Practice

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Estate Planning

Basic Will Plan

Foundation Living Trust

Estate Tax Planning

georgia medicaid

Asset Protection

Domestic Asset Protection Trust

Offshore Asset Protection Trust

Medicaid Asset Protection Trust

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Elder Law / Medicaid Plan

Medicaid / Long-term Care Planning

Special Needs Trusts

Probate & Estate Administration

Guardianship / Probate 

Estate Planning

Everyone needs estate planning!

First, what is an estate?

Your estate is simply everything you own, from your home, additional real estate, bank accounts, investments, retirement benefits from your employer, individual retirement accounts, insurance policies, collectibles, and personal belongings.

When you start adding it up— especially when you add in the death benefits of your insurance policies– you may realize like most people do, that you actually own a lot more than you think.

Why do people arrange estate planning?

Most people use estate planning tools because they want to control the beneficiaries who will receive their assets after they die, and they want this to happen with the least amount going to legal fees and taxes. But estate planning is not just about what happens after you die. A good estate plan will also protect you at incapacity. It will let you–not the courts– keep control of your assets and control of decision about your medical care when you can no longer handle your own affairs.

Estate planning includes the following plans:
  • Specialized Will (Companion Will & Special Needs Trust for a spouse)
  • Trust (Revocable/Irrevocable Medicaid Trust): managing your assets during lifetime or in the event of incapacity, distributing and protecting your assets at death
  • Powers of attorney for health: appointing someone whom you sincerely trust to make medical treatment decisions for you if you are unable to communicate your wishes to doctors
  • Powers of attorney for property: appointing someone whom you trust to make decisions for you when you are unable to manage your own financial affairs because you lack mental capacity
  • Living will / Healthcare directive: a written document that directly informs your doctors that you do not want extraordinary medical measures taken, especially those that would cause you pain or discomfort if those measures would only prolong the dying process
  • HIPAA: a written authorization from the patient that a health care provider or health care clearinghouse cannot disclose medical information to anyone other than the patient or the person appointed under state law to make health care decisions for the patient.
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Trust Management
A trust is a legal document that “entrusts” property to a trustee (a bank, attorney, individual or trust company) to manage for the maker/trust owner. And when applicable distributed to person(s) designated by the maker/trust owner known as the trust beneficiary. Trusts usually involve very specific and detailed instructions on how a trustee is to carry out the duty of managing or distributing the property on behalf of the maker and beneficiary. Trusts are most often used with estate planning. The purpose of estate planning and preparation is to minimize the cost and streamline the process of distributing assets to the beneficiary. Here are some of the more common reasons people create trusts in estate planning.
  • To avoid probate
  • To minimize or eliminate estate taxes
  • To create life insurance trusts
  • To avoid capital gains taxes on the sale of property
  • To create an annuity income through charitable gifting
  • To receive a charitable gifting income tax deduction
  • To manage assets on behalf of a minor or someone who can’t handle his or her own affairs

Asset Protection

Protecting your family from Taxes, Lawsuits, and Probate

Debtor/Creditor law implicates, any assets you can get your hands on, your creditors and predators are capable of taking from you. Many people wish to protect their personal business and/or professional assets from unknown potential creditors, unforeseen lawsuits, and nursing home costs. Asset protection techniques, such as irrevocable trusts, are designed to safeguard your assets from such potential predators. You will gain safety and security, while resting assured with peace of mind.
Individuals who are in high risk occupation such as but not limited to doctors, lawyers, real estate developers and very wealthy individuals that can be targets of creditors and lawsuits. Also, individuals who have family issue such as divorce or child’s divorce.
  • Control your property for your benefit
  • Give what you want to who you want
  • Give it how you want, when you want and the way you want
  • Save every possible dollar from taxes, probate, court costs, and creditor claims
Life insurance represents a highly cost-effective and tax-efficient method of finding for estate liquidity and other planning. In addition, as a wealth accumulation or a wealth preservation vehicle, life insurance is attractive because it offers income tax-deferred accumulation of cash within the policy, income tax-favored access to policy cash, and income tax-free death proceeds. The question then becomes how to best structure policy ownership so that liquidity is available when needed-undiminished by taxes. With a well-structured life insurance policy, it can play a vital role in many aspects of estate planning including providing for estate liquidity, finding a business succession plan, providing an estate equalization bequest, a charitable bequest, or even a family legacy. The ILIT (irrevocable life insurance trust) is designated the owner and beneficiary of the policy. You appoint a trustee to manage the policy, in trust, on behalf of the trust beneficiaries (typically your family), according to instructions you incorporated into the trust–thereby maintaining some measure of indirect control.
Several States have adopted legislation that provide by various degrees of asset protection. If properly set up and maintained, the Domestic Asset Protection Trust will be significant barrier to creditors and will afford significant leverage to the debtor with respect to its negotiations with the creditor.
It is a trust that sets up in an offshore jurisdiction which has proactive trust legislation providing for substantial protection against creditors. One of the greatest advantages of the Offshore Asset Protection Trust is the fact that by its very nature any legal attack against its assets are transferred abroad to a different legal system.
A. Most foreign jurisdictions do not recognize U.S. judgments. B. Some foreign jurisdiction require a much more difficult burden of proof for a creditor to challenge asset transfers to Offshore Asset Protection Trusts. C. Some jurisdictions have a statute of limitations for challenging asset transfers to a trust that begins to run on the date of transfer. D. Fees and expenses in litigation in the foreign jurisdictions are going to be substantial thereby serving as a strong deterrent to foreign litigation.

