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Planning for the future can be a daunting task for many. As people grow older, experience more things, and acquire more assets, it becomes increasingly necessary to look beyond and make preparations for the unexpected. Estate planning empowers an individual to decide how their assets will be managed and who will have the authority to make important decisions for them when they are unable to.

Estate planning is for everyone, not only for wealthy individuals. Anyone who is concerned about preparing for the future and wants to equip themselves can benefit from a well-made estate plan. At Trace Brooks Law, we offer personalized estate planning services that take your estate planning goals into consideration. Our team, led by Atlanta estate planning attorney Trace Brooks, will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of your unique circumstances and provide you with the appropriate tools to match your needs.

To learn more about how we can help and schedule a consultation, call us today at (404) 492-9559.

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About TBL

Trace Brooks Law helps successful individuals and families protect their assets and build wealth by implementing comprehensive estate plans and advising on complex land and tax matters.

Trace founded Trace Brooks Law after watching family members and friends put off estate planning until their final years, causing unnecessary complications, cost, and stress for their loved ones. By implementing custom estate planning strategies tailored to each client’s unique circumstances, Trace Brooks Law creates peace of mind for clients while protecting their assets and helping them build wealth for generations.

To learn more about how we can help and schedule a consultation, call us today at (404) 492-4559.

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Skilled Atlanta Attorney Trace Brooks Discusses Estate Planning in Georgia

Most people think of estate planning as something to accomplish only when they have reached an advanced stage in their lives. As we age, there are many things that pull our attention away from planning for the future. It is important, however, to understand that maximizing the benefits of estate planning involves having a well-made estate plan that changes as you go through the different milestones in your life. 

At Trace Brooks Law, our principles are aligned with the goal of helping individuals and their families protect their assets and build wealth by creating tailored estate plans with their personal needs in mind.

Wills are the premier documents that come to people’s minds when thinking about creating an estate plan. Wills allow a person to decide beforehand who carries out their wishes at the time of their passing, which assets will be distributed to which beneficiaries, and who will take care of any minor children they have when they are gone. 

When a person passes away without a will, their estate will be distributed according to Georgia’s intestacy laws. Each state has its own rules of who will inherit a person’s assets. If a person does not have a spouse or children when they pass away, the intestate succession rules distribute the decedent’s estate to increasingly distant family members. If no relatives can be found, either by blood or by marriage, the state will take the person’s assets.

Georgia laws allow people to create their own wills, even without an attorney. However, creating your own will can leave you and your estate vulnerable to disputes. To ensure that your will is legally binding, enforceable, and takes into account your specific needs, working with an experienced wills attorney is important.

Wills should act as an extension of your goals and should reflect the dynamics of the changes in your lifestyle. Whether you are a young professional just starting out in your career, a married person just building a family, or a person who has already acquired a lot of assets and is seeking to protect your legacy, creating a will can provide you with a sense of security that your affairs will be handled in the manner you decide.

Alongside wills, trusts can be a vital part of your estate planning process. A trust can act as a vehicle for your assets that allows you to manage your assets for specific goals such as reducing taxes, maximizing tax benefits, preparing an educational fund for your children, or protecting you and your family in case of financial need such as illness or crisis.

A trust can also help you avoid the probate process and facilitate the distribution of your estate more efficiently. When creating a trust, a person, known as the trustor, puts assets into the trust to be used, distributed, and managed in accordance with the terms of the trust. The trustor can also name a trustee – either another person or themself – who will manage the trust according to its terms.

There are many kinds of trusts that you can include in your Atlanta estate plan. The type you include should reflect what you want to accomplish with your trust.

  • A Testamentary Trust is a trust that is created  by a will. This kind of trust is created upon the death of the creator with its terms specified in the will. A Testamentary Trust is a type of Irrevocable Trust. 
  • Revocable Trusts, also known as living trusts or “inter vivos” trusts, are trusts that allow the creator to make modifications such as adding or removing assets and beneficiaries and adjusting the terms of the trust. Upon the death of the trustor-trustee, a successor trustee can take over the management of the trust and the administration of the assets within. The beneficiaries of your trust will receive the assets in the trust when you die or according to a set schedule and manner you decide. 
  • An Irrevocable Trust is a trust that cannot be changed or modified once it has been signed and created. Irrevocable trusts can be a useful tool in protecting assets and in reducing estate taxes. Creating an irrevocable trust means giving up the ownership and control of assets put in the trust.

While either wills or trusts can be helpful on their own, including both of them in your estate plan can maximize the benefits and allow them to complement each other’s limitations. As an example, you may not be able to decide who will be the guardian of your minor children with just a trust. A will can also help you take care of the assets you were not able to include in your trust at the time of your passing. 

