to as an S-Corp and this is a business structure that has received the Subchapter S designation from the IRS. According to the IRS, S-Corps are considered by law to be a unique entity, separate and apart from those who own it. With this structure, subject to similar exceptions as described above for LLCs, you have the limited legal liability (separation of personal assets from your business) of a separate legal corporate entity as well as the separate tax entity. Provided the owners are eligible to make and make a timely election with the IRS, the profit from your business is reported under a separate tax return filing for 1120s but the taxable profit passes through to your personal tax return on form 1120 K-1. Thus, there is generally just a single level of tax.


C Corporation:

An attractive option for the savvy independent professional, C-Corps make owners shareholders. A C-Corp has the same status that Fortune 500 businesses hold—they are corporate entities separate from their owners. In the case of an individually owned C-Corp, you are not just the owner of your company, but the majority shareholder. Because the corporation is a separate legal entity, it is an individual taxpayer in the eyes of the IRS. While this structure is one of the most complex business arrangements available, it is also the most sophisticated, making it an attractive option for independents.

Making sure that you choose the right structure for your small business is very important and you want to make sure that you’re creating your business the right way from the foundation and up. To ensure the best results when starting a small business, consider contacting the business lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.

3. Choose and Register your small business name

If you are starting a small business and choose to file as a Sole Proprietor, then to register your business name you’ll register a “Doing Business As” (DBA) or “Fictitious Business Name” (FBN). This process lets your state or local government know the name you are operating your business under. This registration doesn’t provide trademark protection, but it does allow you to create and use the name you want for branding purposes without having to incorporate. It also does not constitute a legal entity or provide any legal protection to the Sole Proprietor.

If you don’t register a DBA as a Sole Proprietor, the name of the business will default to the name of the owner’s legal name. For those who are filing a legal entity, an application must be filed with your state for either Articles of Incorporation of Articles of Organization. Whether you choose an LLC, S-Corp or C-Corp, you will need to file a name for the company.

If you are planning on providing online services, then you may want to consider getting your business name trademarked. A DBA or incorporated business name will not offer brand protection in the 49 states where your business is not registered. While trademarking is not a requirement, it will provide stronger protection for your brand. This process involves applying for a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you do want to pursue a trademark, start by conducting a thorough and comprehensive search to make sure the name you want to use is available.

For the safest and most legal way to ensure your small business is registered, contact Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta and allow our business law experts to register your small business with the State of Georgia.

4. Secure your required business permits and licenses

No matter your small business and the products and services you offer, more than likely you will need to obtain the required business permits and licenses. Federal business licenses are required for any business involved in any sort of activity that is supervised and regulated by a federal agency while state licenses will vary.

Make sure that you obtain and secure the correct and required business permits and licenses for your small business by contacting the business lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.

5. Create a compliance plan

Even as a small business owner, you could be subject to the laws and regulations that apply to large corporations. These include advertising, marketing, finance, intellectual property and privacy laws. For companies that have employees, there are additional state and federal regulations that may need to be followed situationally.

Additionally, small businesses must ensure that they are free and clear of contractor misclassification concerns. Not only is this a threat to the small business itself, but also to its clients. Make sure that you’re taking the appropriate steps when creating your small business to mitigate your risk by consulting with business law experts at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.

6. Protect your small business with insurance

If you have decided to start your own small business as an independent professional, then you are responsible for ensuring the legal and financial wellbeing of your consultancy. Remember that you are your business and any legal or financial problem that arises will directly affect your company and you. It’s crucial to starting a small business that you protect your business against the risk of liability losses.

There are different types of insurance that you can protect you and your small business with. Depending on the industry, the size of your business and the types of prospective clients you expect to work with will all determine what’s the best insurance for your small business.

General Liability Insurance:

General liability insurance is often necessary for independents. This insurance covers a wide range of incidents, including accidental damage to a client’s property, claims of libel or slander and the cost of defending lawsuits.

