What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the creation of a definite plan for managing your wealth while you’re alive and distributing it after your death. When we talk about an estate, we mean all assets of any value that you own, including real property, business interests, investments, insurance proceeds, personal property and even your personal effects.
Most of the people we meet have no estate plan at all or have an estate plan which will not fully protect their legacy or their loved ones. Estate planning is something none of us really like to think about, and it is something you may assume you don’t need if you are young or if you aren’t wealthy. Unfortunately, if you fail to plan for a death or incapacity, you and your family could end up in a difficult situation with legal issues when it is too late to resolve them.
Pyke & Associates, P.C. can make the estate planning process easy for people of all walks of life. Our legal team works with you to define what it is you want to happen or not happen in the event of your death or incapacity. We identify your goals for your estate plan and make use of the legal tools which provide the maximum protection for you in life and for your family at the end of your life.
Contact our Atlanta estate planning lawyers today at 770-507-2500 to find out about the personalized plan we can help you create and to get answers to general estate planning questions including:
- When should I make an estate plan?
- What should be in my estate plan?
- How can an Atlanta estate planning lawyer help me?
When Should I Make an Estate Plan?
That’s a great question. The answer is right now. Why? You are not promised tomorrow and life is very fragile.
It is a common misconception that estate planning isn’t really that important if you’re young or isn’t really that important unless you have a lot of money. Both of these are wrong and can be damaging.
How do you know if you are young? Most people base the answer to that question on their date of birth. Maybe you should base it on your “check out” date. If you are 30 and your “check out” date is 31 you’re pretty old. If you are 60 and your “check out” date is 90, well you’re fairly young. The point is you simply do not know when you will need the estate plan so it’s best to prepare it right now.
If you are young, you need an estate plan so your family doesn’t have to make difficult medical choices and deal with legal proceedings in a medical emergency. You also need to make sure you know what will happen to your children if you become unable to care for them.
If you don’t have a lot of money, you still have issues which need to be addressed by your estate plan. You may wish to take steps to protect the assets you do have in case you need to go into a nursing home, since nursing home care can be a huge financial hardship. You also don’t want to force your family to fight over assets if you pass away, and you need to address the end of life issues that could arise if you get sick or hurt.
The bottom line is, whether you are single, married, young, old, rich, poor, or anything in between, having an estate plan is beneficial to you and to everyone in your life who you care about. Making a plan isn’t hard with the right legal help, and the consequences of failing to plan in advance are too grave to take a chance.
What Should Be Included in An Estate Plan?
All of us face three principal obstacles in planning our estates:
- Living Probate (The expensive court proceeding to manage your estate if you are disabled and cannot make your own health care or financial decisions.)
- Death Probate (The expensive court proceeding to manage and distribute your estate at death.)
- Income and Estate Taxes (The taxes the government may demand as a result of your death. Tax rates start at 10% and rise to 45% depending on the type of tax.)
The specifics of your estate plan need to be customized and tailored to meet your needs. The estate planning attorneys at Pyke & Associates, P.C. carefully interview you to determine which legal tools and documents best fit your particular situation. Pyke & Associates, P.C. uses the Federal and Georgia law to help you put these tools to work to achieve the goals you set for your future and for your legacy.
Depending upon your situation, some of the journey of life issues which you may wish to address in your estate planning process include:
- You can unintentionally disinherit your children. How? What if you pass away and your surviving spouse remarries? What are your concerns if your spouse then passes away and the assets go to the new spouse? Or what if your spouse remarried and then there is a divorce? Would the new spouse get part or all of what you intended to go to your children and grandchildren?
- If you or your loved one has an incapacity will your estate be cannibalized by long term care or nursing home costs?
- What if your child inherits from you and then they get divorced? It seems you want those assets to NOT be a part of their marital dissolution?
- If your child inherits and then dies, do you want what you’ve left to go to the “in-law” or to your grandchildren?
- It’s important to create a plan for the care of minor children and to provide financially for minor children if something happens to you before your kids are grown.
- Should you use trusts to protect assets during your lifetime and to facilitate their transfer to heirs outside probate? Trusts can also ensure heirs do not lose their inheritance through bankruptcy, divorce, creditor claims, or irresponsible behavior.
- Should you have an incapacity plan to address who will make healthcare decisions for you, what kind of care you want at the end of your life, and how a nursing home will be paid for if you require care?
These are just a few of the different journey of life issues which your plan may need to address. Pyke & Associates, P.C. will assist you in ensuring you have done all you need to do to achieve security for yourself and your loved ones in the future.
How can an Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer Help Me?
Pyke & Associates, P.C. provides comprehensive estate planning services to clients in Atlanta, Peachtree City, Stockbridge, and surrounding areas. Give us a call at 770-507-2500 or contact us online to learn more.