Georgia's Trusted Healthcare, Guardianships, & Special Needs Trusts Lawyers

Creating A Special Needs Trust Is Easier Than You Think

Special Needs Trust, Attorney, Georgia, Atlanta, Duluth, Jeyaram & AssociatesWe all know putting into place a will and special needs trust is extremely important to help protect our special needs child now and in the future.

But with all the doctors appointments, therapies, calls to the insurance company and specialists, school work and not to mention laundry, bath time and meal preparation, finding the time to put into place a will and special needs trust seems impossible.

On most days, we’re lucky if we get to drink our cup of coffee while it’s still lukewarm. (I know I gave up the hope of drinking hot coffee a long time ago!)

No, Really. It’s Easier Than You Think

However putting into place a special needs trust really is easier than you think, and the process simply starts with a phone call or an email. Seriously. A phone call or email. That’s it.

When you call us, we’ll get your name and email address and then you’ll receive a questionnaire to complete. Don’t worry – it’s not like applying for a home loan or taking the SAT. And the good news is, you’ll already know most – if not all – of the answers.

Seriously, we ask things like your name, address, your child’s name and disability, a list of your assets, and whom you’d like to take care of your child if something were to happen to you.

No Right Or Wrong Answers

Most of these are answers we can recite in our sleep. No prep needed and there are no right or wrong answers. Further, don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers or if you have questions (like whom you should name as your child’s guardian). We’re here to help you, and we will guide you through the process to ensure that the special needs trust best meets your family’s needs.

Once you complete the form, I’ll review it and follow up with you if I have any questions. And then, a draft of your will and the special needs trust is created and sent to you to review.

We’re Here To Help You

We know you’re busy and adding one more thing to your “to-do” list seems daunting. But setting up a special needs trust is an important legal document to help protect your family and child with special needs. My email address is DJ@JeyLaw.com or you can call me at 678.325.3872. And when you come to the office to sign your will and special needs trust, I’ll have a hot cup of coffee waiting for you. 🙂

Former Jeyaram & Associates’ Interns Shine

Best Atlanta Attorney Lawyers Jeyaram Associates Healthcare Special Needs Trusts Guardianship Will Estate PlanningArnall Golden & Gregory, a large Atlanta firm, recently held a mock trial for its associates to practice and hone their skills (a practice by many large law firms and law schools), and the team that won the largest verdict was named “Team Jeyaram!”

After a long day of trial on a recent Saturday, the team consisting of two former Jeyaram & Associates interns Michael Bargar & Madison Pool won the largest verdict – 5x any other award for the day!

My former interns and current friends wrote, “We thought that you would get a kick out of our success given our former roles with your firm!”

We know it was the skills of Michael and Madison that won the day, but maybe, just maybe, their team name helped just a little!

Thanks for sharing this fun story Michael and Madison! We are very proud of you both!

#LoveWhenOurInternsShine

How To Choose A Trustee

Trustee, Trust, Will, Estate Planning, Attorney, Lawyer, Jeyaram, Georgia, AtlantaWhen you set up a trust to protect your assets and finances, one of the most important decisions you will make is who will serve as your trustee.

The trustee (or trustees) is someone who will manage your money and property if you become incapacitated (living will) or for the benefit of others after you pass.

The trustee has a lot of authority, so it’s important to select someone you not only trust and have great confidence in, but also:

  • Makes smart financial decisions
  • Is responsible
  • Can meet deadlines (ex. paying bills on time and filing taxes)
  • Has a healthy relationship with your family
  • Is good at communicating as many decisions and ongoing conversations will need to occur.

Trustees are most often a family member or an institution. Following are some benefits and disadvantages to both:

Family Member

Perhaps the biggest benefits of selecting a family member as a trustee is that they may not charge you a fee to be the trustee and most likely, they have a good understanding of how your family works and what it needs.

However, on the flip side, if you choose a family member to be the trustee it could lead to conflict or resentment especially if there is a separate guardian involved for a minor child or disabled adult. Further, the family member may not have financial prowess and may need to hire someone to help them.

Finally, the family member could become incapacitated, get divorced or pass away. As a result, if you select a family member as a trustee, it’s important to name a successor trustee.

An Institution

If you choose a bank or financial institution as the trustee, there is stability (it most likely won’t die) and more likely financial acumen than a family member. The bank can handle any investments, tax preparations, management, and accounting of the trust’s finances. Further, the bank is regulated by federal laws and uninvolved in family politics.

The downside of naming a bank or financial institution as a trustee is cost. Sometimes banks have a minimum fee. This may make banks cost-prohibitive for small trusts. Further, while the bank may not die, employees at the bank can change frequently making it difficult to build relationships.