Errors and Omissions Insurance:

Errors and omissions insurance, also known as professional liability insurance, provides protection in the instance that a client incurs financial harm due to an error or omission. In other terms, it’s a failure on your behalf to perform an integral part of your responsibility on a project.

Home-based Business Insurance:

While an insurance policy for a home-based business doesn’t apply to everyone, it’s relevant for independents who choose to work out of a home office. Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover losses sustained out of a home office, but an insurance policy for a home-based business can provide the protection you and your clients need.

Are you ready to start your small business legally and the right way?

Starting a small business can be one of the best decisions of your life. The exciting challenge of creating a small business and watching it become successful is one of the most rewarding moments for an entrepreneur. However, ensuring that your small business continues to grow and builds a strong clientele base is a realm of uncertainty that requires a leap of faith.

If you’re ready to start your own small business, then hopefully the tips and recommendations above help steer you in the right direction. If you want to discuss business law and creating your own small business, contact the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta and let us help you elevate your business ideas and expectations the legal way.

Around the Web: Estate Plans and Elections – How Are You Affected?

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With the election coming up, it may be a good time to review and work to implement any changes necessary to your estate plan. This article by The National Law Review suggests that while no major changes would take place if Republicans are in control of the White House, Senate, or House of Representative. However, if Democrats take control of all three, there would likely be a reduction in the current federal gift and estate tax exemption of $11.58M.

These possible changes do not mean that everyone needs to do something now to prepare. Everyone’s own situation is different and you may not be affected at all. If you would like to find out more and review your estate plan with experienced advisors, contact Rhodes Law Firm today. You can expect a tailored plan for your unique situation.

Should You Hire a Probate Lawyer?

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probate lawyer augustaTrying to delegate and figure out the estate and the probate process can be time-consuming, overwhelming and expensive. If you are currently having issues or are dealing with probate, contact the probate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta and let us assist you. At Rhodes Law Firm, we are committed to our client’s best interest throughout the probate process and making sure we do everything in our power to make it as simple and worry-free on your end as possible.

Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta provides key information on the probate process and some tips to consider when you’re hiring a probate lawyer.

What is a probate lawyer?

A probate lawyer is a lawyer who specializes in matters related to a deceased person’s estate. They have a wide range of responsibilities, which includes the following:

  • Guiding individuals through the probate process
  • Advising the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) of an estate
  • Representing beneficiaries if they become involved in lawsuits related to the estate
  • Assisting with challenges to the validity of the deceased’s will

Should you hire a probate lawyer?

If you are struggling to deal with the matters related to your loved one’s estate, then it might be in your best interest to consider hiring a probate lawyer, like the probate attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta. A probate lawyer can provide a variety of services to you related to the probate process and your loved one’s estate. 

Below are some of the common issues and obstacles that can arise when dealing with probate court:

  • Someone contested the will

If another beneficiary has contested the will or is planning to do so, then it is a good idea to get a probate lawyer on your side as quickly as possible. If anyone contests the will, it will instantly drag out the probate process and will put you at risk of losing whatever you’re loved one intended to be left for you.

  • There are split assets

If split assets are a part of an estate, then the probate process could get extremely complicated, especially in estate plans with intangible assets. If you’re dealing with an estate that has split assets, it is best to hire a probate lawyer that can help navigate the division of these assets and ensure everything is handled in a fair manner.

For the best probate and estate lawyers near you and in the Augusta area, contact Rhodes Law Firm and let us handle your split asset complications in the estate you’re dealing with.

  • The estate doesn’t qualify for simple procedures

The probate process is almost always a guaranteed headache, and some probate processes are much more complicated than others. Depending on the size of the estate, it could qualify for simple procedures and you can wrap things up relatively quickly. However, if you are in a complicated probate court process dealing with an estate, you’ll likely want to hire an attorney, like the probate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.

  • The deceased has a lot of debt

If your loved one passed away with a significant amount of debt, the estate will be used to pay off those debts. These types of probate issues can be tricky to navigate on your own, so you’ll likely want to consider hiring a reputable probate lawyer, like the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.

