As an experienced Georgia estate attorney, it is my duty to be up front about the driving force behind this article, which is your death. While nobody likes to think about their own passing, there is nothing more definite than the fact that this will occur. Some people are have heard the old saying that there are two things sure in life: “Death and Taxes” – After many years of practicing law, I have heard about many people who have altogether avoided taxes and been an integral part of assisting many clients in legally minimizing and/or diminishing significant taxes they would have paid without proper estate planning or having consulted our Firm.
Having said this, to date, I have yet to see anyone steer clear of death.
The fact of the matter is, it will happen to you, it’s just a matter of when and how. So, in knowing this, it is essential that you prepare for this inevitable moment; and, the sooner the better. Let’s discuss why.
First, there are many common misperceptions which surround estate planning. The fact is, whether your “rich”, “poor” or somewhere in the middle of these commonly referred to social terms for wealth, we all have some level of need for estate planning and the sooner you engage in estate planning, the more benefits you stand to gain. These range from potential tax benefits you are entitled to and may not be aware of to the peace of mind that your affairs are in order should you become incapacitated, disabled or your inevitable death should occur. Please also be aware that your estate planning is an ongoing process and once your estate plan is in place, it can be altered to keep up with your circumstances, should they change. The Libby Law Firm, LLC, with its client’s permission, memorializes all its client’s estate plans in an easily updateable, editable digital, electronic and physical form.
In my Estate Planning practice, I see the countless severe problems which arise when people die without making a will, powers of attorney, health care directives (commonly called living wills, powers of attorney for healthcare or health care surrogate) or doing any other estate planning prior to the need for these important documents. I enthusiastically recommend that each and every one of us take the time to have an estate planning lawyer assess your past, present and likely future state of affairs to formulate a proper estate plan for you. While the costs of this may be a major concern to many of you, I urge you that it is well worth the reasonably priced cost of an estate planning lawyer and that you may be surprised at the cost efficient estate planning packages that many firms have to offer you. Please understand that you are putting into effect some of the most important documents you will ever sign in your life, preparing your legacy and giving yourself the peace of mind that a proper and effective estate plan will give you.
It is also important to me that I emphasize that you have an attorney prepare an effective estate plan for you and have this plan set into motion. All too many times I have seen people try and engage in their own estate planning by purchasing forms at an office supply store, over the Internet, or buying some other inexpensive estate planning tool at the many places these forms are available. While these forms claim to be effective and a suitable substitute for an estate planning lawyer, in my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. Make no doubt about it; unless you have significant legal estate planning experience and taxation knowledge to alter these forms and edit them to be compliant with Federal and Georgia law, you are making a HUGE mistake by preparing your own estate planning documents!
I have personally seen the devastating effect that these forms have caused when improperly done and the nightmarish effects they have on the loved ones you leave behind, and the significant monies that are expended on lawyers after your death trying to clean matters up. Often times, when these forms are used, the estate plan that was trying to be created is not compliant with Georgia law and not effective. This is not to mention the family disharmony, undesirable and detrimental tax consequences, or other adverse effects that may occur. In short, make an estate plan using a cost effective and efficient estate planning lawyer to draft your estate planning documents per your wishes so that they are effective, enforceable and leave your legacy as you wished.