Estate Planning For New Parents

While new parents may not think they need an estate plan, this could not be further from the truth. All parents of minor children should have a properly executed estate plan. One of the most important features of an estate plan is the ability to nominate a guardian for your minor children.

This guardian would care of your children if something were to happen to you and the other parent. The person you select as your children’s guardian would ultimately raise your children. That person would also be a primary source of support for them during a difficult time. Thus, you and the other parent will want to consider several factors. Will your children have to relocate to a different school district? Can the potential guardian financially care for your children? Do you expect the potential guardian to remain in good health until your children turn 18-years-old? Perhaps the most relevant factor to consider is whether the person would want to take on the role. Have an honest and realistic conversation with the person you are considering.

If you pass away without a plan in place, or if your selection falls through for whatever reason, a judge will appoint a guardian for you. The judge will decide based on what he or she considers to be in the child’s best interest. Unfortunately, that decision may not align with what YOU consider to be in their best interest. In some cases, children are sent to Child Protective Services while the judge decides on the proper guardian. For these reasons, we advise all of our clients to include two backup options for guardianship. If your circumstances or the potential guardian’s circumstances change, our office offers a Lifetime Lawyer Guarantee, which allows our clients to make changes to their estate plan for no additional charge. We understand that circumstances change.

Nominating a guardian is just one of the ways an estate plan can protect your children if something happened to you. Other estate planning options available to parents include a Special Needs Trust for children with a disability, and a Children’s Inheritance Trust, which among other benefits, allows you to control not only what your children inherit, but also when they inherit it.

For more information about how you can plan for your family’s future, no matter what happens, contact an Atlanta Estate Planning Attorney today at (404) 260-1901.

Are Taxpayer Identification Numbers Required For Revocable or Irrevocable Grantor Trusts

Trusts are common estate planning tools in which a person can transfer ownership of assets to their Trust while they are alive. Then, upon their death, the assets are distributed to the beneficiaries named in the Trust, without the requirement of probate.

 

A Revocable Trust never requires a Taxpayer Identification Number (“TIN”), as a Revocable Trust is always considered a Grantor Trust by the IRS. A social security number of the person who created the Trust is sufficient when opening new accounts in the Trust name. Nor, does a Revocable Trust have its own tax return, and your taxes are

completed exactly the same as they would if you did not have a Trust in place. After the Person(s) who have created the Trust are deceased, then the Trust becomes irrevocable and a TIN is required.

 

If your Irrevocable Trust is a Grantor type Trust it will not require a TIN either, until the same point as the Trust creators have both passed away. It is important to understand what type of Trust you are creating and if, and when you may need a TIN. Feel free to call me today at (404) 260-1901 for your free consultation regarding Trust planning.

Lifetime Giving or Gifting

Giving to charity, or to loved ones while you are alive, is an important aspect of many estate plans. Those wishing to give these type of gifts, in a tax efficient manner, and wish to help reduce estate taxes, should consider gifting throughout their lifetime.

 

Currently, the IRS allows any person to gift up to $14,000 each to as many number of persons in a single year without incurring a taxable gift. This $14,000 annual exclusion allows one to gift without owing taxes on the gift, or requiring reporting (unless the money is coming from a foreign source). If you gift over the $14,000 exclusion, you must file a Gift Tax Return. Additionally, spouses splitting gifts are required to file this Gift Tax Return even when no taxable gift amount is incurred. One major loophole is that it is possible to make unlimited payments directly to medical providers or educational institutions on behalf of others for qualified expenses. These gifts, as long as paid directly to the facilities and not a natural person, are generally not considered a taxable gift, or require the filing of a gift tax return.

 

Another thing to consider is gifting highly appreciated assets to charities during your lifetime and receive an income tax deduction for the donation, while bypassing the capital gains tax that would be owed if you cashed in the assets yourself. However, donors have aggregate lifetime exemptions, which in 2016 was $5.45 million each person during their lifetime and still avoid gift tax. This number applies to gift and federal/ state estate taxes combined.

 

Gifting is just one way to give meaningful financial support to those you love during your life and after your death. Feel free to call us at (404) 260-1901 to discuss a strategy to maximize your donations while minimizing taxation.

Guardianships and Conservatorships in Georgia Probate Court

The probate court oversees guardianships and conservatorships in Georgia. However, the court does not have a duty to ensure your daily actions are not in violation of your role or any bond you may have. As a matter of fact, you may not realize there is any problem with your duties as a guardian or conservator until you have been served with a complaint (suit). Even if you feel as if you have handled the guardianship or conservatorship correctly, you may owe money on the bond if your record keeping is inadequate.

Call my office today at (404) 260-1901 if you are, or need to obtain a guardianship or conservatorship, so I can explain your rights and obligations, answer your questions, help you with recordkeeping that will satisfy the probate court, and assist you with filing reports to the probate court to prevent future problems in that role.

Probate Litigation

During the probate process, a disagreement or dispute may arise on how the estate is handled. You may even want to contest the validity of the Will for some reason. Whether you are an Executor, a Trustee, a Beneficiary, or a Personal Representative of the estate, and you feel like your interest in the probate process is being violated, or that the validity of the Will is in question, I can help by representing you and in probate litigation. Additionally, there is a limited timeframe to contest a Will, so feel free to call me at (404) 260-1901 for a free Probate consultation.

Who Can Apply For a Years Support in Georgia?

Only a surviving spouse or a minor child of the decedent may apply for a years support after their loved one passes away. The petition asks the court to designate specified property to be awarded to the spouse and/or children. Notice of the property being asked to be awarded must be given to all "interested persons," meaning, anyone who may have an interest in that property under the laws of Georgia. Because property awarded as a year's support is free of all unsecured debts, even certain ad valorem taxes on real property, and takes priority over any gifts or dispositions in your loved ones Will, it is important to make sure your family takes advantage of this benefit. Please call our office today at (404) 260-1901 to make sure you are aware of all the benefits you are entitled to before the statute of limitations bars your recovery.

Medicaid Planning

The cost of nursing-home care is on the rise and can be financially devastating! In Georgia—in 2016, the average nursing home was anywhere from $6000 or more per month. Therefore, to protect everything you have worked your life to accumulate, or even to leave as a legacy for your family, may be at jeopardy if you or your spouse enter a nursing home. Medicaid planning involves designing a plan that protects and shelters your assets from the huge expense incurred when receiving long-term care in a nursing

home, and from the mandatory spend down of assets. Essentially, I counsel families on Medicaid planning to involve protecting their assets and the proper way to “spend-down” assets to qualify for long-term-care Medicaid benefits. If you are without long term care benefits and there is a potential for nursing home care in your future, it is vital that you call me at (404) 260-1901 for counsel in these matters.