Estate planning is not just for the rich and famous and it’s not just for seniors. Anyone over the age of 18 can benefit from having some basic estate planning documents, especially if they are married and have children. Below we’ll discuss why estate planning is for everyone and not just the wealthy.
Estate Planning Documents – Last Will and Testament
Estate planning is built on the foundation of your last will and testament. As a newly married couple or single individual, you may not think that you have anything of value. But you probably have an automobile, a house, and certainly a bank account. If something unfortunately happens to you, you’ll need a will that declares who will receive all those things.
If you think that everything you own will automatically get transferred to your parents without going through probate, you are sadly mistaken. Probate without a will is called an administration. If you want to make sure certain individuals receive your belongings without much hassle, you need to have it written in a will.
If you are married in the State of Georgia and you don’t have a will, your husband or wife isn’t necessarily guaranteed to inherit all your property. That’s why it’s important to declare these things in a will. If you have children, who is going to take care of those children if something happens to you and your spouse? Who is going to manage finances for those minor children until they are old enough to do so themselves?
So you need to make sure that you have the proper documents in place for your children’s sake. Talk it over with your spouse and determine who is going to be the guardian and who will be conservator if something was to happen to both of you. The guardian and conservator don’t have to be the same person, but it can be. The guardian will determine where your child lives and manage other personal things related to their health and well-being. The conservator would be in charge of all their finances and property until they were old enough to do so.
It’s also very important that you name specific people in your will. You can’t just say “my parents” or use general terms for relatives. You need to state specific names. If it’s not in the will, it’s not going to happen. I’ve seen many occasions where young people pass and grandparents begin fighting over custody of the children. You don’t want that because that’s certainly not in the best interest of the child. It’s crucial that you sit down as a couple and determine who will handle your child’s well-being and finances if you were to unexpectedly pass.
Other Estate Planning Documents
In addition to having a will, you need to make sure that you have a durable power of attorney. A durable power of attorney defines who will manage your finances if you become incapacitated and are unable to do so. It could be your spouse, another relative, or even a friend — whoever you specifically state in the durable power of attorney document.
Another important piece of estate planning documents is the advanced directive of healthcare. If you are unable to make healthcare decisions for yourself, you need to have someone who will help you with that. That person is defined in the advanced directive of healthcare document. Make sure you have all these things on paper so there’s no confusion when that time comes.
If you don’t have these documents in place, the State of Georgia will likely make many of these determinations for you. Nobody wants the government determining how their kids should be raised or who should be making decisions for them. Without estate planning documents in place, your kids would receive all your property when they are 18. Are they ready for that responsibility at the age of 18? Maybe not. But if you have the correct documents in place, you can determine the age at which they would receive your property.
Having a trust within your will is a great idea if you do have significant assets. The trust allows you to place all your assets inside it for the benefit of your kids. They’d receive income and principal for their health, maintenance, support, and education should something happen to you. You can determine at what specific age they receive these assets. You can even stagger the inheritance so they receive some at 25, some at 30, some at 35, etc.
Likewise if you don’t have a power of attorney or advanced healthcare directive, someone is going to have to go to the probate court on your behalf and convince the court that they should be making decisions for you. The State will then determine a guardian and conservator for you instead of you being able to choose that person. With the correct estate planning documents in place, all those designations are already made and probate is avoided.
Estate planning is just not for the rich and famous. It’s not just for the elderly. It’s for anybody who is over the age of 18. Make sure that you determine who, when, and how your heirs will be receiving your property. If you have children, it’s even more important to have the correct estate planning documents in place that determine who is going to get your children and what is going to happen to their property. You have the power to decide today.
Contact Us So We Can Help!
Estate planning is not always a pleasant conversation to have. Young couples often get into heated arguments when discussing estate planning documents. One spouse doesn’t want the other spouse’s family taking care of their children, etc. But you have to work through the details for the benefit of your young children. It’s much better to have a plan than to have no plan.
If you have any additional questions regarding estate planning, please complete this form or give us a call at (229) 226-8183. You can also send us an email to [email protected]. We’re here to help you work through any issues and develop a plan that works best for your family.
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