Still Not Sure?

Choosing the right trustee is an important decision and can be stressful as there are many factors to consider. However, an experienced estate planning attorney can help you determine whether a family member or an institution will be the best choice for you based on your wants and family’s needs.

We’re Here To Help

DJ Jeyaram is an experienced estate planning attorney who specializes in helping families create trusts – including identifying the best trustee – to meet their needs and situations.

You will work directly with DJ in creating a will or trust that reflects your family. DJ can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

How To Address Your Adult Child’s Substance Abuse Issues In Your Will

Addiction Substance Abuse Trust Wills Estate Planning Jeyaram AssociatesWhen we start to think about the future for our adult children who struggle with addiction, we worry about their financial and overall well-being.

We want to help them be financially secure after we are gone, but we also want to make sure they are responsible with any inheritance they receive.

This is where setting up a trust and a designated trustee as part of your will can help protect your child.

It’s Important To Set Up A Trust & Trustee

If your adult child has a history of addiction or is unable to make responsible financial decisions, leaving them an inheritance without any kind of guidance or protections could lead to further challenges.

By creating a trust and designating someone to manage assets (a Trustee), you are putting into place protections to help your child from others – including creditors and sometime from themselves. Following are a couple of trusts that may be useful when leaving assets to someone with addiction challenges.

Trusts With Incentives

Trusts can be designed to include incentives such submitting to random drug tests in order to receive some of the assets or that the trust will match dollar for dollar for any earned income.

However, structuring a trust like this should be carefully considered as it could prevent your child from receiving any support despite perhaps their best attempts to beat their addiction.

In addition, money may not be the incentive your child needs to try to modify his or her behavior.

Wholly Discretionary Trusts

If your child has a severe addiction or a history of being financially irresponsible, a Wholly Discretionary Trust may be the best choice. With this trust, the Trustee maintains control over all finances and you can specifically direct how the funds will be used.

For example, funds may be used for tuition or rent (paid directly to a landlord) or medical expenses. This trust helps ensure that the money a child receives does not negatively contribute to their addiction.

Selecting A Trustee

A Trustee is someone you name in your trust to manage the assets you want to pass on to your child. Selecting the right Trustee is perhaps one of the most important decisions regarding setting up the trust.

We often recommend NOT choosing someone in your family as this can create conflict and ultimately lead to estranged relationships. Instead, we recommend selecting an independent person or a corporate trustee.

We’re A Part Of Your Team

Regardless of whether you want to set up a straight-forward trust, one with structured incentives, or a trust with restrictions, the trust should include a Trustee to manage it.

Dealing with a child’s challenges with substance abuse can be emotionally exhausting, financially draining and outright overwhelming.

We’re here to help you figure out the best approach for setting up your will and trust for you child. You don’t have to have all the answers when you meet with us.

We’re here to help you create a plan that best meets your wishes and your family’s circumstances. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Do Your Loved Ones Know What You Want If You Become Incapacitated? Do You?

will trusts estate planning incapacitatedSpecial blog post by Cassandra Jeyaram, PhD

The week before Thanksgiving, my 90-year-old grandfather passed away at his home. I am so thankful I was able to spend his last few days, hours and minutes with him.

Although he was incapacitated and could not talk, open his eyes or move his body, he knew I was there. I talked to him about his hometown of Winooski, Vermont, played his favorite CDs and told him some bad jokes, at which he managed a half smile on several occasions.

I shared with him how he taught me how to ice skate, fish (and subsequently get a fishing hook out of my belly button) and how to eat watermelon. I rubbed his feet, held his hands, and tried to make sure he was as comfortable as possible.

This Is An Important Conversation To Have With Loved Ones

It was during these last few precious moments with my grandfather that I realized I had never thought about what I would want during my final moments if I were incapacitated. Being incapacitated is something my family never discussed. Although it’s a conversation no ones like to have, it’s an important one.

Upon returning home after my grandfather’s passing, my husband and I sat down to update our wills and document in detail what we both wanted if we were incapacitated.

I would love a view of nature, classical music gently playing in the background and soft blankets. We also wrote down that if someone became upset while visiting me, they would be asked to leave the room. I know my heart would break hearing/seeing/feeling someone I love upset. I included this as I watched my grandmother sobbing over my grandfather with her tears falling on his face.

I can only imagine the heartbreak both of them were feeling after being married 69 years. I could sense my grandfather was holding on for my grandmother and only when my grandmother peacefully fell asleep on the couch next to him did he finally let go.