To learn more about how wills and trusts can help you plan for the future, consult with a qualified Atlanta trusts attorney who can walk you through the pros and cons and recommend the kind of trust that fits your needs the best. It is also important that your trust is drafted correctly to avoid costly mistakes in the future. Trace Brooks Law is an Atlanta law firm that offers quality estate planning services and representation. We are here to help you make informed decisions and understand your rights under the law.

Contact us today at (404) 492-9559 to schedule a consultation.

Probate is the legal process of gathering a deceased person’s estate, paying any debts and taxes they left behind, and transferring property and assets to the people who will inherit them. 

An estate is a collection of assets a person has and leaves behind upon their death. An estate can include both tangible and intangible assets as well as real property and personal possessions. Upon the person’s death, these assets will be distributed to the person’s beneficiaries and heirs through probate. Wills are evaluated during probate in Georgia to ensure their authenticity.

Probate can also allow claimants and beneficiaries to raise any concerns regarding estate administration and to air any complaints regarding how the distribution of assets or the general process of probate is being handled. If a Personal Representative is found to have violated their fiduciary duties over the estate administration, they may be replaced and even face potential lawsuits. In some probate cases, a Personal Representative may be required to file a bond that acts as a security in the event a representative mishandles the probate of the estate.

Probate in Georgia typically takes anywhere from eight months to several years depending on whether there are creditors who are trying to make a claim on the deceased person’s estate or there is a legal dispute over the will. Probate lawyers may be able to help provide assistance in case there is a need for litigation and representation, especially when beneficiaries claim that a Personal Representative is not acting in accordance with the terms of the will.

The person who will handle the probate process is someone the deceased person could have chosen beforehand, often called the Executor. In Georgia probate, the Executor is also called a Personal Representative or a PR. If you have been named as a loved one’s Personal Representative, you will have the responsibility of taking care of the probate process and settling your loved one’s affairs. The Atlanta probate court formally appoints personal representatives of the estate and gives them the authority to handle the deceased person’s affairs. The Executor is appointed by the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived. Your attorney may be able to help shed light on the process of taking up the responsibility of being a Personal Representative and the official processes involved.

In the case that a person passes away without a will, without naming a Personal Representative, or if the Personal Representative they chose is unable or unwilling to serve, the probate court can appoint an “Administrator” who will act in the capacity of a Personal Representative during the entire probate process. 

Under Georgia law, an administrator may be selected unanimously by all the heirs of a deceased person who dies intestate. If there is not a unanimous selection, the probate court will make the appointment that will best serve the interest of the estate, with the deceased person’s spouse as first in the order of preference  to be appointed as an administrator. If the couple was in the process of getting a divorce, the spouse can be skipped over to avoid imposing the responsibility of handling the deceased person’s affairs. 

If you have been appointed as the Personal Representative of a loved one, understanding your roles and responsibilities is crucial to make sure that you are honoring their legacy. A probate lawyer can help guide you and allow you to perform your duties as best as you can. With the assistance and counsel of Georgia estate planning attorneys and professionals at Trace Brooks Law, handling the probate process can be done with more efficiency and with lesser issues. We are here to answer your questions and to help you start your estate planning journey.

Call our office today at (404) 492-9559.

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How Estate Planning Can Help You

Planning for the future can feel overwhelming especially when you feel like you are equipping yourself for something that’s unknown. It is important to keep in mind that an estate plan seeks to protect what is important to you.

Establishing an estate plan allows you to make your wishes known and to express your decisions when you become unable to or are not around to make them anymore. Having your preferences known also allows your loved ones to have confidence that they are honoring your wishes and acting in your best interests.

An estate plan can also allow you to continue providing for your loved ones even when you become incapable or pass away. For individuals who are amicably divorced or share blended families, having an estate plan in place can help ensure that your family members can become beneficiaries of your estate which may be impossible under Georgia intestacy law. Conversely, having a clear-cut list of beneficiaries would allow you to prevent your assets from being handed over to individuals who you prefer to be excluded from your beneficiaries.

With the help of a qualified Atlanta attorney, you can establish an estate plan that would allow you to enjoy the fruits of your own labor through the creation of retirement accounts. If you own any businesses, an estate plan can allow you to plan its seamless succession and allow your family to keep control of the business when you are gone. Estate planning can also help in reducing your taxes and lessening the possibility of creditors being able to claim a stake in your assets.

