Georgia Estate Planning Blog

The importance of health care planning in retirement

Many Georgia residents have spent a lot of time planning and saving for retirement. However, they may not necessarily think about how health care costs could impact their ability to live comfortably after they leave the workforce. The average American will need to spend $260,000 on out-of-pocket care costs during their retirement years, according to Fidelity Investments. Long-term care costs may cause that number to increase.

Anywhere from one-third to half of retirees will have long-term care needs. Those who receive care in their homes may pay $4,500 a month while a semi-private room can cost $7,500 or more per month depending on where a person is located. To pay these costs, it's beneficial to purchase a long-term care policy. It may also be possible to buy a life insurance policy that comes with either a long-term care or death benefit.

How to take advantage of new estate tax laws

Georgia residents and others may be impacted by the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In addition to making changes to the personal and business tax code, it also affected estate tax law. For instance, individuals are allowed a federal estate tax exemption of $11.18 million. Married couples may be able to combine their individual exemptions for a total of $22.36 million.

While making use of the combined exemption may make sense for some people, this is not necessarily the best play for everyone. For instance, individuals who are married multiple times and have blended families may not want to give their exemptions to a spouse. Those who are being pursued by creditors also may not want to pass their assets directly to a surviving spouse. Instead, it may be best to use a QTIP or bypass trust.

Estate planning tools at a person's disposal

Estate planning is important for any Georgia resident who has assets. An estate is anything that a person owned at the time of his or her death. If a person had debts or other liabilities, they would also be part of an estate. When an individual passes on, whatever is left over after liabilities have been accounted for is distributed to beneficiaries.

In some cases, this means going through the probate process. It is also possible to transfer assets through beneficiary designations or by the use of a trust. Beneficiary designations are commonly used on assets such as bank or retirement accounts. A revocable living trust is the most common type of trust, and it allows a person to act as trustee, which means that he or she can change it at will.

How trusts can help protect your business

If you are a Johns Creek area business owner or anticipate becoming one, one of the most important things you could ever do to protect your investment involves estate planning. Though your company might be fairly young, it is never too early for you to put plans in place to ensure its operations when you are not able to manage it. 

Consider the possibility of you falling seriously ill, having to undergo a major and unexpected medical procedure. If you do not have enough funds set aside to cover those expenses in addition to your company’s operational costs, a major life event could be the reason for its demise. 

Talking inheritances with the kids

Many people living in Georgia have already completed their estate plans, which could include wills and advance directives. What they may not have done, however, is actually explained to their adult children what these documents contain.

While it's understandable that parents may be uncomfortable discussing a will's provisions with their children, it's often wise to overcome this discomfort. This is because heirs should be prepared to understand and work with an inheritance. Otherwise, confusion, hurt feelings and financial mistakes can occur, particularly as an heir is trying to cope with grief.

Digital assets can be important in estate planning

With the rise in popularity and value of bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies, new questions have arisen for Georgia residents who want to get involved with these forms of digital investments. Backed up by blockchain technology and often characterized by anonymity, cryptocurrencies can hold great financial value. As they are personal property, it can be important to account for them during estate planning.

Because bitcoins are encrypted and exist in virtual space only, their security is a major selling point. Private keys are used to manage access to a bitcoin wallet, and there is no way of retrieving the key to either reset the password for the original owner or to grant access to a rightful heir. If a bitcoin owner passes away without giving the private key to another party, the bitcoins are simply lost, and there is no way to retrieve them.

Art collections need careful estate planning

More so than perhaps any other kind of collection, an art collection is a reflection of its curator. His or her tastes, quirks, and, perhaps above all else, level of wealth are on display with the collected items themselves. Georgia is home to some impressive hoards of artistic gold—sometimes literally—but collectors here may make the same mistake as others: failing to do proper estate planning for the disposition of their art assets after death.

Unfortunately, when it comes to estate planning, estate tax, probate, and other issues such as wills and trusts, art collectors often procrastinate in specifying what goes to whom, and how. This may expose their heirs to costly and unpleasant legal battles that could have been avoided entirely through proper financial planning.

Tailoring an estate plan after tax law changes

Ideally, Georgia residents will maintain their estate plans much like they would maintain their homes and cars. This means regularly reviewing them to ensure that it still meets their needs. Reviews should be done after major life events like a marriage or divorce. In light of recent tax changes, it may be a good idea for married couples to ask about their joint exemption. Married couples are now entitled to a $22.4 million federal estate tax exemption.

However, they need to make sure that they have elected to take advantage of the portability provision. Otherwise, married couples may be limited to whatever remains of their $11.2 million individual exemption. It is important to note that these new limits exempt just about everybody.

Common estate planning errors

There are a number of common errors a person in Georgia might make in estate planning that could lead to problems in carrying out his or her wishes. One of the main errors is procrastinating on putting together an estate plan at all. If someone dies without a will or any other estate planning, the state will determine what happens to that person's belongings.

However, creating an estate plan doesn't just involve doing it and forgetting it. Estate plans need to be reviewed regularly to ensure that they still make sense based on current tax laws and that they fit a person's current life situation and relationships. It is important that estate planning documents be prepared in compliance with any beneficiary designations or arrangements, such as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship since these both override instructions in a will or a trust.

Important estate planning steps for new parents

When you become a first-time parent, you may find yourself consumed with feedings, naps and learning the ropes of caring for a newborn on your own. With everything you have going on, it becomes all too easy to let other aspects of your life take a backseat, and many couples find they have little time left for matters such as estate planning.

Once you reproduce, however, it becomes increasingly important that you plan for your family’s future, and there are certain estate planning steps that are particularly important for new families. For example, once you have a son or daughter, it may prove wise to consider the following:

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We are ready to help you start planning. To schedule an initial consultation, call us at 770-822-2723 or 866-735-9628. You may also contact us online.


Johns Creek Office
11555 Medlock Bridge Road, Suite 100
Johns Creek, GA 30097

Toll Free: 866-735-9628
Phone: 770-822-2723
Fax: 770-573-3379
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Lawrenceville Office
1755 North Brown Road, Suite 200
Lawrenceville, GA 30043

Toll Free: 866-735-9628
Phone: 770-822-2723
Fax: 770-573-3379
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