Some Things To Think About

When we think about “Estate Plans,” we often only think about our wills and what happens if we die. But an important part of our estate plans are our wishes of what we would want to hear, see or feel if we are incapacitated. Some things to consider are, where do you want to be? At home? In a hospital? What sounds or sights would you like? Do you have a favorite CD? Movie? Do you want your pet to be with you? Who would you like to visit you?

While these questions are not exhaustive, they are designed to help you to start thinking about your wishes if you become incapacitated and are unable to communicate. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s what you want.

As I look back on my grandfather’s life and this post, I realize my grandfather taught me many things, including that I need to communicate and document my final wishes.

Documenting Your Final Wishes

If you’d like help with your final wishes, DJ can help guide you through the process and make sure they are a part of your will or estate plan. He can be reached at 678.325.3872 or DJ@JeyLaw.com.

 

Doctors & Medical Professionals: Here’s How To Respond To Search Warrants

Search Warrants Can Be Scary – Here’s How To Respond

Search Warrant Audit Physician Doctor Attorney Lawyer Jeyaram & Associates“Knock. Knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“The Government. And here is a search warrant.”

Sadly, this is no joke and many doctors and healthcare providers will be served with warrants this year.

Warrants can mean anything from audits to criminal activity and have serious consequences including putting your practice out of business.

Step-By-Step Response To Search Warrants

If the government shows up at your door with a search warrant, the following are some important steps to follow:

  • Immediately call your attorney. It is crucial to call an attorney who has experience in both healthcare law and defense.
  • Ask for identification of the people at your door. Review the credentials or business card. Write down the name and contact information.
  • Do NOT destroy, alter or remove any documents.
  • Be polite. Remain calm. Be cooperative. Say please and thank you.
  • Ask for a copy of the search warrant and any affidavits filed in support of the warrant.
  • Ask what crime and conduct is under investigation.
  • Request that no interviews be conducted until your attorney arrives.
  • Immediately advise all supervisory personnel of the search and that they are to wait for the attorney to arrive before answering any questions.
  • Compile an inventory of all the documents being removed and ask if you can copy all the documents being seized – this includes making a back up disk for all computer files.
  • Make a record of everything said by an investigating officer. If you cannot do this during the search, write up your recollection after the search.
  • If possible, videotape or photograph the search.
  • DO NOT speak with the press.

Contact Experienced Legal Help Immediately

It’s imperative to follow these steps. But if nothing else, immediately contact an attorney and he/she will help guide you through the process.

Jeyaram & Associates has helped hundreds of providers successfully handle government investigations. Contact DJ Jeyaram at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Why You Want To Avoid Probate

Wills Trusts Estate Planning Attorney Avoid ProbateProbate

It’s a word we often hear when we’re talking about wills or special needs trusts – but what does it mean? And why does everyone tell you to avoid it at all possible costs?

Probate is the formal legal process that occurs after someone passes. Probate involves proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid and it’s the process of distributing the deceased person’s property. If the deceased had a will, the legal process is usually straight forward with little room for dispute and can be handled by your family attorney.

However, when someone passes and they did not leave a will or trust in place, that’s when things can get complicated and costly, and to be honest, sometimes the probate process can get really ugly. Without a will, the court will appoint an administrator for your estate – this could be anyone – to gather and distribute someone’s assets according to law. Sound simple? Not so much, and here’s why.

It May Seem Unfair

The process of divvying up someone’s assets can be a lengthy and complex process. And ultimately, without a will in place, the end result dictated by law could seem unfair to the deceased’s family. Most people’s assumption on how everything will be divided under the law is usually wrong.

Many of my married clients that have children assume that when they pass, 100% their estate will go to their spouse and when that spouse passes everything will go to their kids. In Georgia, this is incorrect.

In Georgia, the estate is divided evenly between the spouse and the kids (with the spouses the share is no less than 1/3). If your kids are 18 years or older then they get their share outright and not in a trust! Every state has its own criteria of how assets should be distributed if someone passes without a will.

As a result, family members may feel short changed or even worse, they could end up empty handed. This is one of the reasons having a will in place is so important. Wills clearly spell out who should get what, when and how.

It Takes A LONG Time

Further, most probate cases take anywhere from 6 months to a few years. If there are questions or disputes about the estate – it can take even longer. As a result, the family or individuals who stand to inherit the assets will have to wait a long time until the issues are resolved.

This can be a challenge for spouses or loved ones who need that money to pay bills. This could leave them in a financial pinch. With a will, assets – including money in bank accounts – can be distributed relatively quickly.