At Trace Brooks Law, we provide estate planning solutions aimed at making it easier for Atlanta residents to plan ahead. Estate planning and learning about proper estate administration in Georgia can be a complicated and overwhelming process when done without the assistance of an Atlanta estate attorney who has a grasp of the legal processes involved.

Whether you need a will drafted, a trust established, or assistance during probate, our Atlanta estate planning law firm will take time to consider your specific needs and goals and create an estate planning solution that best fits your case.

In estate planning, the creation of a Power of Attorney allows an individual to name an agent who will make decisions on their behalf in the event that the individual becomes incapacitated. The type of Power of Attorney you create will dictate which kind of decisions your agent will be able to make for you.

  • A Financial Power of Attorney, also known as a Durable Power of Attorney, allows your agent to make decisions about the management of your estate. This can include paying your bills, debts, and taxes, as well as collecting any income and insurance benefits.
  • A Medical Power of Attorney, also known as a Healthcare Power of Attorney or Healthcare Proxy, helps you appoint an agent who will have the legal authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf when you become too ill or incapacitated.

The scope of responsibility and the duration of Powers of Attorney may be limited depending on your preference. Most Powers of Attorney expire when the principal or the person who created them passes away. When creating a Power of Attorney, you may also be able to choose more than one agent, especially for a Financial Power of Attorney. This can allow a system of checks and balances to avoid mishandling matters of estate administration.

Aside from a Medical Power of Attorney, you can also choose to create an Advance Directive or a Living Will that allows you to specify the healthcare decisions you want or do not want should you become terminally ill or too incapacitated to make the decision. Advance Directives do not require the assignment of an agent to have your decisions binding. Having an Advance Directive can make it easier for your family to decide on your medical treatment and you may also be able to include any preferences on whether to provide life-prolonging treatments and other end-of-life care concerns.

Establishing a Power of Attorney or an Advance Directive in Atlanta can be just as important as creating a will. For business owners, for example, having a Financial Power of Attorney can allow the management of your business to proceed smoothly as you would have an agent who will make the necessary decisions.

Including your medical care while estate planning, as in a Medical Power of Attorney or an Advance Directive, not only empowers you but also helps avoid heartache and stress on your family when they are unsure regarding the choices to make about your healthcare.

Long-term care can be expensive and deplete your resources if you don’t prepare beforehand. Fortunately, government benefits like Medicaid can help provide you with the care you need. However, the eligibility requirements for government benefit programs in Georgia can be quite restrictive and can include specific income requirements. You may be required to spend down your assets in order to avoid them from being clawed back or risk costly penalties and even losing your eligibility for benefits.

Proactive planning can allow you to protect your assets and maintain your eligibility for government programs. If you are concerned about needing long-term care in the future, Medicaid asset protection planning may be helpful.

Guardianship planning can also allow you to ensure that you are protected in the case that you become incapacitated and make advance decisions on who would have the legal authority to decide on matters regarding your well-being.

Long-term care planning is an aspect of estate planning and elder law that can allow senior adults to have a say in their care and quality of life. With the help of a capable estate planning attorney in Atlanta, you can be afforded a better quality of life when the time comes that you need long-term care.

Providing for a loved one with special needs can be made easier through the help of special needs planning. Ensuring that the needs of loved ones with special needs in Georgia are met, especially when they are your children, can prove to be difficult once they reach adulthood. Special needs planning allows you to establish and supplement any government benefits your special needs loved ones receive by putting together a plan that takes care of their well-being while not putting their eligibility for government assistance in jeopardy.

You may also be able to establish a guardianship for your loved one to be able to help them in managing their affairs while still allowing them some degree of independence. Speaking with a skilled guardianship attorney may be able to shed some light on the kinds of guardianship available and which fits your case best.

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Working With an Experienced Atlanta Estate Planning Law Firm

The complexity of your estate plan depends on you and your family’s circumstances as well as your estate planning goals. A one-size-fits-all solution for estate planning does not exist but you can be sure that, with the help of a personalized plan that adheres to Atlanta’s estate law, you and your family can be protected from future mishaps as a result of being unprepared.

Trace Brooks Law is an Atlanta estate planning law firm that aims to provide Georgia residents with a sense of ease and security that their legacies would be protected and their wishes honored regarding estate administration. Our Atlanta estate planning attorney has the legal knowledge and professionalism required to handle our clients’ estate planning needs. We provide quality legal services related to estate administration and planning as well as elder law.

Regardless of the size of the estate, we strive to establish a working relationship with our clients in the interest of making sure that their estate is secured for the benefit of their loved ones and that the clients’ goals for their assets and properties are met.

Contact our office today at (404) 492-9559 to schedule a consultation with our skilled Atlanta estate planning lawyer.

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