An experienced probate lawyer at Rhodes Law Firm will help ensure that everything is paid off and can even negotiate your deceased loved one’s debts to ensure you and the other beneficiaries receive as much from the estate as possible.

  • The estate contains a business

If a business is a part of the estate, then you will likely want to hire an attorney to sort everything out. There is substantial expertise and experience needed when you’re dealing with the process of appraising, managing and selling a business, especially if the owner passed away.

If the estate your dealing with contains a business, you should consider contacting the probate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta. We are experienced in dealing with estates that contain businesses and will work to ensure you receive what you deserve in the wake of your loved ones passing.

Should you hire a probate lawyer?

If any of the above situations applies to you and the estate you’re concerned with, it is probably in your best interest to contact the reputable and experienced probate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta. However, if you are not in the Augusta area, below are a few things to look for when hiring a probate lawyer.

  • Consider the experience of the probate lawyer

If you are in the Augusta area, then you are able to contact the experienced probate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm. Always ensure that you are hiring a probate lawyer with a track record of success and extensive expertise in dealing with probate court and estates.

  • Request a consultation

Most law firms, including Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, offer free consultations before you agree to work with them. This is the opportune time to determine whether or not the specific probate lawyer is a good fit for you and what you need.

  • Read their reviews

Before you jump into anything, read the reviews and find out how other people felt using a specific law firm. Networking and determining how other people felt about their experiences will give you an extra security blanket when deciding on which probate lawyer to hire.

As you can tell, the probate process is a complicated and tricky situation that doesn’t have a set-in stone, cookie cutter method to fix it. Each estate is unique and requires an experienced lawyer who understands probate, estates and getting things done quickly, like the probate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta. Keep all this information in mind when selecting a probate lawyer to devise and delegate your loved one’s estate. If you want to hire a probate lawyer from Rhodes Law Firm, contact our office and request a free consultation regarding your estate.

Why You Should Consider Long-Term Care Planning

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long-term care planning

No one likes to think of a time when they might need assistance or long-term care, so planning for this possibility in life often gets put off and forgotten about. Most people first find out about long-term care planning when they or a loved one needs care, but by this time, it’s too late to plan and prepare. At this point, usually options are limited because of the lack of information and time as well as the immediate need for long term care services. 

Planning ahead for long-term care allows you to have more control over your future and give you peace of mind for any possibility that may arise. The lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta are committed to providing our clients with long-term care planning services that they are happy and comfortable with. Don’t let fear and procrastination stop you from planning for long-term care in your future. The earlier you start, the more options and protection you have with the long-term care planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm.

Why you should you look into long-term care planning?

Planning ahead for long term care is important because there is a good chance you may need some type of long-term care services if you live past the age of 65. Roughly about 70% of people over the age of 65 require some long-term care services and the likelihood of you needing these services increases with age.

Another good reason to talk with the long-term care planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta is so that you can understand everything regarding long-term care for when you need to make decisions for you and your future. Discussing long-term care planning with the attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm will expose you to the available service options in the area and community, what special conditions apply for receiving services, what the services cost and what payment options apply to desired long-term care planning services. Having this information helps ensure that you will have knowledge and an understanding of the options when you need long-term care and it makes it more likely that you will have more control over how you receive long-term care planning services when the time comes.

Having a clear understanding and basic knowledge regarding long-term care planning services is important because the cost of these services often exceeds what the average person can pay from income and other resources. By looking ahead and planning for long-term care now, you can save your assets and income for uses other than long-term care. 

Long-term care planning with Rhodes Law Firm means that you won’t leave your family or loved ones in a difficult situation to make hard decisions. When you decide to discuss long-term care planning with the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, there is a greater chance of being able to leave an estate to your heirs since it is less likely you will use up your financial resources and assets paying for long-term care. In the long run, that means less emotional and financial stress on your family and an improved quality of life.

Another main reason that many people choose to discuss long-term care planning for the future with the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm is the independence they feel choosing their own options. Your choices for receiving care when you need it is an easier pill to swallow if everything was taken care of by you beforehand. Your choices are important, so deciding exactly how you want your long-term care services is an advantage that many people appreciate.

