Gainesville Estate Planning Law Blog

Getting married late in life? Discuss estate planning

Many Georgia residents are waiting until they are older to get married, perhaps age 40, 50 or beyond. There are many reasons people say they're choosing to wait to get married until later in life. Getting married at age 55 is definitely different than getting married at age 25. The older spouses are, the more critical it is for them to discuss estate planning as they transition into married life.

Someone who marries at an older age might already have executed a last will and testament. It is imperative that wills be updated if a marriage takes place after one has been signed. It's natural that an estate owner would want to make a new spouse a beneficiary, which can easily be incorporated into an estate plan.

Long-term care planning: Build a strong support network

In Georgia and across the country, the U.S. population is aging. If you're age 65 or older, you may find yourself focusing more on long-term care planning than you used to at a younger age. As time passes, it is understandable that you want to make sure your estate plan is organized and up to date, that you have discussed your wishes, needs and goals with your  loved ones, and are building a network of support that you can tap into for assistance, as needed.

If you've noticed that you are experiencing more health concerns in your 60s than you did a decade or so ago, that is also understandable. Many older people, even those who have enjoyed good health most of their lives, begin to see and feel signs of aging as they near age 70. In some cases, assisted living becomes a viable option when it is no longer possible to sustain an independent living lifestyle.

What to look for in a nursing home for a loved one

Aging can be hard on both the body and the mind. People begin to lose their flexibility and strength. They become more susceptible to illnesses. In some cases, they also begin to experience cognitive decline, which could involve issues such as memory loss or frequent bouts of confusion.

If your loved one has physical or mental symptoms that worry you, that could be a warning sign that they will not be able to live on their own for much longer. If you work full time, have children in the house or simply don't have the skills to provide care, your aging loved one will likely need to consider moving into a nursing home facility.

Bank named conservator of lake property, sibling rift results

Any Georgia parent who has six children likely understands that sibling rivalries are not uncommon in life. However, most parents hope their kids will be friends as well as siblings. As parents age, disagreements can arise between brothers and sisters that cause serious, sometimes even permanent rifts. Such is the case for six siblings in another state who disagreed about a situation involving their father's lakefront property and a bank that was made conservator and guardian of a trust.

The man had built a successful career and had purchased two cottages by a lake that he enjoyed with his family for years. He especially loved boating and was saddened when several heart attacks prompted the need for a wheelchair, which made him unable to board and disembark his boat. One of his sons invented a product that could electrically hoist his father's wheelchair onto the boat.

How to fund a living trust

Georgia estate owners who wish to set aside property for their loved ones, but who also wish to help family members avoid probate, may wish to explore options that can help them achieve both goals. Setting up a living trust is a common means for managing property while keeping taxes low. However, merely setting up a trust is not enough; in fact, it is no good at all if property or assets are never transferred to it.

There are typically two ways to fund a living trust. A person can transfer property or assets to a living trust while he or she is still alive. Another option is to arrange for all assets to pour over into the trust after the estate owner has died. This is commonly referred to as a pour-over will.

Help your aging loved ones plan for future medical decisions now

Medical decisions have a way of being intimidating, especially if you have to make them on behalf of your family members or loved ones without their direct input. You may get left trying to guess what you think someone would want in a specific situation. Even if you previously talked about it with them, you may not fully recall the conversation or their wishes could have changed since then.

Being in a situation where you need to make unguided medical decisions on behalf of someone else is stressful. Those close to or past the age of retirement should consider the importance of committing their medical preferences to writing. Even younger adults can benefit, as accidents or sudden medical events occur without warning.

Who will advocate for your loved one's assisted living needs?

When you were growing up, your parents likely made personal sacrifices in order to provide for your best interests. Perhaps they went without luxuries or vacations so that they could pay for braces you needed for your teeth or send you to sports camp every summer. Now, you're older and so are they, and you want to help them transition to a Georgia assisted living center while making sure their best interests are protected.

There's a lot more involved in helping an aging parent transfer to an assisted living environment than finding a place to live. There are also numerous financial issues to consider and perhaps medical needs that your loved one might have, which might require specialized care. If your parent has shown signs of dementia and has named you as power of attorney in an estate plan, you may soon be making financial or medical decisions on his or her behalf.

Naming the right person as trustee for a special needs trust

The creation of a special needs trust is one of the simplest and most secure methods for family members to provide for someone they love who struggles with a physical or developmental disability. As the name implies, a special needs trust benefits an individual with unique and special needs.

Family members can put many different restrictions on the assets held in a special needs trust. These restrictions allow them to protect their loved ones from making financial mistakes or from the general inability to manage their own finances. In order for a trust to offer real protection, it also requires administration by a trustee.

Is it time to talk to your parent about assisted living?

Most adult children in Georgia and beyond are willing to provide whatever support they can for their aging parents. What the "big picture" of this support might look like is unique in every household. For some, it means stopping by once a week to mow the lawn, drive mom or dad to his or her eye doctor appointment, or make a run to the grocery store. For others, however, much more daily living support is needed; in fact, many adult children are currently in situations where they see signs that their parents might need to transition to assisted living.

It can be quite a delicate topic. There's a fine line between preserving an aging parent's integrity and trying to convince him or her that the time has come to make some lifestyle changes. This is particularly true if a son or daughter sees a need but the parent either doesn't recognize it or is living in denial.

Sisters do not trust brother re petition to be legal guardian

When adult children in Georgia join forces to help an aging parent, differences of opinion can get in the way of quality care. Sibling rivalry often works its way into elder care issues, especially regarding whether a legal guardian might be needed in a particular situation. Three siblings in another state are currently involved in a legal battle over such issues.

Two sisters and one brother disagree about their mother's mental state. The brother has filed a petition asking the court to appoint him as a legal guardian to care for his mother's affairs. He says she is suffering from dementia and is no longer capable of acting on her own behalf.

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