SmithTaire Legal Blog
Learn more about our estate planning, probate and personal injury services.
A Father’s Day Message to Protect Your Children
June 20, 2020
Happy Father’s Day to all Fathers and Grandfathers! There are many gifts a child can give to their father, but the gift dads cherish the most is time. The ultimate gift a father can give to his children, or an adult child can give to their dad, is the time to create, update or communicate an estate plan.
A father’s job is to protect his family. Your estate plan is planning for a future that you can you can continue to influence even when you are gone. While no one likes to think about their death, updating your own estate plan or talking to your elderly father about his estate plan is a gift of time today, and peace of mind about the future.
Long-term protection can safeguard your children in the future. A well-designed estate plan and necessary legal documents will protect your legacy and keep your loved ones safe after you have passed on. Whether your family is a traditional 2 parent family, or you are a single dad or you are raising your children with your partner, you can plan for the unexpected and your family’s future by making an estate plan today.
ADULT CHILDREN OF ELDERLY FATHERS
Sadly, a lack of communication and poor planning can result in additional stress on families when a beloved father dies. Adult children can assist their dads and help them talk about the difficult subject of finances, estate planning and end-of-life decisions openly and honestly.
Helping your father preserve his legacy by discussing his final wishes and goals is a Father’s Day gift that will give you both peace of mind.
SmithTaire Legal Estate Planning Services
Estate planning does not have to be complicated, or expensive. Our legal services are designed to assist people in times of great need. We listen to our clients and create an estate plan to address their matters and advise on their best interests.
Fathers have unique concerns in estate planning. Prepare for the future of your children by contacting your trusted legal partner, the team at SmithTaire Legal. Our virtual office is open and we can help you via telephone, email, FaceTime, Zoom, DocuSign and tools. Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss your situation.
Estate Planning Tips for the Single Parent
June 4, 2020
There is so much happening in the world today. The coronavirus pandemic has caused many parents to wonder what would happen to their children if something were to happen to them. This is of particular concern for the single parent. For some parents, they have their child's other parent to protect their child's future. For single parents, the situation is quite different. Whether there is no co-parent involved, the other parent is unfit, deceased or simply incapable of caring for the child, having an estate plan is crucial to ensure the children are cared for in the event the unexpected happens.
WHY DO YOU NEED AN ESTATE PLAN?
A common misperception is that you only need an estate plan if you are wealthy or have a lot of assets. All adults need an estate plan. For parents, an estate plan is a crucial tool to communicate your wishes for your children, to protect your children’s assets and to appoint someone to care for your children in the event you are unable.
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I DIDN’T HAVE A PLAN?
If you fail to plan for your children, then the Court may have to decide what will happen to your children and your children’s assets. They could go to the other parent, there could be fights over what happens to them or the Court may have to appoint a third-party.
One of the major reasons to have an estate plan as a single parent is to appoint a guardian over your child. If the other parent is involved, then most likely the other parent will be appointed as guardian over the child; however, if the other parent is not involved (or incompetent) then the Court will look to the direction of the parent with physical possession of the child. A proper estate plan will incorporate a plan for the child in the event you become incapacitated or pass away.
An estate plan can appoint a conservator or trustee to manage any property, money or other assets in your estate on behalf of your minor children. These financial assets could include sources of income and financial support such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, insurance policies or social security benefits. The conservator/trustee may not be the same person as your children's guardian. This is especially important in the event the other parent is appointed as guardian over the child.
3 LEGAL DOCUMENTS A SINGLE PARENT SHOULD HAVE
If you are a single parent, these documents should be part of your estate plan:
1. Will or Trust
A will specifies your wishes to distribute your estate in the event of your death, while a trust manages the distribution of your assets either while you are living or after your death. This tool also allows you to appoint a guardian over your child and a trustee/conservator over your child’s money.
2. Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney (POA) authorizes another person to manage your financial affairs if you become unable to do so yourself. A POA can be temporary and you can put very specific conditions on what situations the power of attorney would go into effect. This is of crucial importance to make sure that your child’s essential needs are met in the event something unexpected happens to you and you are temporarily unable to provide for your child. Your Power of Attorney representative can handle your financial, tax and legal matters if you are not able to do so.
3. Advanced Health Care Directive
When married people become seriously ill, their spouse typically makes health care decisions. For a single parent, an advanced health care directive gives you the ability to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated and cannot communicate for yourself. It also gives you the ability to make decisions in advance regarding your treatment preferences such as whether you want to be on life support.
Single parents have unique concerns in estate planning. Prepare for the future by contacting your trusted legal partner, the team at SmithTaire Legal. During this difficult time, our virtual office is open and we can help you via telephone, email, FaceTime, Zoom, DocuSign and tools. Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss your situation.
Are You Protected?
3 Documents You Should Have in Place
April 8, 2020
Estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy or the elderly - an estate plan is an important tool to protect your family and loved ones in case the unexpected or inevitable happens. In today’s health and economic crisis, more families are looking at the plans they’ve made - or haven’t made - and rushing to the phone to contact their attorneys. Each state has its own laws covering what is a legally binding document - what is legal in Missouri may not be legal in Georgia.
If you own a business, are a health care worker, work in the food industry, are over 60 or have underlying health problems, the unfortunate reality is that you are most vulnerable to the long-term impacts of the coronavirus right now. There is no such thing as a perfect estate plan - things change and evolve. But having an estate plan in place will give you peace of mind today, and protect your family tomorrow.
