A  P R O F E S S I O N A L   C O R P O R A T I O N

 Estate Planning

The firm can provide assistance in the area of estate planning.  Depending upon a client's needs, this can include the preparation of a

If we can assist you in the preparation of any of these instruments, please feel free to contact us.  To make the process simpler, you can complete a simple questionnaire which will gather basic information, and return it to us.  The questionnaire can be downloaded from our Questionnaire page and sent to us by fax or e-mail.  We can then discuss your situation and prepare those documents that are best for you. 

 Last Will and Testament

A Last Will and Testament is an instrument that is effective only upon the death of the person signing the Last Will (called a testator).  This instrument can do more than simply transfer property upon your death.  For example, you can provide gifts of specific property (including charitable gifts), you can name the person you want to administer your estate and who you want as a guardian for your children, and you can also name a person to administer any property gifted to your children or to minors in a trust.  This type of trust is called a testamentary trust (a trust written in the Last Will but does not become effective until after death) and can provide general or specific instructions for the health, education, maintenance and support of your children or other beneficiaries.

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Other Estate Planning Documents

In addition to Last Wills and Testaments, there are other instruments that are important in estate planning. Generally, these other instruments are effective while you are alive but unable to make certain decisions.  They are durable financial powers of attorney, advance directives for health care, and designations of standby guardians.  In addition, living trusts can be utilized to administer and distribute property both during your lifetime and after your death.

 a.   Georgia Power of Attorney.  A power of attorney is an instrument that appoints someone else (your agent) to act on your behalf.  It can be effective immediately or upon a certain event, such as upon your incapacity.  A power of attorney is durable because it is effective even while you are incapacitated.  The Georgia Power of Attorney became effective in Georgia in 2018 and gives your agent the authority to make certain financial-related decisions and to take certain actions during your incapacity, including transfers of real property.  If you wish, it can even give your agent specific authority such as changing your beneficiary designations and the ability to delegate their authority to someone else.

 b.   Advance Directive for Health Care.  This instrument appoints an agent to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make those decisions.  It can provide your treatment preferences both in general and in various specific situations, including end-of-life.  It can also give the agent authority to make certain decisions after death, such as organ donation, authorize an autopsy and make arrangements for a final disposition of your body, such as burial or cremation. 

 c.   Designation of Standby Guardian and Medical Authorization.  A Designation of Standby Guardian is intended to be a short-term (up to four months) instrument that names someone to serve as a Standby Guardian for your minor child or children in the event that you are either physically or mentally unable to take care of them.  The Standby Guardian is given authority as a guardian for a short period without a court appointing a guardian.  The Standby Guardian agrees in writing to serve in this capacity.   

A Medical Authorization is also a short-term document for minor children.  If parents leave a minor child or children with another person or persons and are unavailable at the time a child becomes ill or is injured, the Medical Authorization agent is given authority to make medical decisions with respect to that child.  Unlike the Designation of Standby Guardian that require parents to be unable to care for their minor child or children, for a Medical Authorization, the parents are temporarily unavailable to make medical decisions.

 d.   Living Trust.  A living trust is an instrument that provides for the administration of specific property both during the lifetime of the person who puts property into the trust, and also after that person dies.  The administration of the property is by a person called a trustee for the benefit of one or more persons called the beneficiaries, all in accordance with the terms of the trust.  The trust is created during the lifetime of the maker of the trust, and property is transferred into the trust either during the lifetime of that person, or after death by a Last Will or otherwise.  There are usually specific reasons for creating a living trust, and we will be happy to discuss them with you.

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