Why Choose Goldberg & Associates
- Since 1999, our elder law firm has helped clients throughout the state of Georgia manage their estate matters with ease and receive fair treatment during the estate planning process.
- We are dedicated to protecting your best interests. Our attorneys always act with the highest level of integrity and pay careful, personalized attention to each and every client.
- We know how sensitive and complex estate planning can be. Our firm is equipped to guide you through these conversations and help protect your hard-earned assets.
Types of Estate Services We Offer
At Goldberg & Associates, our attorneys handle a wide range of claims involving estates, trusts, and other fiduciary matters. In addition to estate planning, some of the claims that we handle include, but are not limited to, the following.
Whether you are facing a dispute or need support managing your assets, our law firm can help. Schedule a legal review with Goldberg & Associates today to learn more about our services and how we can support your Atlanta estate matters.
What Is an Estate Plan?
Your estate is the accumulation of everything that you own including real estate, vehicles, checking accounts, life insurance, personal items and investments. An estate plan encompasses your instructions for what you want to happen to everything you own after you pass.
There are several elements of a well-rounded estate plan, including the will, power of attorney, and beneficiaries.
The will is a legally binding statement that outlines how you want your assets distributed after your death. In a will, you also appoint a personal representative of your estate, who is responsible for carrying out your final wishes. This document is a critical component of the estate plan.
A Durable Power of Attorney
When a person becomes incapacitated due to a medical emergency or decline in mental functioning, he or she can no longer care for himself or herself. Establishing a durable power of attorney protects your interests in the event that you face this situation.
A power of attorney authorizes another person to handle specific matters on your behalf, such as medical decisions or financial matters. When a power of attorney is durable, that means that it remains in effect even if you become incapacitated.
A beneficiary is a person or entity who benefits from a will, estate plan, trust, insurance policy, or a similar financial arrangement. When creating an estate plan, you will need to name the beneficiaries by identifying who will receive certain assets. Many people name their children, spouses, and other relatives as beneficiaries, but you could also name a financial institution.
An Advance Medical Directive
An advance medical directive, which is also known as a living will, is a legal document that specifies your preferences for medical care. This document will help doctors and caregivers determine what to do in the event that you become terminally ill, suffer a serious accident, experiencing late-stage dementia, or nearing the end of your life.
For example, an advance medical directive may instruct doctors not to keep you on life support in the event that you become brain dead. By creating an advance medical directive, you can reduce confusion, avoid unnecessary suffering,
Life insurance policies are often issued through employers or purchased privately by individuals. If you have life insurance coverage, you will need to ensure that your account is in order and included in your final estate plan. You will need to name a beneficiary and include information on how your loved ones can access the policy following your death.
A trust is a fiduciary relationship between three parties: the trustor, who creates the trust; the trustee, who the trustor gives the right to hold property or assets; and the beneficiary, for whom the trust is established. Many people establish trusts to provide funds for their children, set aside assets for long-term care, and for many other estate planning needs.
If you have a pet that you want to take care of following your passing, you may want to consider pet trusts. By setting up a trust for a pet or companion animal, you can designate a caretaker, set the terms of your pet’s care, and set aside funds for food, supplies, medical care, and other important costs.
Benefits of Estate Planning
Estate and asset protection planning provides solutions to the following types of concerns.
How will I avoid the cost and inconvenience of probate for my spouse and children?
For many clients, the best solution is a revocable trust, often referred to as a living trust.
If I can’t make legal, financial, or healthcare decisions for myself, how can I be sure my wishes are carried out?
Again, a revocable trust may provide the answer. In addition, every client needs a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy appointing a trusted individual to make financial and health care decisions for you when you no longer can yourself.
How can I make sure my wealth and possessions end up in the right hands when I’m gone?
Wills and trusts are vehicles for passing on your assets to those you choose. Many clients are concerned about funds they leave to their children being at risk of their children’s creditors, spouses upon divorce, or simply bad decisions their children may make. For them, a family protection trust can provide the protection they seek. In addition, proper planning will prevent the payment of unavoidable estate taxes upon your death.
