Savannah Estate Planning for Couples Marrying Later in Life

Couples who choose to marry later in life have different concerns than those marrying earlier, and a good Savannah estate planning lawyer can help you make the right decisions for your circumstances.  Each situation is a little different, but there are some fairly common topics that should be considered:

  1. Do the husband and wife have grown children?  If so, then the estate plans will likely need to include specific instructions regarding how inheritance will work.  This is fairly important to ensure that each biological and stepchild receives what the parent wishes, rather than allowing Georgia laws to supersede your desires.
  2. Does each intend to be the beneficiary of the other?  Older couples who marry may already have their own plans for their estates, and sometimes these don’t involve one another at all.  If spouses do not intend to inherit from one another, they will likely need a legal agreement that clearly spells this out.  Without it, spouses will almost always inherit, despite plans that were made to the contrary.
  3. Who will pay medical expenses?  If one spouse becomes ill, it may be the responsibility of the other spouse to help pay for medical expenses.  A prenuptial agreement can help to limit this, although Medicaid rules will supersede a prenuptial agreement when it comes to determining eligibility.
  4. Is one partner widowed?  Some older couples today have chosen not to marry because it can stop pension or social security benefits from a previous marriage.  This is something that should be carefully explored with your Savannah estate lawyer.
  5. Should you have joint accounts?  When older couples marry, it is sometimes recommended to keep assets separate.  This extends to bank accounts and titles on property.  Any assets that are in both names can go to the survivor, even if a prenuptial agreement stating otherwise was in place.

An additional role of the estate planning lawyer may be to help older couples uncover other areas of concern that are not obvious at first glance, such as updating old legal documents to reflect the new relationship and advising on tax and asset protection strategies for the married couple.

Finally, when it comes to administering the estate, older couples usually do best by choosing an independent trustee.  The passing of a loved one notoriously brings out the worst in people, so naming either your or your spouse’s child as the trustee can have unexpected negative consequences.  Your estate lawyer in Savannah can help you identify a good candidate or even recommend a trust company to keep your will or trust from being ignored or misused.


Planning for the Future With a Savannah Special Needs and Guardianship Lawyer

Parenting isn’t always easy, and it’s even less so when your child has a disability. We all have dreams of our children reaching full independence, but sometimes, this just isn’t possible. Our children may have needs that go beyond what others require, special needs that demand specific planning in order to make sure that the child is well looked after once the parents are gone.

In a nutshell, special needs planning in Savannah is the legal and financial plan to take care of a child, often an adult child, whose disabilities require that they have scaffolding in place to live a full, healthy life. These children may have physical, mental, or both types of needs that require additional care. As adults, these children may not be able to live on their own or gain employment, for example, and will need a comprehensive plan in place to assure a secure future.

Special needs planning is something every parent of a child with disabilities must individually consider, as a “one-size-fits-all” approach is not likely to work.  For example, a child may be in a wheelchair, but otherwise able to care for him or herself. This child may have great prospects, and as such, the plan may be relatively simple. There will be no need, say, for a guardianship of this adult child, as he or she is mentally fit to handle his or her own affairs and should be able to find gainful employment.

In other cases, however, the child may not be able to handle all of the details of adult life. Securing safe housing, paying bills, finding employment, and other needs may be beyond the scope of the child’s capabilities. In cases like these, a special needs and guardianship lawyer in Savannah can help the parents to formally define who will have control over the child’s assets and freedoms once the parents have passed away. A plan can also be put into place to safeguard a trust fund for the child to ensure a high quality of life.

Another important aspect of special needs planning is determining the transition plan once the child reaches adulthood. Some adults with special needs remain with their families; others move into group housing for adults who need extra care. Either choice may be right for your family, but determining what the future will hold for your child, and who gets to “call the shots” when you are gone, is a critical component of special needs planning.

A guardianship lawyer in Savannah can also help assist you in determining exactly what your child may need in the future to ensure proper quality of care. Likewise, by formalizing the details of who will have responsibility for your child and how their finances will be maintained, you can eliminate a lot of stress after you have passed away. Some families are disinterested in helping; others have people lining up to take care of their family member, but either way, having these details determined in advance is your best bet for taking care of your special needs child over the long haul.

