5 Tips from a Savannah Will and Trust Lawyer

There’s a lot that goes into estate planning, so it’s not a particularly simple process. That said, there are some simple things you can keep in mind when gearing up to work with your Savannah will and trust lawyer.

Estate Planning Tip #1: Make a Will

When it comes to estate planning, one of the most important things you can do is create a will with your lawyer. This document will leave written instructions of your wishes. While you may assume that everyone already knows what you want, that doesn’t mean that the courts will care. When you have a will, you’re making it legal.

Estate Planning Tip #2: Talk About It

While laying your wishes out in a will is incredibly important, it’s also a very good idea to talk to your loved ones about what you’ve included in the will. That way, everyone is aware of your wishes, and it will be much less likely that something will be misinterpreted later. A Savannah will and trust lawyer can help direct this conversation if it’s something you don’t feel comfortable doing on your own.

Estate Planning Tip #3: Review Your Beneficiaries

About once a year, go back over your assets and make sure that your estate plan is up-to-date. This includes reviewing insurance policies, retirement funds, and any accounts that have a beneficiary; along with your will, any trusts, etc. Circumstances change, and it’s entirely possible that someone listed on an account is no longer a good choice as a beneficiary for a variety of reasons.

Estate Planning Tip #4: Make a List

With so many different things to track, it’s a good idea to make a list of the information that your loved ones will need after your death. Include things such as where to find important documents, how to access safe deposit boxes, passwords for online accounts, etc. Financial records and personal documents such as birth/marriage/death certificates will also be helpful to your heirs. Make sure that they know how to contact your will and trust lawyer in Savannah for further information.

Estate Planning Tip #5: Create a Health-Care Directive

Alongside your will, a health-care directive (often called a “living will”) is a must. This document gives your family and health care providers directions to follow regarding your medical treatment. Should you be unable to speak for yourself due to incapacitation, the health-care directive can answer many questions regarding the types of treatment you do and do not want. It also lists the person that you want making additional medical decisions on your behalf.

Obviously, these are just a few of the issues that you’ll want to discuss with a Savannah will and trust lawyer, but having them in mind gives you a good place to start so you can move forward with confidence.

But I Don’t Live on a Georgia Estate!

There’s this mistaken notion that estate planning lawyers in Savannah often have to confront that the only people who need their services are the very wealthy. After all, the word “estate” conjures up images of mansions nestled among perfectly-manicured gardens alongside a garage filled with priceless automobiles. The average American simply doesn’t have an “estate,” right?

Actually, the average American does have an estate. While we may have grandiose ideas of what an estate is, your lawyer is far more concerned with the legal definition. In the eyes of the law, your “estate” is everything that you own. This includes real estate for sure, but any other assets are also a part of your estate.

When you die, your estate is subject to a variety of legal obligations, and working with an estate planning lawyer in Savannah is the best way to minimize the impact of these obligations. The one-bedroom home in the city that you bought when you retired certainly isn’t the same as a sprawling mansion on a hillside, but it is still an estate. And, without legal guidance, the person with less is liable to actually have more to lose.

That’s because the ultra-rich person living in the lap of luxury has probably already worked with estate planning lawyers to set up a variety of trusts and other tools to protect his or her property. By maxing out gift allotments, making the right kinds of charitable donations, etc. this person can minimize the impact that taxes will have on the estate later. And putting assets into trusts allows for family business to stay private rather than going through the probate process, which becomes a part of the public record.

Fortunately, estate planning lawyers aren’t just for the wealthy. “Regular” folks can—and should—utilize their expertise by employing many of the same techniques, although maybe on a smaller scale. Just because they offer the same types of services doesn’t mean that a lawyer has to have a huge price tag, either. The fact of the matter is that a good estate planning lawyer in Savannah will end up saving you many times over the initial cost of hiring a professional.

Finding the right estate planning lawyer in Savannah should involve a bit of research. Take a look around the web, for example; but also listen to what friends and family have to say. How did they feel about their experience with a particular attorney? Would they recommend that person? Why or why not? Having a prepared list of questions to ask as you compare lawyers will also help you in narrowing down your options. And, you’ll want to take advantage of a free initial consultation, if available. This gives you a no-strings-attached opportunity to meet the different lawyers in person so you can get a feel for their style and whether or not you think you’d enjoy working together.

If you would be interested in meeting with an estate planning lawyer from our Savannah office for a complimentary consultation to find out how we may be able to help you, please feel free to call us at (912) 352-3999 and mention this article.

How To Make a Will Legal In Savannah, Georgia

Will lawyers in Savannah are privileged to work with all kinds of families in order to plan for and protect their futures. There are many tools that can be used to this end. Probably the most famous of them all is the will. We’ve all seen the dramatic readings in movies and soap operas.

Aside from being a useful plot device on the screen, wills serve many other really crucial functions. Will lawyers in Savannah are full of information about how best to use a will for a specific situation, but it can be a good idea to have a little background on your own.

Types of Wills

For example, did you know that there are actually three kinds of wills? The self-proving will is the only kind that really meets the legal requirements of a will. It is written and signed and has been properly witnessed. A “holographic will” is one that’s been written by hand and doesn’t have any witnesses. Something like this might come about, if you’re alone and realize you’re about to die and write out a will. There’s very little chance of this kind of will being valid. The third type is the “oral will.” That is when someone orally states their wishes. Again, there’s little chance of an oral will being upheld.

Will Requirements

In addition to being self-proving, there are a number of requirements that a will needs to meet to ensure that it will be valid. In the movies mentioned above, the will usually starts out with the phrase “being of sound mind and body.” What does “sound mind” mean, though?

