What happens if you die? "A question no one wants to think about but everyone should think abou
My husband and I were on a flight to Vegas and a horrifying thought crossed my mind. What if? What if the plane crashed and both of us passed away? Now my husband and I have traveled together on many occasions however now we had a 4 month old baby boy waiting on us to get back. This is what sparked my concern. So what if? Who would take care of my child? I know that someone in my family would and is more than capable of taking care of him, but I want that person to be my choice.
What if my family couldn't decide who would take care of him? Would there be some messy custody battle in court? Would this create a rift in our families? How would this effect my child? So what is the solution? How can I ensure this doesn't happen? We have the answer for you.
No one wants to think about death, but death is inevitable. The same way we prepare for the future and the unknown with health insurance and life insurance, we should prepare for death with a Will.
WILLS & ESTATES PROCESS
A will is a legal document that directs how certain property that you own at the time of death (called your probate estate) is distributed after your death. A will must be properly executed to be valid. Your will takes effect upon your death.
Your probate estate consists of all property owned by you at the time of your death that is not distributed at the time of your death under the terms of a contract or by operation of law. Probate property includes your tangible possessions such as clothing, jewelry, household furniture and furnishings, cars registered in your name, real estate titled in your name, bank accounts registered in your name with no pay on death designation, and stocks and bonds held in a account in your name with no transfer-on-death designation.
Non probate property (property that is not distributed under your will) includes life insurance with death beneficiary designation, pension and retirement accounts with a death beneficiary designation, property owned by you and another person as joint tenants with right of survivorship, and bank and brokerage accounts with pay-on-death or transfer-on-death designations.
BENEFITS OF A WILL
With a will you decide how your estate will be distributed and you may dispose of your property as you see fit. Without a will your estate is distributed to your heirs who are determined in accordance with state law. Heirs under Georgia law are:
Spouse; if there are no children (and no children who died before the decedent leaving living children of their own or descendants of living children)
The spouse and children if there are children, and the children of any child or children who died before the decedent (as well as the deceased child’s children also predeceased the decedent)
The parent if there is no spouse or children, descendants of deceased children, grandchildren, etc.
Brothers and sisters of the decedent and the descendants of any deceased brother or sister if none of the above are applicable.
If none of the above were living at the decedent’s death, the grandparents.
If none of the above, uncles and aunts and their descendants.
With a will you can nominate the person whom you want to be guardian of your minor children. Without a will the choice will be determined by a court. Property can also be distributed to Trustees of your choice to manage the property on behalf of incapacitated adults, minor children, children with special needs or beneficiaries who might need protection from creditors and their own unwise decisions. Without a will property might be distributed to these beneficiaries outright and minor children will receive their property upon reaching age 18.
With a will you can direct that your property be available to your surviving spouse during his or her lifetime and pass to your children (perhaps children from a previous marriage) upon the surviving spouse’s death. Without a will the property that is distributed to your surviving spouse will be distributed upon his or her death as the spouse see fits.
With a will you choose the person, bank or trust company to serve as executor of your estate. The executor will manage and distribute your estate in accordance with the law and terms of your will. Without a will, a court chooses an administrator of your estate at the request of your heirs, who may or may not agree with the choice.
With a will, your executor can be given full powers to sell your property and manage it without the permission of a court. Without a will your heirs must petition a court for the administrator to grant these powers.
With a will you can provide for gifts to charity of your choice from your estate.
CHANGES AND UPDATES
Your will does not take effect until you die and your will is admitted into probate. You can make changes to your will any time before death. A will is changed by executing a written document called a codicil that makes changes to an existing will or by executing a new will. You may revoke your will at any time before death. You should review your will at least once every two or three years. You should always review your will if you have a major life change such as a marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or a substantial increase or decrease in wealth.
An advance directive is a document that provides a person’s directions on the withholding of life-sustaining medical procedures in the event of a terminal condition or a state of permanent unconsciousness.
Our Firm charges hourly or flat fee rates for will and estate preparation. After a consultation we will be able to give you an estimate of time to create your will as well as fees. Supervision for the execution of the will is a separate fee. This fee may be paid in advance upon client request.
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