Savannah Trust Lawyer Says, “Plan Now To Avoid Becoming A Burden Later”

Savannah trust lawyers help all sorts of people deal with the subject no one wants to talk about—what happens after you die. When your loved ones are grieving, it can be hard to devote proper time and energy to the details of your funeral and post-mortem affairs. If you plan some of this in advance, your children can be sure to respect your wishes, while also having the time they need to grieve.

One important issue to discuss with your children is how you want your body to be handled after death. Do you want to be cremated or buried? Do you want a large headstone, or something simple? If you are cremated, do you want to be in an urn or interred at a cemetery? Would you like a religious service, and if so, what kind? It may seem obvious to you what you would like, but sometimes your children may not know, and may end up fighting at a time they should be coming together to mourn.

Many people pre-pay their funeral expenses, so it is important to let your children know if you have. Trust lawyers in Savannah have witnessed times where there was a plot paid for, but the children didn’t know, and so paid for another!

What about your obituary? Trust lawyers in Savannah see cases where relatives are angry because the children got the details wrong in the paper. If you pre-write your own obituary, you can make sure that all of the details are correct, and that it says precisely what you want it to. It can be humorous, serious, or a little of both; if you write it, you control the message.

Have you written a will? You’d be surprised by how many fights happen once a parent passes away. If you want your mother’s china to go to one child and your father’s tools to go to another, be sure to put this in writing. Better yet, have your children over to talk about what each one may want when you are gone. It’s awkward, yes, but by finding this out and detailing it in your will, you can save a lot of fighting after the funeral.

What about a living will? This is one of the best uses of an estate planning lawyer. You need to have, in writing, what you would like to happen in the event that you are ill. Do you want to be resuscitated? How much intervention do you want? Do you want to be left on life support? Fights over this can divide a family, so knowing in advance what you want, and having it be on a legal document, can make things so much easier in a time of need.

Part of a Savannah trust lawyer’s job is to help your children to suffer as little as possible once you pass away. In order to make this happen, however, you need to be sure that they know what your wishes are for your funeral, for your assets, and for your body in ill health. By writing all of this down ahead of time, you can save everyone grief at a time when they need the space to mourn.

Savannah Estate Lawyer: How Long Does Your Will Need to Be in Georgia?

Any estate lawyer in Savannah will tell you that every person needs a will. Sure, the wealthy may have more assets to distribute, but pretty much everyone still needs to have their last wishes laid out in a legal document.

Even if it is just to keep the peace within your family, a will is necessary. If you want a specific item to go to a specific person, you need to have this in your will or else the laws in Georgia may allow someone else, such as a parent or sibling, the right to that item if he or she doesn’t care to respect your wishes. But how long does the will need to be?

Estate lawyers in Savannah will tell you that the answer is, “however long it takes.” In order to be legally binding, a will needs to have certain attributes. Once all of these are contained in the document, the will is by definition, “long enough.” So, what does your last will and testament need to include?

  • The will needs to state that it is, in fact, your will. You can’t just say that in the event of your death you want all of your assets to go to your cousin. The document should say this, of course, but written into the document must be wording that specifically names this document as your will.
  • Your will must list an executor. The executor is the person who is in charge of making sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
  • The will should state where any property should go, and when, in the event of your death. It can be left as a lump gift, or can be divided in small increments, but it needs to list where the assets will be going.

Of course, that isn’t all that makes a will legally binding. Laws vary from state to state, but pretty much everywhere there are a few givens that you can count on:

  • You must be at least age 18, or otherwise legally responsible for your own property and affairs.
  • You must be of sound mind, and able to make legal decisions about your property and interests. Estate lawyers in Savannah will tell you that if there is any reason to think you may not be legally able to make your own decisions, a will can be contested.

To make sure that your will isn’t contested, you should have witnesses sign the document, and also consider having it notarized. Estate lawyers in Savannah feel that the additional small fee for a notary is well worth the peace of mind you will have knowing that your will is unlikely to be successfully contested, as this person can state with assurance that you were, in fact, of sound mind when you signed the document.

How long a will needs to be really depends on the amount of property you wish to detail in the will itself. Otherwise, as long as it states that it is a will, and the executor is named, it can be as long or short as you want it to be. Estate lawyers in Savannah have seen wills that are a single paragraph, even; it’s all about how detailed you wish to make it.