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Estate Planning

According to a survey conducted by Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service provider, 61% of Americans do not have a Last Will and Testament.  Of households with children under 18 years of age, it’s 71%.  From the perspective of someone who helps people plan their estates, these numbers are staggering.  The reason is that most people without wills either believe they know what will happen to their estates after they die, or they do not know but assume the law will do what’s right.  In many cases, they are wrong on both counts.

When a person dies intestate (i.e., without a Will), he not only fails to exert control over how his estate is distributed, but he misses an opportunity to ensure the administration of his estate goes as smoothly as possible.  Wills are not just about naming who gets what.  They provide certain benefits and exemptions to often onerous obligations on executors and other fiduciaries.  Every person should have a Will, regardless of their family situation, because as in most cases the law is a poor substitute for decision making.

dreamstime_s_13505071The Libby Law Firm can help you plan your estate in a number of ways.  The most common estate planning instrument is a Last Will and Testament.  The Will is the centerpiece of an estate plan.  It nominates a person to manage your estate and directs that person how to distribute your estate.  Wills can be used alone or in conjunction with trusts, but they should never be omitted.

For most estate plans, a Will should be accompanied by a financial power of attorney (“FPOA”) and advanced healthcare directive.  A general FPOA authorizes a person to act on your behalf regarding any type of financial transaction.  This instrument is most useful in two situations: (1) you suddenly become incapacitated and need someone to be able to act on your behalf quickly, or (2) you are suffering from a long-term infirmity and need assistance with managing your regular personal finances.  Married couples usually give each other a power of attorney because they often have assets titled in their separate names over which the other has no authority.

An advanced healthcare directive serves two primary purposes: (1) it appoints a healthcare agent to make decisions for you in the event you are unable to make them for yourself, and (2) it directs your healthcare agent and provider with regard to end-of-life decisions (formerly addressed by an instrument called a Living Will).

Beyond the instruments mentioned above, there are a variety of different trust structures that may be appropriate for your situation.  Some examples are credit shelter and QTIP trusts (to help married couples take advantage of their individual estate tax credits), special needs trusts (to provide supplemental support for a disabled person while protecting her government benefits), and irrevocable life insurance trusts (to prevent the inclusion of life insurance proceeds in the taxable estate).

If you are interested in putting together an estate plan, please call our firm at 404-467-8613 for a consultation.  We know you are busy, and that planning an estate can seem time-consuming and exhausting.  We make the process very convenient and affordable.  Give us a call, and we’ll show you how.

1175 Peachtree Street, N.E.
100 Colony Square, Suite 1450

Atlanta, GA 30361

Phone: 404-445-7771
Fax: 404-445-7774
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