In order to be of sound mind, the person creating the will must understand what a will is and be 18 years of age, although there might be considerations made for an emancipated minor. Likewise, the individual must know that he or she is making a will and must understand the relationship between oneself and those providing care. You can help clarify that you are of sound mind by stating within the document that you understand that it is, in fact, a will.

The will itself needs to do one or more of three things. It needs to list who inherits specific items, it needs to appoint guardians for minor children, and/or it needs to state what happens to property that isn’t specifically named in the will itself. It will also name the executor in charge of taking care of the estate and carrying out obligations and wishes. Additionally, it needs to be signed, dated, and attested by two or three witnesses, usually people who are not related to the person creating the will.

Smoothing the Transition

The most obvious purpose of a will is to let your executor know what to do with your things, but there are other purposes, as well. For example, it simplifies the probate process. This might not seem like that big of a deal, but when you realize the time, expense, and effort that you loved ones could end up going through, it just makes sense to ease that process. A good will’s lawyer in Savannah can be a big asset in making that happen.

Setting Up Your Will in Savannah

If you don’t have a will or want the peace of mind knowing that the will you already created is actually valid in Georgia, we invite you to call our Savannah will lawyers to schedule an appointment. Our initial consultations are normally $300, but we will waive that fee with the mention of this article. Simply call (912) 352-3999 to reserve your space!

Michael Jace’s Kids Spend 4 Painful Hours In Police Custody Following The Death of Their Mother… A Savannah Guardianship Lawyer Explains How To Protect Your Own Kids From Child Protective Services If Something Happens To You

Much to the public’s shock and surprise, actor Michael Jace, best known for his role in the ‘The Shield,’ was charged with murder following the untimely death of his wife in May.

According to reports, Jace called 911 on himself after allegedly shooting his wife in front of his small children.  Besides the obvious trauma that the children faced, family members are up in arms that the kids were forced to spend four painful hours in the sheriff’s office while police sorted out the situation, rather than being placed in the care of loved ones.

Following Protocol

As unfortunate and terrible as it sounds, what most parents do not realize is that if something happens to them, whether it be a car accident or a heinous crime (as in this case), without TEMPORARY GUARDIANS named, the police have no choice but to take your children into custody until authorities can decide where they should be placed. As Savannah guardianship lawyers, we see this happen all the time.

Please understand that the authorities are not taking these actions to be mean or cold. They have protocol to follow and keeping temporary custody of your kids is routinely part of the deal.

Taking Back Control

Yet as parents we all know that the police station (or Child Protective Services) is the LAST place your children should be if something happens to you. Your kids will likely be upset, shocked, and confused, and desperate to be in the care of someone they know and trust.

Even if you have a will, it’s simply not enough to avoid this situation.

What you must do is take one extra step to legally name temporary guardians who can take short-term custody of your kids following your death or incapacity.

Documentation of your short-term nominations must then be given to family and friends so they can act on your behalf and ensure your child(ren) never spend one second in the care of strangers if something happens to you.

Don’t Wait To Protect Your Children

Naming legal guardians is something that’s easy to do, inexpensive and can save your kids from a tremendous amount of confusion and heartbreak if the unthinkable happens.  So if you haven’t done so already, talk to your Savannah guardianship lawyer about legally naming BOTH permanent and temporary guardians for your kids.  It’s worth every bit of time, effort and expense to take care of this critical task.

What You Should Know about Your Parents’ Estate Planning in Savannah

Talking to older or retired parents about their estate plan isn’t necessarily something we look forward to, but elder lawyers in Savannah have seen first-hand why it’s so important. Of course you don’t want to think about your parents’ death or to come across as insensitive or greedy. On the other hand, though, ignoring these important conversations tends to make things significantly more difficult and expensive down the road.

Is there a Plan in Place?

There are several things that you should know about your parents’ estate plan, the first of which is whether or not they actually have one. If not, you’ll want to start looking into elder lawyers in Savannah to get the process started. Not only will an elder lawyer help with wills and trusts, but they can also help fund retirement, assist with senior living options, and much more.

Who Is the Executor?

Once it’s been established that there is an estate plan on record, it will be helpful to know who has been named as the executor. Because parents don’t always share this information in advance, it can come as a blow to those not chosen. Instead of waiting until feelings are already raw, knowing in advance gives everyone time to accept the decision, not to mention the parents have the opportunity to explain why they made the choice they did.

Any Surprises?

Speaking of explaining choices, your parents may have asked their elder lawyer to include things in the estate plan that aren’t immediately understood by the heirs. For example, perhaps one sibling is given real estate and another is given cash. By discussing the reasons behind these kinds of choices, the parent can make their reasoning apparent rather than leaving everyone to guess later. This is an excellent way to avoid hurt feelings and familial drama later.

Where Is the Information?

If your parent became incapacitated, would you know where to find their healthcare directive? If you needed to pay the mortgage or car payment, would you know where to send the money and how much? Would you even know what accounts to access? And, if your parent should pass away, would you know where the will was, how to access a safe deposit box, or what funeral home to call?

In order to do any of these things, you need to know where to find your parents’ legal documents. A fireproof safe is a reasonable place to keep them if they’re in the home, just make sure that you (or the person designated by your parent) has the combination or key to the lock. Insurance policies, deeds and titles, and similar documents can be organized into a binder to make them easier to work with when the time comes. Mom or dad’s elder lawyer will be able to help in determining what needs to be included in this binder.

Talking to your parents about this kind of stuff isn’t easy, but it is so very important. It will save considerable time, effort, and potentially hurt feelings later if the family is able to work with a Savannah elder lawyer and get things organized now.