A Note From Paige
Thank You for a Fantastic 2014!
This month’s newsletter is the last one for 2014, and I’d like to thank you for your support and your business. I’m truly thankful that I had a great year as my law firm and business continue to grow.
This holiday season, consider giving yourself the gift of an estate plan. The end of the year is the perfect time to create or update an estate plan. Go ahead and get your new year started by ensuring that your loved ones will be cared for when you’re gone. Please contact me if you’d like to begin the estate planning process or if you’d like to update your existing documents. If you haven’t read your documents in a while, now is an excellent time to do so. Or, better yet, I’m happy to help you in the review and highlight items you should consider.
I have three exciting announcements that I’d like to share.
- I accepted the offer to be President of the Decatur Chapter of BNI International. BNI is an organization that provides networking opportunities for professionals from a variety of industries and disciplines. With over 170,000 members worldwide, BNI is the largest business networking organization in the world. Last year alone, BNI generated 5.4 million referrals resulting in $6.5 billion in business for its members. We offer members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts and most importantly, business referrals. Our Decatur Chapter is continuing to grow and thrive and along with my “sales team,” I am looking forward to what we can accomplish in 2015.
- I am scheduled to speak at the November 20th meeting. My presentation will focus on basics of estate planning, and it’s open to the public. Just contact me if you’d like to come attend. If you can’t make the meeting on the 20th, our Decatur chapter is also having a visitor day on December 4th for those who are interested in growing their businesses. Invitations are being sent out, so please contact me soon if you’d like to receive an invitation.
- The firm has created updated estate planning questionnaires for married persons, single individuals, and those in domestic partnerships. Make sure to download the latest version on the left hand side of this newsletter and feel free to pass them along to your contacts.
I am frequently approached by folks who are mention that they really need to have a will made or need some assistance with a business legal issue. If you're interested in scheduling time to speak with me, please answer the following brief questions.
Would you like to be contacted about scheduling an estate plan or business legal consultation?
Myth Busted: "Estate Planning is For the Wealthy"
Estate planning can be a daunting process—ensuring that all of your affairs are in order can be overwhelming if you don’t know where to start. However, once you’ve started, maintaining and updating your estate plan becomes equally as important as that first step toward creating your estate plan. If you think that estate planning is just for the wealthy or people who have “settled down” in their careers or family lives, think again. Consider the following tips on how individuals in earlier stages of their lives can and should put together an estate plan that is relevant to their current lives.
I am going to do a multi-part series (to continue in 2015), taking various ages into account. Stay tuned!
Estate Planning in Your 20's
Estate planning may seem like something that older or wealthier people should worry about, but young adults should think about their estates too. You may not have amassed the assets of your parents or mentors, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t own assets that you want to pass onto your loved ones. If you die without a will, Georgia’s law controls what happens to your estate, which often results in undesirable outcomes.
Here are six things you may want to include in your estate plan:
- Provisions for a Significant Other: If you’re in a relationship but aren’t married, you should include language in your estate plan that provides for a significant other. If you don’t include your significant other in your estate plan—or if you die without an estate plan at all—then your partner won’t be eligible to receive any of your assets under common law. (This situation famously occurred after Steig Larsson, author of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, passed away.)
- Provisions for Pets: You can’t give all of your money or a valuable collection to your dog or cat, but you can set aside financial resources and provide instructions on how your loved ones can take care of your companion animals once you’ve passed away.
- Charity Donations: If you have a favorite charity or non-profit organization, consider leaving some of your assets to them in your estate plan.
- List of Digital Assets: Your social media accounts, digital photos, and online payment accounts are all examples of digital assets. Providing a list of all of these accounts and authorizing a representative to receive the document makes it easier for your loved ones to access and protect that valuable information.
- Beneficiary Information for 401k accounts and life insurance plans: If you have a 401k or life insurance policy, you should ensure you have assigned a beneficiary and contingent beneficiary to those accounts and include the relevant documentation in your estate plan.
- Advance Health Care Directive. You should also consider creating an Advance Health Care Directive, which combines both a living will and a power of attorney for health care in Georgia. The Advance Health Care Directive allows you to appoint an agent who can make heath care-related decisions on your behalf, and it allows you to direct the types of life-sustaining procedures and nourishment you want to receive if you are in a terminal condition or are unconscious.
Estate Planning in Your 30's
As you get older, things change. You may outgrow your prior estate plan, so it’s important to review your plan periodically and make updates as needed. I recommend people review their documents every two to three years unless a major life change happens. This is an especially important step after a milestone such as an engagement, a marriage, the birth or adoption of a child, a divorce, or even a death. In addition to reviewing and updating your prior documents, here are two additional provisions you might want to include in your updated plan:
- Provisions for children: If you have minor children, you should include a guardianship provision and instructions on how you want your children to be raised. Your plan should also be updated to set aside assets you want your children to have.
- Small Business Provisions: If you own a business, you should create a plan to ensure that your business can make a smooth transition after you’re gone. This plan can take several forms—you could arrange a buy-sell agreement with your business partners, you could arrange for the business to be sold, or you could arrange for a family member to take over.
Although the preceding suggestions are framed toward adults in their twenties and thirties, they are applicable to people of all ages. Regardless of your age or where you are in the estate planning process, it’s important to revisit and reassess your plan to ensure it is updated when your circumstances change.
Whether you’re starting from scratch or have some older documents that need to be updated, I can help you at any stage of your estate plan. Please contact me to schedule a consultation.