Why most people don’t want to think about long-term care planning

There are a lot of reasons that people don’t want to plan ahead for long-term care. Usually the main reason is the natural tendency to avoid thinking about becoming dependent on others for your care and everyday life. Other reasons include misinformation about the risks of needing care and a lack of knowledge regarding long-term care and the payment options.

Many people don’t like to think about getting older, I mean who would? No one wants to think and plan for the day of when you develop a disability, become less independent or need someone to help you with personal care. However, many people don’t realize that the chances of needing long-term care once you get past age 65 are very likely. On the other hand, some people find it too difficult to raise these questions with their loved ones because of the difficulty it can be exploring plans and options. But long-term care planning is important and will provide peace of mind you deserve.

Another common misunderstanding is how expensive long-term care is and how it is paid for. A lot of individuals do not realize that health insurance, Medicare and/or disability coverage do not pay for most long-term care services. It is best to speak with a long-term care planning attorney, like the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, to discuss your options and decide the best option regarding long-term care and your future.

Is long-term care planning something you should check on?

If you are nearing the age of 65, it could be in your best interest to speak with an attorney at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta to discuss your long-term care planning options. Although thinking about the future and the possibility of needing assistance and care is tough, it could help and make both you and your loved ones lives emotionally and financially easier when the day comes. Be prepared for the future possibilities and get the peace of mind you deserve with the long-term care planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm. 

Around the Web: Planning Your Estate in a Pandemic

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Planning your estate is essential in normal circumstances. Add in the uncertainty and risk that come along with a pandemic, and it really is a wise move to have your affairs in order. This article highlights that the suggestion of planning your estate now isn’t just based on the issues of morbidity, as many survive COVID-19, but if you require hospitalization or if you fall ill, it may bring you peace of mind to know everything is settled.

While estate planning can be complicated, it doesn’t have to be. Some helpful documents to get started, as listed by the Emporia Gazette, are:

  • Financial power of attorney – This would give someone of your choosing the authority to conduct your financial affairs if you are unable to do so
  • Last will and testament – choose how your assets are distributed and appoint an executor to oversee the distribution
  • Living trust – allows you to leave assets to heirs without probate, also provides more flexibility in regards to how you disperse your assets
  • Health care surrogate – should you become incapacitated, this person can act for you regarding your medical care
  • Living will – allows you to specify end-of-life treatments that you do or do not want

The process of estate planning or updating requires time, with notarization and witnesses necessary. During a time of quarantines and social distancing, those things may be more difficult to accommodate than usual. It is best to act sooner rather than later, and you can be content knowing that if the worst does happen, everything is already settled and in place.

Call Rhodes Law Firm today to get started!

10 Essential Estate Planning Tips

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estate planning

Most American adults do not have a will or a plan in place in case of a tragedy. The death of both parents in an accident can leave children’s fate left to a judge and your assets distributed the way a court deems fit and not by your wishes. Even in the even that a tragedy occurs, and you’re incapacitated, others will decide your healthcare options.

Having an estate plan in place can help you be prepared in the event of an unforeseen tragedy. If you die without a will or estate plan in place, state law determines where your assets are distributed. The attorney’s at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta help assist you in establishing an estate plan and protecting your hard-earned assets the way you want for when you can’t decide. 

Below are 10 tips to estate planning that the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm think you should know.

  1. It’s never too early to start planning

  • The first tip to estate planning is simple… research. If you’re reading this far, then you’ve already taken initiative to decide if you should create an estate plan for your future.

    Death is unavoidable, and excuses aren’t going to keep it from happening. No one knows exactly when their time is but being prepared and taking park in an estate plan built for you by the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm will provide you the peace of mind you deserve. Don’t allow pride and misconceptions to leave your estate and heirs broken and with nothing while also working through all the probate court hearings that follow. 

