Thinking about end-of-life or disability can be unpleasant but establishing an estate plan remains one
of the most important moves you can make for your family. Estate planning is about the peace of
mind that you provide to your loved ones. Proper estate planning spares your loved ones the
expense, delay and frustration associated with managing your financial affairs when either
tragedy or the natural course of life occurs.
Dunlap Gardiner LLP helps develop estate plans that fulfill your legacy, while at the same time may reduce tax liabilities, limit expense associated with estate administration, and minimize the
possibility of costly litigation between beneficiaries. Our objective is to make sure your
estate is handled promptly, efficiently, and cost effectively.
Perhaps the most important things in estate planning is the creation of a will. A will is central in ensuring that your wishes are followed with regards to your assets, as it outlines who will receive your property upon your passing. A will also allows you to name a personal representative to administer your estate. Without a will, your belongings and estate will be subject to Georgia laws during the probate process and may not be distributed as you would like. The creation of a will is still a somewhat formal process and certain requirements should be met for your will to be most easily handled in probate. These include presenting the will in written form and making sure that it is witnessed and executed properly.
Unlike a will, a trust does not become effective only upon passing, but can be established during life, or inter vivos. The purpose of a trust is usually to hold assets for you, the “grantor,” or for others you choose, the “beneficiaries”. Once established and funded, a trust is then managed by one or more trustees who must ensure that it operates as the grantor has requested. A trust often allows an individual to have more control over how assets and funds are distributed to beneficiaries.
Dunlap Gardiner LLP understands that is can be difficult to navigate the many options available
for planning your estate in Georgia, which can encompass wills and trusts in all their varied forms. This is why our firm is dedicated to providing its clients with honest, straightforward and thoughtful estate planning advise. We listen to your needs and desires, and help you formulate an estate plan that is affordable and practical.
We can work with you to determine which
options may be best and will guide you through the process of creating the wills and trusts
best suited to your needs.
A power of attorney is a very useful planning tool. When an individual (called the “principal”) wants to give a power (e.g., to contract) that they possess to someone else (the “agent”), they may do so through a power of attorney. A power of attorney can be tailored to be very narrow or quite broad in what powers the principal wants to delegate to the agent.
You should always consult with an attorney when executing a power of attorney to discuss why you need a power of attorney and to ensure that the power of attorney you execute accurately reflects your desires.
Powers of attorney can be broad in scope (“General Power of Attorney and/or Durable Power of Attorney”) or limited to certain specific actions (“Limited Power of Attorney”):
* Durable Power of Attorney - is a general power of attorney with “durability” language. This
allows the power of attorney to remain in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated – most clients have the goal of naming an individual to act in this very circumstance, therefore this by far the most common.
* General Power of Attorney - gives broad power to act for the principal for a wide variety of matters, specified in the document, but is only applicable while the principal is competent.
* Limited Power of Attorney - allows the attorney-in-fact to perform acts only with respect to certain assets of the principal or for certain transactions.
Dunlap Gardiner has experienced attorneys who will work with you to protect your interests.
Finally, we recommend completing your estate planning with an advanced directive for health care. This legal document names an agent for healthcare and memorializes your preferences regarding life support and other life-sustaining measures. By taking control in directing these matters yourself, you are taking the pressure off your loved ones regarding potentially difficult medical decisions.
At any moment, any one of us could need assistance maintaining our health. At Dunlap Gardiner, we understand it’s not always easy to plan for serious medical issues or end-of-life circumstances, but we encourage you to be proactive so that you and your loved
ones know that there is a plan in place regarding your care
and how that care is administered.
With advanced directives in Georgia, you can gain some control
over your care even if you cannot actively make decisions for yourself. With compassionate guidance, Dunlap Gardiner LLP
will be hands-on in making sure the right decisions are
made, and when the time comes, you have control over
your wishes regarding your care so that you get the care
you want, how you want it.