Georgia is a great place for retirees to spend their golden years. We spend a lot of time thinking about what we’ll do during this time, but when it comes to planning for their heirs and beneficiaries when they are gone, many seniors haven’t put a solid plan in place. This is a result of many factors, but can lead to serious financial costs and time-dragging complications.
No matter what stage of life you’re in, the sooner you can educate yourself and take action when it comes to estate planning, the more your loved ones will benefit, and the more simplified the process will be for them to follow your wishes after you pass away or become incapacitated.
For adult children of elderly parents, if you aren’t aware of an existing estate plan in place, the sooner you initiate the conversation with your parents about their plans and wishes for the future, the more secure and enforceable that plan will be.
What happens when you fail to plan?
We get calls all the time from worried kids and spouses whose mother/father or husband/wife failed to plan for incapacity and now find themselves in a crisis. Unfortunately, we have also seen cases where family members take advantage of the cognitive decline or death of an elderly parent, and take control of all assets and accounts for their own purposes instead of following the wishes of the elderly parent.
Without an estate plan in place in Georgia, the probate process is complex— whether it comes to guardianship or conservatorship of an incapacitated adult, or handling the legal and financial matters after your death— It can be months or even years to settle everything. Additionally, that decision may not mirror what you would want for yourself or your family.
There are a couple of ways to deal with legal and financial issues that will arise, and make the process easier.
Selecting a Power of Attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf in the event of your death or incapacitation is a big step in the right direction. Since there are complications that may arise when it comes to working with third parties— like banks— that may not accept the documentation outright, a power of attorney alone will not give you comprehensive protection.
A living trust holds legal title to your assets. If you pass away or become incapacitated, then the person you’ve named as your trustee can take over and manage the trust for your benefit when something happens to you without going to court.
Your living trust holds all of your property. As long as you are alive and competent, you hold control of everything within it Upon your death or incapacitation, the person you’ve selected takes over management of your trust It’s a valid and seamless shift.
Making a solid plan for the future
A living trust is the best way to avoid probate. It ensures that your assets are available for your needs if you become disabled without going through the probate court’s guardianship/conservatorship process. It further assures that when you die, your family can distribute your estate in complete privacy, following your instructions, without the hassle of the legal process of probate. It’s easy to see that having a proper plan makes things easier for the family.
If you are ready to start, or refine the process of Georgia estate planning, reach out to the estate planning experts at Smith Barid to receive all that guidance you will need to have the peace of mind that your plan for the future is streamlined and protected.