    If you want to start planning your estate, contact the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta and allow us to help you prepare for your future. Planning your estate includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Taking inventory of your assets & liabilities
  • Determining your beneficiaries
  • Deciding who will manage the plan
  • Deciding who will be your power of attorney & healthcare surrogate
  • Deciding who may be your children’s guardians
  1. Don’t draft documents yourself

  • Are valid & sound according to Georgia Law
  • Accurately reflect your wishes & inventory
  • Correctly define your intentions for the treatment of yourself & the disbursement of your property 

    The entire plan is crucial for deciding your health treatment and ensuring your assets are protected when you are unable to do so. If you do not draft the form correctly or understand certain clauses, it will cause errors for you after you’re gone when you can’t change them.

  1. Talk to your significant other about estate planning

  • Discuss the possible outcomes with your significant other for what would happen if you pass on before they do. If you are married, most likely guardianship of your shared children and all of your property and finances will transfer to your surviving spouse unless otherwise noted. 

    Things become more complicated if you have children from multiple partners. If this is the case, you should seek professional advice or counsel from the estate planning attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta

    Plan for the possibility that both you and your spouse will pass and discuss who should inherit your children and property. The conversation may be difficult to have, but it’s worth having to protect your property and hard-earned assets in the event of a tragedy.

  1. Establish who gets what

  • After consulting with the estate planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, your estate plan should account for the following:
  • All property (personal & real)
  • Assets
  • Bank accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Anything in your name 

    Once you take note of all your property and assets above, you will then decide who the beneficiaries are of those things. Guardianship of children must be awarded if there are surviving minors. Establishing who gets what in your estate plan ensures that your property and assets are distributed exactly where you want.

  1. Choose exactly how your estate should spend your money

  • Be specific when allocating funds. Decide if you want money spent on funeral ceremonies, donated to charities, inherited directly or a mix of all. Whatever you want in your estate plan, the lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm will make sure your wishes are taken care of. The money in shared bank accounts and trusts will remain in control of the joint owners but will be subject to their creditors and yours. 

    Other funds and assets may also distribute through trusts or a will. The questions you want to answer when it comes to disbursing finances are:

  • What finances need addressing?
  • Who receives them?
  • How exactly will they be distributed?
  • When will the beneficiaries receive these assets?
  1. Minimize estate & income taxes

  • Taxes can be avoided or minimized by consulting an estate planning attorney at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta. An experienced attorney at Rhodes Law Firm can direct you to the most beneficial methods of distributing property to maximize your financial savings. There are plenty of opportunities to ensure that beneficiaries receive the highest possible percentage of their intended inheritance. 

    If you fail to talk to an estate planning attorney before tragedy strikes, it could result in your hard-earned money and assets being spent on services after your death. It’s your family and inheritors who suffer at the expense of no estate plan in place so protect them and your estate while you still can.

  1. Seek professional guidance

  • Seeking help from the right professionals will save you time and money when it comes to planning your estate. Consulting with an estate planning lawyer at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta, or from financial planners and tax experts, will expose you to strategies and estate planning tactics you were unaware of.
  1. Plan for more than just asset distribution

  • Estate planning at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta consists of more than just asset distribution. The estate attorneys at Rhodes Law Firm will discuss power of attorney for managing your finances during incapacitation and in the case of death, durable power of attorney. Rhodes Law Firm will also consult with you on healthcare surrogate documents which appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf, guardianship of minor children and living wills for specific wishes that need completion on behalf of an individual. 

    There is so much more to think and plan for when it comes to your estate other than just inheritance. Ensure that your children and finances are in good hands be deciding now how your estate will be handled and distributed upon your passing.

  1. Avoid probate as much as possible

  • Probate is the court process through which a will is proven. Trusts generally avoid probate and thus save your estate money and other benefits. Probate court costs are very expensive, and probate can drag on for years. Avoid the headache and fees of probate court all together by establishing an estate plan with the estate lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta.
  1. Plan your memorial

  • One hardship that family and friends must overcome while dealing with the loss of a loved one is trying to decide how to plan the memorial service. After your death, your family will be grieving and the planning that goes along with the financial burdens of a memorial service can be difficult for your family to endure. 