Elder Law / Medicaid Plan

Elder law is not just for the elderly. Elder law focuses on asset protection and long-term care planning by using tools such as estate planning, disability planning, and Medicaid benefit matters to ensure the fulfillment of long-term care needs.

Medicaid Planning (Proactive/Crisis Planning)

The purpose of Medicaid planning is to protect you or a loved one from becoming impoverished as well as to preserve assets for future generations. This planning is needed if you or a loved one is currently in a nursing home/assisted living facility, will be going to one in the near future, or just in need of long term care.

Long-term care planning (Proactive Planning)

Planning for long term care needs now will help protect you in the future. There are currently over 78 million baby boomers in the United States who will retire over the next two decades. The average cost of a year of nursing home care today is nearly $100,000 a year. Thus, through proactive planning, you and your family can prepare for unexpected long-term care expenses.

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Nursing Home Costs and Protecting Assets

Nursing homes are extremely expensive. Depending on the geographic area, nursing home costs can be as much as $10,000 to $ 12,000 a month. Any retirement savings a nursing home resident has accumulated during his/her lifetime is often quickly depleted.

 

Members of a family, who provide long-term care services and housing prior to the need for a nursing home, are not recognized by Medicaid for their sacrifice and hard work. Family members are not allowed to receive any transfers of money from the Medicaid recipient or the spouse.

 

There are legal ways to transfer more money or income to a healthy spouse or to transfer assets to family members. However, our law office understands Medicaid transfer rules and can help with providing additional benefits for a healthy spouse or transferring assets to other deserving family members.

Life Insurance for Long Term Care Planning

Life insurance can be used as an alternative for funding the cost of long term care. If someone planning for the eventuality of long term care is concerned about losing assets that would normally be passed on to the children or be needed by surviving spouse, that person can invest a portion of those assets in life insurance and leverage a death benefit payout.

Another use for life insurance for the elderly is in paying the cost of final expenses such as funeral and burial.

Guardianship

This is the legal process of appointing a competent adult to take on the responsibilities, care, custody, and control of an incapacitated person’s (ward), personal property interests. Guardianship is needed typically in three situations:
  • Guardianship for an incapacitated senior
  • Guardianship for a minor
  • Guardianship for a developmentally disabled adult

Probate

Most people have heard of probate. Probate is the process where the court has ultimate authority on deciding how a person’s assets and debts are distributed after a person dies. It involves many state laws and rules that must be strictly followed. This can be very overwhelming and stressful, especially when you are grieving the loss of a loved one.

 

We take pride in assisting you step-by-step during the entire process and strive to always keep you well informed. What separates us from others is our deep commitment to always be available for you, open to address any questions or concerns you may have.
It is very important not to wait too long before contacting an experienced attorney after a loved one’s death because there are numerous issues that are extremely time-sensitive and require immediate attention, such as dealing with creditors, taxes, preserving different types of property, court filings and notifying certain persons and entities as required by law.

 

If you are named as executor under a will or are a family member of a person who died without a will, we would more than happy to discuss your situation and provide options that would result in the most cost savings for you while also allowing the beneficiaries to receive their inheritance with the least amount of delay.