Fundamentals Of Your Estate Plan

At the Law Office of Donald F. Hawbaker in Griffin, Georgia, clients have access to clear information. Understanding definitions and knowing how to put an estate plan in place is the first step toward completion of your estate plan.

Attorney Donald F. Hawbaker will gladly share the basics with you personally. Here are some concepts that will help get the conversation started.

Key Definitions

When you discuss your estate planning goals with Mr. Hawbaker, it will help to understand these basic concepts:

A will expresses your wishes as to how your assets should be distributed upon your death. You may also name an executor, name a guardian or guardians for your minor children and include a trust as part of this document. Your will can serve as a pour-over will to account for assets not included in your trust.

A revocable trust keeps assets out of probate and allows for a smooth transition of control and full ownership to a trustee and/or other beneficiaries after your death.

A financial power of attorney allows a designated agent (such as your closest family member) to handle your financial affairs if you are alive but unable to speak for yourself. Depending on the specific provisions of the power of attorney, your agent will likely be able to gain access to your bank accounts, pay bills for you and file your income taxes if necessary.

An advance directive for health care designates a decision-maker who may have the authority to instruct doctors to discontinue life support, for example. Your advance directive can also specify your health care choices such as whether you would want a blood transfusion or a feeding tube if such measures would prolong your life.

Steps In The Process Of Getting An Estate Plan In Place

Do an inventory of documents you already have: perhaps a will from another state or a health care directive provided by your medical clinic. Also consider life insurance policies, your mortgage and other documents that may have some type of asset transfer provision built in.

Do an inventory of assets and debts: bank accounts, real estate, vehicles, household goods, business interests, retirement accounts (personal or employer-managed), investment properties, stocks and bonds, other business interests and more.

Talk over or write out your estate planning goals. Do you intend to pass on assets in equal proportions to all your children? Do you intend to give charitable gifts?

Be ready to share this information with an estate planning lawyer to begin updating or formalizing your estate plan.

Why Not 'Do It Yourself?'

Despite all that is at stake in estate planning, some people want to take shortcuts, save money or avoid thinking too long and hard about death. They sometimes find documents on internet sites or create their own wills, perhaps by copying a family member's will.

So what's the problem? People who take these actions inevitably leave out critical steps and information or fail to get their documents signed properly. Of clients who have brought such documents to the attention of the Law Office of Donald F. Hawbaker, at least 99 percent of them have presented fundamentally flawed documents that would not stand up in a court of law.

There is no substitute for personalized legal counsel and up-to-date information and guidance applicable to your unique set of facts.

What Stands In Your Way Of Getting It Done?

It is no secret that Americans in general tend to avoid thinking or talking much about death. Contemplating our mortality can be uncomfortable. Many think they cannot afford a complete estate plan. Many think as along as they are healthy, the need for a will and other estate planning documents is abstract and far off.

We all need to be aware of the possibility that any day may be our last. A car accident, a fire, a heart attack or an act of violence can bring the reality of death into a family at any time. Taking care of our families and our assets is a fundamental responsibility of any adult. Estate planning is a key part of lifetime financial planning.

Remember: When the Law Office of Donald F. Hawbaker sets up a revocable living trust for you, Mr. Hawbaker and legal staff will take care of all details for you. You will not be left with loose ends or lengthy 'homework assignments.'

What More Do You Need To Know?

Bring your questions to the attention of lawyer Donald F. Hawbaker and get the specific answers you need such as, "Georgia does not have an estate tax." Schedule a free initial consultation and a more personalized version of elder law advice and "Estate Planning 101." To discuss your legal concerns with Donald F. Hawbaker, call or text 404-668-3790 or complete our contact form for a free attorney consultation.  Do not put off until tomorrow what you should do today.