    To help prepare your loved ones for the days when you are no longer with them, it is encouraged to plan your services in advance. You will be able to dictate the ideal ceremony for yourself while giving the ones you care for most the comfort of not having to wonder what’s best.Rhodes Law Firm in Augusta is dedicated to ensuring our clients have peace of mind when it comes to planning their estate. At Rhodes Law Firm, we want you to be informed and your family, assets and property to be protected. Contact the estate planning lawyers at Rhodes Law Firm and allow us to assist you in helping prepare for your future.

Around the Web: Stop Avoiding Estate Planning


It’s an uncomfortable topic, it’s difficult to think about, and it’s not exactly how many people want to spend their day off. However, it is absolutely necessary. Estate Planning is essential to preparing for the inevitable and ensuring that your loved ones do not have any unavoidable stress on them during a very difficult time. It is understandable why many choose to avoid this process, and this article lists a few of the more common reasons and also lists some helpful things you can do right now to make things easier should something happen.

The three most common excuses for avoiding estate planning are: too busy, too complicated, and too superstitious. There are a few things you can do at this moment that are simple and easy and will help take the burden off your loved ones in the event of an emergency or unexpected death. First, share passwords to all accounts and services. In addition, let your family know who should speak for you if you cannot communicate yourself and what you would like done in a medical emergency. Thirdly, make a financial aggregation of all assets and money you have and also your debts. The final thing you can do is create a will and power of attorney. We know, it’s hard to think about, but this ensures your assets go to the right people.

If you would like any assistance with planning your estate or creating your will, please give our experienced and knowledgeable team at Rhodes Law Firm a call today.

AROUND THE WEB: Avoid creating family friction with your estate plan

Blog, News

Losing a parent is often one of the most difficult times a family can face. Many times, it can result in friction between siblings. There are simple ways to help avoid this, however, such as deciding early how property should be sold or maintained. This article elaborates on specific steps you can take now to help keep the peace during a difficult time for your loved ones. Below are some ideas and suggestions to consider when making your estate plan.


  • Find a Real Estate Attorney with Experience and Referrals – It’s important to work with someone who understand the needs and wishes of retirees. Find someone with plenty of experience in the field as well as satisfied clients.
  • Produce an Overview of Your Financials – One easy way of helping your beneficiaries simplify the process is to create a simple overview of what you own and where. This minimizes any possibility of skepticism. This overview should include a list of all assets, liabilities, and insurance policies, as well as contact information for all insurance and legal professionals you have. It would be a good idea to include usernames and passwords for any accounts or websites.
  • Communicate with Your Family Now – Once you have the above steps in place and completed, it is vital you communicate with your family to prevent any miscommunication in the future. Discuss your estate intentions and legacy items that are important to you. Explain who your executor will be as well as let them know where the important documents are kept.


If you are ready to meet with an experienced and reputable estate attorney to begin your estate planning process, call Rhodes Law Firm today!

How to Change a Will or Trust and Why You Should

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how to change a will

Last Will and Testament Document Ready to Sign. Last Will Document and Fountain Pen Closeup Photo.

For reasons that are not entirely clear, the number of Americans making wills is dropping. Less than a third of Americans currently have a valid will, according to statistics.

Even those that have a will may not have their affairs set in order. There are certain circumstances under which it is necessary to change your will, or at least advisable to do so.

If it’s been a while since you made a will or trust, you should inform yourself about when it might be a good idea to make changes to it.

Read on to find out how to change a will or trust.

Wills & Trusts: What’s the Difference?

Wills and trusts are both estate planning tools. You can use either a will or a trust to distribute your assets, or you can use both.

The main difference between the two is that a will does not take effect until you die, while a trust takes effect as soon as you make it.

When Might I Have To Change My Will or Trust?

Making a will is an important and commendable step in one’s life. However, it is unfortunately only half the battle. Most people will have to alter wills or trusts several times in their lives.