It Can Be Expensive

Not only is it a lengthy process, but it can be a costly process for those left behind. Though costs will vary from state to state, according to the American Bar Association, probate and administrative fees are estimated to be 6% and 10% of a person’s estate.

That can be a bit of money – and that assessment is made on the gross estate – before any fees are taken out. So the final inheritance will be less than what the deceased had intended. So while we may feel like creating a will is expensive, not having one in place when we pass can be even more costly.

Personal Life Becomes Public Record

And it’s just not the financial cost. There are personal costs too. Without a will in place, the deceased’s assets and their life are reviewed by the courts. As a result, everything becomes a matter of public record. So anyone – yes anyone – including your nosy neighbor, can go to the courthouse and find out what and how much the deceased left behind. This includes any outstanding debts or liens.

During this time, long lost relatives or secret relations may be exposed. This could be embarrassing and devastating for some families. Further, there are investment advisors or real estate investors or other less-than-ethical individuals who will want to “help” the family when in reality they’re just after the deceased’s assets. Having a will or trust in place allows families to keep family matters private and out of unintended “eyes.”

Easier To Put A Plan Into Place Now

Finding the time to put a will or trust into place is often a low priority. However, it should be a top priority as the probate process can be long, cumbersome and expensive. By putting a plan into place today, you’re saving your loved ones a lot of time, expense and heartache.

We’ve helped hundreds of families put into place wills or trusts that best meet their needs and protect their loved ones. It’s a straight-forward questionnaire and we’ll guide you through the entire process. I can be reached at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

 

The Easiest New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Create A Will

Wills Trusts and Estates New Years ResolutionWith the holidays behind us, many of are making resolutions to eat better, exercise more, get more sleep and try to balance our work and personal lives in the new year.

However, one of the most important resolutions we can make is often left off our list – writing a will. Putting into place a will or estate plan is perhaps one of the easiest and fastest resolutions you can check off your list!

Who Needs A Will?

Everyone. No matter your age, financial situation, marital status or stage in life needs a will, trust, or estate plan. Estate planning will benefit your loved ones by ensuring that your assets are properly distributed the way you want – not the way a court decides.

Why Do You Need A Will?

  • If you have minor children and don’t have a legal plan in place when you place, a court will decide who will care for them.
  • You’ve worked hard for your assets. Think about who you would leave your assets to – family, friends, or charities.
  • A legal plan will save your family from worrying and avoid disputes about your wishes.
  • Without a plan, a court decides who gets what. Your loved ones could be left without what you wanted.

Too many times we’ve seen families dealing with the loss of a loved one also have to face unexpected financial hardship because a plan wasn’t in place. Their loved one’s assets were tied up in the courts. The families had to hire a lawyer to help them navigate the courts and probate process – adding to the financial hardship. All of these situations could have been avoided if a legal place had been put into place.

What’s The Process For Writing For A Will?

When you contact a law firm to help you write a will, an attorney will send you a questionnaire to complete. The list of questions will help you start thinking about how you want to secure your legacy and distribute your assets – whether it’s to family, friends, charities, your place of worship or community – it’s important that your wishes are documented in a legal plan.

The list includes standard questions about your assets (ex. checking and/or savings accounts, property, car, life insurance, etc.) as well your final wishes (Do you want to buried? If so where? Do you want to be cremated? Etc.).

It will also ask questions such as who do you want to execute your will, guardianship for your child/children, and wishes if you were to be come incapacitated. And don’t worry if you’re not quite sure what to include. An estate planning attorney can help guide you and help you think about what will work best for your life.

New Year’s Resolution 

While death isn’t something we like to think about – it’s something that happens to all of us – and one of the best ways we can protect our loved ones is to make a New Year’s resolution to put into place a will or estate plan.

And if you already have a will or estate plan in place, the New Year is always a good time to reflect upon changes in your life and make any necessary changes to your legal plan.

We Can Help

DJ Jeyaram, Esq., is an experienced wills and estate planning attorney who can help you customize a will to best meet your needs and protect your loved ones. Contact DJ at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678-325-3872.

How To Obtain Guardianship For Your Special Needs Child

Guardianship Attorney GeorgiaIn many states, including Georgia, as soon as your special needs child turns 18, he or she becomes a legal adult and is assumed to be able to make decisions on their own behalf unless a court determines otherwise.

However, if you determine that retaining guardianship over your child once he or she turns 18 is in your child’s best interest, here’s how you do it. (See related post: Is Guardianship The Right Choice When Your Special Needs Child Turns 18?)