My spouse needs more care than I can give. Will we lose everything to pay for care, or are there options?
Not if you plan properly, the earlier, the better. There are a number of planning options available to spouses of nursing home residents to protect their financial well-being while qualifying their ill spouse for MassHealth coverage of nursing home fees.
My child is disabled. How can I provide for their future?
We have helped many parents of children with special needs plan for their children through the creation of a special needs trust funded with life insurance.
What legacy will I leave?
Your greatest legacy is the children and grandchildren you raise, if any, and the memories you leave with your family, friends, and work colleagues. However, support of charities and an estate plan that provides for your family and smoothly passes on what you leave behind will also contribute greatly to the legacy you leave and your family’s welfare for decades to come.
Common Estate Planning Terms
There are many terms involved in estate planning, which can be challenging for the average person. Aside from terms like will or trust, you may hear some of the following words while planning your estate.
- Probate: The process of distributing a person’s assets at death is known as probate. This process can be complex and disputes over the terms of a will may arise. In these cases, you may need to litigate probate disputes in court.
- Will: Your will is a legal binding statement of who will receive your property at your death. It also appoints a legal representative to carry out your wishes. However, the will only covers probate property, not joint property, trust property, or life insurance proceeds.
- Trust: A trust is legal entity under which one person – the “trustee” – holds legal title to property for the benefit of others – the “beneficiaries”. The trustee must follow the rules provided in the trust instrument. An irrevocable trust is one that cannot be changed after it has been created. A revocable trust is one that may be changed or rescinded by the person who created it. Trusts are often used for tax planning, to provide for someone with expertise to manage assets, or to shelter assets to protect them from creditors or for long-term care planning when you want to qualify for VA Pension or Nursing Home Medicaid benefits.
- Health Care Proxy: A health care proxy is similar to a power of attorney in that you appoint someone else to make decisions on your behalf. In the proxy, you will include important guidelines on what to do if you are incapacitated. A health care proxy does not take effect until a medical professional determines that you are incapable of making your own decisions.
- Durable Power of Attorney: Under a financial power of attorney, you may appoint someone else to act for you when you are unable to do so yourself. The reason may be your mental incapacity or your inability to be somewhere when needed. The person you appoint – your “attorney-in-fact” – must always act in your best interest and try to make choices you would make if you were able to do so.
- Marital Deduction: Tax matters are some of the most complex parts of estate planning. When an asset is passed to the surviving spouse of a decedent, it is not subject to taxation under federal law or included in the taxable estate. These assets are referred to as the marital deduction.
- Estate Tax: Upon a person’s death, his or her probate and non-probate properties are taxed. This is known as the estate tax, which is paid by the estate itself. This tax is calculated based on the fair market value of your assets, which is known as the gross estate. The taxable estate is the gross estate minus applicable deductions.
- Minimum Monthly Maintenance Needs Allowance (MMMNA): When a spouse goes to live in a nursing home, that spouse will likely receive coverage under Medicaid. Once the nursing home spouse qualifies for this coverage, both spouses are entitled to a certain amount of income known as the MMMNA. The nursing home spouse typically pays his or her MMMNA to the facility, keeping a small amount for a personal allowance. If the healthy spouse makes a lower income, he or she could receive a portion of the nursing home spouse’s allowance.
- Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA): When a spouse moves into a nursing home, the healthy spouse will need to pay for his or her care until he or she qualifies for Medicaid. Under the Medicaid program, a person living in a nursing home may have $2,000 in countable assets. The amount that a healthy spouse can keep under the Medicaid program is known as the CSRA, which is all of the couple’s combined assets up to $115,000.
Contact an Atlanta Estate Planning Attorney
If you need support planning an estate, you need an attorney who can represent your best interests and help you manage your affairs. A Georgia estate planning attorney from Goldberg & Associates has the skills, experience, and knowledge you need to streamline this complex process.
Contact an attorney at Goldberg & Associates in Atlanta to schedule your legal review and learn more about your estate planning options. Our lawyers will evaluate your case and help you take the first steps toward establishing an estate plan.