The following are some circumstances in which you should consider changing your will.

Changes in Your Family Situation

If you’re arranging the distribution of your assets, chances are you’re leaving the majority of your estate, if not all of it, to members of your immediate family. Therefore, it makes sense to change your will or trust when the structure of your family changes.

This might come about in the case of a new birth or an untimely death. However, most often, it relates to the spousal relationship.

In many states, a marriage or divorce will immediately render a previous will void. Even in those states where it doesn’t, you should make a new will anyway.

It is especially important to make a new will if you remarry after getting divorced.

Death of Beneficiaries

If someone you name in your will or trust dies before you, it is usually a good idea to change the document.

It should be noted that the death of a beneficiary will not necessarily make a will invalid. The rules vary from state to state, but in many cases the gift will simply pass to the heirs of the deceased person.

A person’s heir or heirs will usually be their wife, their children, their parents, or their siblings.

Changes in Your Assets

Imagine you won the state lottery tomorrow. Whatever your will says would probably be largely irrelevant, as it wouldn’t account for the fresh pile of cash now sitting in your bank account.

This is obviously an extreme example. However, assets almost always change over the years.

Whether you purchase new property, start making more money at work, lose money in an investment, or just spend a percentage of your savings, the amount of assets you have is probably changing all the time.

Therefore, you should check your will or trust every few months to ensure that what you’re bequeathing is consistent with what you actually have.

Also, if you gain or lose a large quantity of assets, you should change your will or trust immediately.

Change in Location

If you make a will in one state and subsequently move to another, your will may not be valid in the latter state.

The rules on this vary from state to state. If you’re unsure about whether your will is valid, it’s always best to consult an attorney.

Changes to the Law

Various laws that are relevant to wills and trusts change quite frequently. These might rules in relation to tax, power of attorney, or long term care benefits. Advanced health directives are also relevant.

These laws are numerous and complex. If you’re not sure whether a legal change affects your estate plan, it’s always best to ask your lawyer.

How To Change a Will or Trust

There are a number of ways in which you can change an existing will or trust. The best method for you will depend on the extent of the changes you wish to make.

A New Will or Trust

If you want to make sweeping changes to your will or trust, or you haven’t changed it in a long time, you may be better off to just start from scratch.

This will invalidate any previous wills or trusts you may have made.

A Codicil

A codicil is similar to an addendum. Whereas an addendum merely adds to a will or trust, however, a codicil changes a pre-existing element of one.

These are used where there is only one change to be made, or a few minor changes. Codicils are quicker and easier to implement than brand new documents.

Once drawn up, a codicil is attached to your existing will or trust as a secondary document. Codicils must be witnessed and executed in the same fashion as the original will or trust.

A Personal Property Memorandum

This is similar to a codicil. It also takes the form of an additional document that is attached to your original will or trust and makes binding changes to it.

However, this method is only available to you if you included a personal property memorandum when you first wrote your will or trust. In this case, you can remove the existing memorandum and replace it with one that reflects your updated intentions.

A personal property memorandum is used by those who wish to leave specific pieces of property to specific beneficiaries, rather than dividing their estate up equally.

For instance, if you wish to leave your car to one of your children and your art collection to another, you would specify this in your personal property memorandum.

What Happens If I Die Without Making a Will?

Where someone does not have a will when they die, they are said to have died intestate. The way in which your assets are distributed will depend on your family situation and the laws in your state.

Generally, your estate will be divided up among your heirs, with priority given to your spouse and children, followed by your parents and siblings.

If no suitable heir can be found, the ultimate beneficiary is usually the state.

Making Sure Your Family Are Looked After

Nobody likes to think about life after their own passing. However, this is no excuse for not having arrangements made in relation to your affairs, especially if you have a family that will need to be looked after when you’re gone.

For those that already have one, knowing how to change a will or trust is hugely important. You need to be able to make adjustments if some unexpected occurrence should change your state of affairs.

If you’d like to make a will, or have us review or make a change to an existing one, contact us today.