Start Planning BEFORE Your Child Turns 18

Requesting guardianship can be a lengthy and involved legal process. In order to retain guardianship of your child, you need to have the court appoint you as your child’s guardian.

To make sure there is not a gap in your child’s guardianship when he or she turns 18, it’s important to prepare your petition to the court well in advance of your child’s 18th birthday. If there is a gap in guardianship (i.e. your child turns 18 before you have guardianship) and a decision needs to be made about your child’s health or legal rights, it could cause some serious problems.

Step-By-Step Process

  • Every state’s guardianship laws differ slightly and the process can be daunting. This is where hiring an attorney to help guide you through the process is beneficial.
  • There are several forms you will need to complete, including forms that will need to be completed by a qualified physician to evaluate your child.
  • Once you submit the forms, your child will need to appear in court with you. As much as possible, you will want to help your child understand the process and what to expect in advance of actually appearing in court.
  • The court will appoint a representative for your child to help determine the merits of your claim that your child is not competent to act on his or her own behalf and that guardianship is in fact the right choice. The representative will most likely want to meet and visit with your child. In addition, in some circumstances, the representative may visit your child at home.
  • Finally, you will need to attend a hearing with your child. At this point, the judge will review and determine if your child is incapacitated and, if so, to what extent he or she requires assistance. Further, the judge will then decide if the person petitioning for guardianship will be appointed as guardian.

Some Things To Consider 

  • You and your spouse or significant other can petition the court to share guardianship. You will become co-guardians.
  • If your child’s need are complex, you can request that a non-profit agency or public or private corporation serve as your child’s guardian.
  • Guardianship may not be the right solution for your child. There are alternatives such as conservator or limited guardianship that give your child more independence.

Once You Are Awarded Guardianship

The paperwork doesn’t stop once you’re awarded guardianship. Every year you will need to file detailed reports about your child’s finances and overall well being. In some states, guardians must also provide proof that they’ve made adequate residential arrangements as well as provided appropriate healthcare services.

If the guardian cannot prove that they have adequately provided for their adult ward, then the court can remove the adult ward and name a different guardian.

Getting Started

As a parent of a special needs child and an attorney with extensive experience with legal issues relating to special needs children, I can help you navigate the complex guardianship process. DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678.325.3872.

7 Reasons Why Online Wills Aren’t The Smartest Choice

Wills Trusts and Estates Attorney GeorgiaGroupon is currently running an ad for 79% off online wills for individuals or couples. The company offering the promotion through Groupon says the online Web site creates wills “in just minutes.” Just “minutes” to map out and protect your assets and document your legacy? What?

Writing a will is NOT something that should be done in a matter of mere minutes. It’s something that should be given careful thought and consideration. The process of writing your will most likely take a couple of hours.

Why Online Wills Are Not The Smartest Choice

Writing a will should be done under the legal guidance of an established estate planning attorney and here are 7 reasons why:

• Online wills provide you with generic “one-size-fits-all” documents that are not tailored to your specific needs. Your life is not a one-size-fits-all. Why should your will be?

• Experienced estate planning attorneys can create personalized plans for you based on a vast array of estate planning tools that “do-it-yourself” online wills do not consider.

• When partnering with a lawyer, you are able to include specific details and information that the online forms do not allow you to include due to space limitations or lack of fields on the forms.

• Online will services also try to “up sell” customers through the process – the low cost offer is often a “hook” for more expensive packages. Almost all estate planning attorneys offer an upfront, flat fee for their wills.

• As your life situations change, your lawyer can easily help you update and change your legal plan as needed so that it to best protects your loved ones and assets. Online forms cannot do this.

• An attorney will keep your will in a locked safe. Online sites always have the potential for being hacked and your personal information compromised.

• An attorney will help you identify ways to minimize your tax liabilities upon your passing. Online will services typically do not provide this feature.

Easier For Your Family

Once your will needs to be executed, your family will need to hire a lawyer. By engaging a lawyer now to assist you with writing a will or estate plan, you are helping your family later as your family will not need to find an attorney to execute your will and they will already be familiar with your attorney.

Protecting Your Loved Ones

When it comes to protecting your family and assets, we recommend investing in the process of writing your will and partnering with an attorney to prevent any future headaches or heartaches. A will is a “living” document that’s designed to protect those you love most, and it deserves more than a generic form that can be completed in minutes. Your life is not generic – neither should your will.

We Can Help

We’re here to help. Our attorneys have extensive experience with helping individuals, families and families with special needs children create legal plans that best protect their assets and their loved ones.

Contact DJ Jeyaram at DJ@JeyLaw.com or 678-325-3872.