3 Estate Planning Tools You Need Today
A will or trust is a legal document that states your final wishes and who is responsible for carrying them out including:
If you die without a will in Georgia, that is called intestate. When you die intestate, the state laws determine who will inherit your assets depending on whether you have a spouse, children or other living relatives. Even if you are separated, your spouse will get your stuff without a will!
If your will hasn’t been updated in a long time, or you’ve had major life changes such as births, deaths or a divorce, or moved to another state, it’s time to consult a lawyer to update your will or trust.
2. Advance Healthcare Directives
You need a legally binding document to explain who you want to make your healthcare decisions in the event you become temporarily incapacitated; these documents are called advance healthcare directives. Every situation is unique, and you may give your healthcare proxy to an adult child, a domestic partner, a parent or a close friend.
Your health care directive authorizes someone you trust to instruct your medical team on how you want to be cared for, what treatments you do or don’t want, and what your end-of-life decisions are. If you become ill, you are not in the best frame of mind to make those decisions. Plus, with #SocialDistancing and #ShelterInPlace orders, if you are hospitalized it may be physically impossible to enact a health care proxy or directive.
3. Power of Attorney
A Durable Power of Attorney lets a trusted person whom you choose make legal and financial decisions for you if you are incapacitated. A POA is temporary, not permanent, and you can put very specific conditions on what situations the power of attorney would go into effect. The person you give your POA to is legally acting on your behalf, so it’s important to pick someone whose judgment you trust and who is available to help you.
Your Power of Attorney agent can handle your financial, tax and legal matters if you are not able to do so.
As your trusted legal partner, our team at SmithTaire Legal is here to help you when you need it most. During this difficult time, our virtual office is open and we can help you via telephone, email, FaceTime, Zoom, DocuSign and tools. Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss your situation.
Helping You When You Need It Most:
SmithTaire Legal’s Virtual Office is Open for Business
April 3, 2020
With the well-being of our staff, our clients and our community as our top priority, the team at SmithTaire Legal is working from home while we practice social distancing. Our virtual office is open for normal business hours and you can schedule a consultation with an estate planning, probate or personal injury attorney to discuss your case.
We will conduct consultations by phone or video chat until further notice, using secure legal technology including email, FaceTime, Zoom, DocuSign and other tools. Our legal team has the technology and resources to work remotely and continue to serve our clients during this time. We will assist our clients and provide tele-lessons to help you get online if needed.
Plan For The Inevitable
Caring.com’s 2020 survey says only ⅓ of U.S. adults currently have estate planning documents such as a will or living trust – and only 16% of adults under age 35 have a will.
Our estate planning law firm will remain open to help you protect your family during this unprecedented global and local crisis. At SmithTaire, we have seen first hand what happens when you do not plan for the inevitable. One question our clients ask is,
How are virtual legal services different than online legal services?
What are Virtual Legal Services?
It is not always easy or even possible to meet in person with an attorney. People travel, have health restrictions or may be housebound due to weather. Virtual legal services allow someone to work with an attorney remotely using technology such as a phone, email or video to electronically execute a legally valid and enforceable:
SmithTaire Legal Virtual Services
FAQs About Virtual Legal Services
1. Can I Simply Create an Online Will or Trust?
Online legal documents are standardized templates to cover typical scenarios and are not legally recognized and enforced in every state. Moreover, in most cases when you draft your documents using online services there is a disclaimer specifically stating that the services are not a substitute for legal advice and according to sites like Legalzoom, they are not a law firm and do not represent you.
Virtual estate planning is conducted by a trained, licensed experienced estate planning attorney who represents you! Online wills and other DIY estate planning templates do not offer the same protections and oversight as working directly with an attorney who understands your unique situation and needs.
2. Is Virtual Estate Planning Legal in Georgia?
Virtual estate planning documents are legal and enforceable in Georgia, provided they are executed following Georgia laws and regulations.
3. State Estate Planning Laws Vary
A valid will in Tennessee may not be valid in Georgia. Each state has different laws and legal precedents on probate law. A local estate planning attorney will know the state laws on virtual wills, health directives and powers of attorney and understand how local courts interpret those laws.
3 Important Facts About Online Estate Planning
Virtual estate planning is NOT the same as DIY online estate planning. A DIY can cost your heirs money and add additional stress. A will that does not meet your state’s legal requirements or does not use smart asset management strategies can cost your loved ones time and money – exactly what you are trying to avoid.
1. DIY Legal Documents Don’t Always Save You Time or Money
Not understanding state probate laws and beneficiary designation rules or how to designate an executor and your wishes if your designated executor dies before you do important considerations. For example, in Georgia, you must have two witnesses to your will who are not interested parties. Not following your state’s probate laws can invalidate your will and leave your estate being designated intestate - or without a will.
2. Generic Templates
Online wills are generic templates that can’t accommodate unique circumstances or complicated estates. A will should be customized to meet your exact situation.
3. Additional Fees Monthly Consultation, Storage and Maintenance Fees
A low price for an online will or other online estate planning document is often misleading. Typically there are additional fees for services such as:
How Can SmithTaire Legal Help You Today?
Jammie Taire offers over 20 years of legal experience. Whether it concerns estate planning, health directives or other legal matters, SmithTaire Legal is here to guide you. Schedule an appointment with us today to discuss further details.