Marietta Estate Planning in the Comfort of Your Home

living wills

This is a question I get all the time. Parents are often concerned about who they should name as Executor of their estate, and whether or not one child’s feelings would get hurt if he or she was not named as Executor.

There is no hard and fast rule to whether or not children should be named as Co-Executors. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that Co-Executors work TOGETHER. It’s not an either/or situation. They both have to sign off on all matters relating to the estate. If your children do not work well together, do not name them as Executors expecting that this experience will draw them closer – it will not. If you have a large number of children, and you name them all as Co-Executors, you are creating a logistical nightmare.

It’s best to choose a person who is trustworthy, level-headed, and detail-oriented to serve as your Executor. If you have more than one child who meets this description, and you feel that they would work well together and benefit from having more than one Executor, naming Co-Executors is not a bad idea. If you have a large number of children and/or children who do not get along well, naming them as Co-Executors is not a good idea.

After you decide who you want to serve as Executor, it’s best to ask him/her if they are willing while you are alive. Once that decision has been made, you should consider letting your other children know as well, and let them know why they were not chosen. This can help to avoid hard feelings after your death – you probably know families who have been torn apart after a death because of hard feelings or a simple misunderstanding.

If you have any questions about who you should name as Executor, call me, Sarah White, at 678-453-6490. I work extensively with families on these issues, and I can help you sort through your situation.

This is actually a question I get asked a lot, but in Georgia there’s not really a document called a “revocable living will”.  Typically, when people ask me about revocable living wills, they are confusing two documents – a revocable living trust, and a living will. Although both documents have the word “living” in them, they are actually two separate things.

Revocable living trusts are documents people execute while they’re living, they title all of their assets to them, and then when they pass away their estate doesn’t have to go through probate (if done correctly). Although most of my clients in Georgia actually don’t need a revocable living trust, a few do.

A living will is a document that states your wishes about life support if you’re unable  to make those decisions yourself. In Georgia, we now use a document called an Advance Directive for Health Care, which replaces living wills. (And FYI,  living wills are revocable, which I guess means that there are technically documents called revocable living wills, but when clients ask about them they virtually always are getting two terms confused).

I hope this helps clears up any confusion. If you have any questions about living wills, Georgia Advance Directives for Healthcare, living trusts, or any estate planning-related matters, feel free to call me, Sarah White, Marietta estate planning attorney, for a free phone consultation at 678-453-6490. I work with clients in the surrounding counties, including Cobb, Bartow, Cherokee, Douglas and Paulding.

A 2009 article on CNN.com mentioned that scores of people are being sold on the idea of buying a “living trust” when they really don’t need one.

Living trusts are designed to hold all assets until a person’s death, at which time the trust distributes the assets to the person’s beneficiaries. The article points out living trust kits, which run around $2,000, are being sold door to door or over the phone. The salespeople sometimes use scare tactics such as “your estate will be eaten up by taxes if you don’t have a living trust” or “your estate could be tied up for years if you don’t have a living trust”.

The article mentions that the only people who really might need a living trust are those with loved ones with special needs, who own a business, or own real estate in more than one state. According to the AARP, only about 5% of the population needs a living trust.

I am going to start a Youtube channel where I will specifically answer on video the questions I most frequently get from clients.

Two of the questions I most frequently get are: do I need to file these documents somewhere, and what do I do with them now?

In Georgia, a will is not filed anywhere until death, when it is presented to the probate court to be probated. You may wish to give your doctor, nursing home or hospital a copy of your advance directive for healthcare (also known as a “living will” or “healthcare power of attorney”). You may wish to give your financial power of attorney to the person who you authorized to use the power — but then again, you may wish to hang on to that power of attorney until it is needed.

As far as where to keep them, if you have a safe deposit box I would keep them there. If not, a home fireproof safe should be sufficient. You should keep copies at a second location.