A Last Will and Testament is the best place to designate a person to take charge of the assets of someone who has just passed away and to tell that person how to distribute what has been left behind.
There are many advantages of having a Will:
A Will can:
Should someone die without a Will, then his or her assets will be distributed according to Georgia’s intestacy laws, which means that the assets will be distributed to the descendants or closest living relatives in shares prescribed by state law. We help guide our clients throughout their decision making process and walk them step by step through their often difficult decisions. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that all clients understand how their documents will carry out their wishes. Estate planning documents should ensure that loved ones have as easy a time as possible going through the probate process.
We also help our clients with beneficiary designations and property titles, so that family members are not overburdened with probate administration.
Trusts are like picnic baskets that tell one person, the Trustee, how to hold and manage assets for other people, who are the beneficiaries.
Trusts can either be "testamentary", meaning they are created after death through a Will, or they can be “living,” which means that they are created during the client’s lifetime. There are many reasons to create Trusts. One good reason is to smooth out and speed up the transfer of property outside the state where a client lives. Without a Trust, a separate, ancillary probate would have to be opened in every state in which a person has property. Putting the out of state property into a Trust would help avoid the problem, as there would be no need to probate the property.
Trusts can also keep beneficiaries from getting an inheritance before they are responsible enough to handle the money. A Trust can set ages of withdrawal and can limit occasions on which beneficiaries can receive funds.
Trusts can also reduce wealth transfer taxes and help insure that you are able to provide for future generations. We help clients set up marital trusts, credit-shelter trusts, life insurance trusts, and residence trusts to pass as much of their assets to their loved ones as possible.
We advise our clients whether or not Trusts would be a beneficial estate planning technique for them and we help them set up the trusts that we believe will best achieve their estate planning goals.
We help surviving spouses and family members through the grief of losing a loved one.
When someone passes away with a Will, then the person named as executor or personal representative is charged with probating the will, which means that they are responsible for settling the estate and making the necessary distributions, as prescribed by its terms. We guide our clients through the process by helping:
When someone passes intestate, or without a will, the court will appoint an administrator to settle the estate. The appointed administrator has many of the same responsibilities as a personal representative or an executor.
At the Law Offices of J. Christopher Miller, PC, we help executors, personal representatives, or estate administrators navigate the maze that is estate administration.
Our goal is to make the process as smooth as possible for someone who is going through an already difficult time.
Special Needs Planning
If a family member is eligible to receive government benefits for a disability, then you may want to consider creating a Special Needs Trust to protect his or her assets.
Any gifts given directly to or inherited by a Medicaid recipient can disqualify him or her from receiving those important benefits and could leave the child ineligible for Medicaid.
A Special Needs Trust can help avoid the problem by providing a place for you or others to give gifts to the child without having them count against the child for receiving the much needed government benefits.
Assets that go into a Special Needs Trust are not assets to be used for the child’s necessities such as groceries, or healthcare, as the government benefits are what should be used to pay for those things. The assets in a special needs trusts, are designed for just that, special needs, such as entertainment, vacations, and any other expenses that go beyond what the government is willing to cover, but are still important to ensure that your child maintains a fulfilling life.
Here at the Law Offices of J. Christopher Miller, PC, we help clients form special needs trusts, so that they have a place to put assets for their special needs child, so that they are taken care of after your passing.
Estate planning is not just for the elderly. Anyone can become incapacitated at any age. We draft Powers of Attorney and Georgia Advance Health Care Directives so that our clients can choose who to make their decisions and when that transition should take place.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney authorizes a trusted individual to make financial decisions on someone else’s behalf. Georgia adopted the Uniform Power of Attorney Act in 2017, which helped agents by creating a standardized form. The new form lists the topics that an agent can cover on a client's behalf and spells out the duties of an agent to take good care of the person naming them as agent. It can spring into effect upon disability or be effective immediately. The power can be limited to a specific purpose or be very broad.
Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care
Released in 2007, a Georgia Health Care Directive combines the living will and the Health Care Power of Attorney.
The Advance Directive for Health Care allows someone to select in advance what medical treatment he or she should receive should he or she be unable to express his or her wishes.
The Directive provides a roadmap for the health care agent to follow when one can no longer speak for him or herself.
Guardianships and Conservatorships
If a loved one is no longer able to make decisions about his or her health and safety or finances then he or she may need a guardianship or a conservatorship.
We represent clients in guardianship and conservatorship proceedings before the Probate Courts in most metro Atlanta counties. We understand that this process may often be uncomfortable, but we make it as smooth as possible to help ensure that a loved one does not get taken advantage of and that someone with his or her best interests in mind is appointed.
We help clients with any business law needs that they may have, including entity formation, mergers and acquisitions, and contract drafting.
We guide our clients in starting their business and then are there for them every step of the way. Businesses with more than one owner need operating or shareholder agreements, and buy-sell agreements. We also draft by-laws and articles of organization, as well as non-compete, employment and non-disclosure agreements.
We know that starting a new business can often be complicated and stressful. At the Law Offices of J. Christopher Miller, PC, our goal is to make the process as smooth and painless for our clients, by being there to assist them with any and every business need that they may have.