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Thursday, October 23 2014

Thy WILL Be Done (Right) 

10 Bullet Points to Protect Your Loved Ones

1. Name the Right Executor - Choose the right person to carry out your wishes. Options include spouse, family members, friends, financial institutions.

2. Name the Right Trustee - The trustee manages property not left outright to beneficiaries.  The "trust" part is there for a reason! May be the same person or different from the Executor.

3. Name a Guardian for Any Minor Children - The Guardian raises the minor children if both parents are gone. May be the same or different from the Executor or Trustee.

4. Clearly State Who Gets What and How They Will Get It - Spouse, family, friends or charities? Outright or in trust? Special needs? Tax or control issues? Restrictions, incentives?

5. Coordinate Non-Probate Property - Joint Accounts, retirement plans, insurance, jointly-owned property, etc., are outside your will, but must fit with the plan of your will (see my post on “What is Probate?”).

6. Must Be Signed and Witnessed Properly - Strict formalities must be followed or your will is null and void (see my post on “It’s on the Internet - What Could Possibly go Wrong?”).

7. Have a Self-Proving Affidavit - Keeps Executor from having to track down witnesses years later.

8. Empower your Executors and Trustees - Pick the right people, then grant them the powers to do their jobs without undue delay and expense. In most cases, you can waive requirements for inventories and court supervised returns that eat up time and money.

9. Keep it Where It Will be Found – Keep your original will and other important papers in a safe place and let your Executor know where it is. Hide and seek is not a good use of the Executor's time! 

10. Review and Update Regularly - Your life changes, and so should your Will. No plan is right forever. Review at least every few years or if big changes happen in your life.

These bullet points raise crucial issues but only scratch the surface. An experienced estate attorney can help you make the right decisions. I have helped protect loved ones and families for nearly 20 years. Call me, John O. "Jack" Moore, at (770) 277-7767 or email me at johnomoorelaw@gmail.com for a free consultation.

Posted by: AT 08:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, October 21 2014

DON’T HAVE A WILL?

Don’t Worry – The Government has Already Made It for You!

Charles and Jennifer (names have been changed) had been living together in unwedded bliss for twelve years, when Jennifer, who owned their condo, died suddenly from a stroke. Being only in her thirties, she had never made a will. A few weeks later I got a frantic call from Charles. Jennifer’s parents, who despised him, had sent him a certified letter giving him a week to vacate the condo or be evicted. I was able to buy him a little more time, but soon Charles, already grief-stricken, was also homeless (even though he had been paying half the mortgage payment), because of the will the State of Georgia had made for Jennifer without her even knowing it.

Most people don’t make their own will, so every state has a law of intestate succession, decreeing who inherits from a dearly departed one with no will. “Intestate” may sound like a male hormone issue, but it is really an inheritance issue! State laws vary, but intestate succession is based only on relationship by blood, adoption or marriage. Georgia law says that since Jennifer had no spouse or children, her parents were her heirs and became the owners of the condo. Georgia has no common-law marriage, so Charles had no more rights to the property than a stranger. Jennifer could have left him the property but never got around to it.

Two other examples of government-mandated inheritance in Georgia:

1. Tom dies without a will, leaving a wife, JoAnn, their ten-year old son, Joey, and Tom’s son Tommy from his previous marriage. Tommy is eighteen and in a drug rehab program. Tom had a brokerage account worth $300,000.00 in his name only. The result? JoAnn gets $100,000.00; Joey gets $100,000.00 that has to go into a court-supervised conservatorship account, to be turned over to him at age 18; and Tommy gets a check for $100,000.00, delivered to him at the rehab facility. Under Georgia law, children of a decedent and the surviving spouse share the probate estate, regardless of whether the children are also children of the surviving spouse, and they get their share when they reach majority (18).  

2. Arlene, a childless widow, lives in a house that she owns. Her stepdaughter, Cathy, who quit her job and has cared for Arlene twenty years, lives with her. Arlene thinks of Cathy as the daughter she never had. Arlene dies without a will, leaving a brother, Bill. Arlene’s deceased sister Martha left five children. Neither Bill nor Martha’s children have seen Arlene in decades. The result? Bill gets 50% interest in the house, and Martha’s children each get 10%. Cathy gets nothing, because stepchildren aren’t covered under Georgia intestate law.

Sadly, these harsh results are far from unusual. If you haven’t made a will, the state already has one for you, but your loved ones may not like the results. Carry out YOUR wishes, not the government’s. I have helped protect loved ones and families for nearly 20 years. To find out more, call me, John O. "Jack" Moore, at (770) 277-7767 or email me at johnomoorelaw@gmail.com for a free consultation. You may also visit my website at www.johnomoorelaw. 

Posted by: John O. "Jack" Moore, Atty. at Law AT 06:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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Jack O. Moore Law  |  245 W. Crogan Street |  Lawrenceville, GA 30046  |  Phone: (770) 277-7767  |  Email:johnomoorelaw@gmail.com 

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