Georgia's Trusted Healthcare
& Medical Provider Attorneys

Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Hire A Lawyer For Your Will vs. Using An Online Service

Online Will Hire Attorney Jeyaram Georgia TrustRecently we saw an article – written by a non lawyer – recommending individuals and families complete their wills online as a way to save money.

However, there are several major flaws with this “money-saving approach” and online wills could ultimately end up costing an individual or family significantly more money than what they initially intended to pay.

Top 10 Reasons Why Lawyers Should Help You Write Your Will

  1. Experienced estate planning attorneys will create personalized plans for you based on a vast array of estate planning tools that “do-it-yourself” online wills do not consider.
  2. 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 and your will should reflect that.
  3. 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.
  4. Online 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.
  5. As your life situations change, your lawyer can easily help you update and change your legal plan as needed so that it best protects your loved ones and assets. Online forms cannot provide the guidance or recommendations attorneys can.
  6. Attorneys will have seen literally hundreds of cases and will be able to help you make informed decisions and avoid pitfalls they have seen in other cases.
  7. An attorney will help you identify ways to minimize your tax liabilities upon your passing. Online will services typically do not provide this feature.
  8. If you need something more than a basic will, such as a trust or special needs trust, online services often cannot address the complexity involved in these legal matters.
  9. Online forms cannot provide you guidance or help you think through important decisions such as who you should select as a guardian or trustee. An experienced attorney will help you think through the process and help you make a decision that you’re comfortable with.
  10. Most importantly, when it’s time for your will to be executed, your family will need to hire an attorney. If your family already has an established relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney, this is one less thing for a grieving – and often overwhelmed – family to have to deal with upon your passing.

A Will Should NOT Be A One Size Fits All 

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.

When you meet with an estate planning attorney, they will talk to you about your life, your family, your wishes and desires. They’ll also talk to you about your assets, your desires for how they should be distributed and what the best ways are to minimize tax liabilities. Online wills cannot provide this guidance.

Your life is not generic – neither should your will.

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families create and update their wills and trusts to best reflect and protect their families and assets.

When you meet with us, we carefully listen to your unique needs and will create a customized will or trust based on those needs and your wishes. We’re here to help you create a plan that gives you peace of mind. I can be reached at or 678.325.3872.

When & How Often Should You Update Your Will?

Wills Trusts Special Needs Trust Attorney Jeyaram & Associates One of the biggest misperceptions about wills and trusts is that once they’re written they cannot be changed or that it’s difficult to change a will or trust.

This is not true.

Wills and trusts should be viewed as “organic” and “living” documents that can and should be updated as your life changes.

Nothing Stays The Same

We all know the adage “nothing stays the same” to be true. Our lives and circumstances always change – sometimes quickly or in ways that we never anticipated. These changes often impact decisions we’ve made in our will and trust, and as a result, we need to update and change our wills and trusts to reflect those changes.

Following is a sample list of life changes as to when you should update or change your will:

  • Addition of a child (ex. birth or adoption)
  • Death of someone named in the will (ex. guardian, trustee, spouse, child, etc.)
  • Divorce or marriage
  • Change of address
  • A minor turns 18
  • Retirement
  • Your property value significantly changes (decreases or increases)
  • Acquisition of significant assets or finances (ex. an inheritance)
  • Significant change in health (yours or someone named in the will or trust)
  • Prior to turning 701/2 years of age if you have an IRA, 401(k), or other qualified plan that requires you to begin taking distributions at age 701/2.

You Change Your Mind

Recently we had a client update their special needs trust to reflect changes in their relationship with an individual they listed a guardian. The individual initially listed as guardian was experiencing significant personal changes that resulted in estranged relations with the family. As a result, the client named a new guardian for his children.

Even if something as significant as the aforementioned doesn’t happen, you can always update or change individuals listed in your will or trust or how your assets should be allocated. Sometimes our opinions change or our needs change. As a result, it’s important to update your will or trust to reflect those changes.

Time & Changes In The Law

If you have a special needs trust in place, I always encourage clients to review them on an annual basis – especially the letter to guardians. The letter to guardians is the organic plan that details how to best care for a differently abled child if something suddenly happens to you. A lot can change in a year with a child – anything from new routines to new medical conditions to new favorite toys. This letter is the life line for guardians.

Updating your will or trust every 3 to 5 years is ideal. During that time, changes in estate planning laws may have occurred and your attorney can advise you accordingly.

Easy To Update

It’s important to never try to change or update your will or trust by simply crossing out or adding words or lines on the will. These edits invite confusion and could be challenged in court as to whether they are legally valid. As a result, it’s best to contact your attorney when you need to make updates.

While the initial will may take a bit of time to complete since you’re making important legal decisions to protect your family and asset, updating your will or trust is not as involved. Your attorney will prepare a new will for you to sign to revokes the earlier one.

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families create and update their wills to best reflect and protect their families and assets as their situations change. If you’re not sure how changes in your life will impact your will, just call us. That’s what we’re here for. I can be reached at or 678.325.3872.

Individuals With Disabilities Can Now Set Up Their Own Special Needs Trusts

Special Needs Trust, Jeyaram Associates, Disability, Wills, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a letter providing guidance to states indicating that individuals with disabilities can now set up their own special needs trust.

Prior to this guidance from CMS, only guardians, caregivers, family members or other third parties could set up a trust on behalf of the individual with a disability.

This is a step in the right direction in allowing people with disabilities to advocate for themselves and be self-reliant to the greatest extent possible.

Individuals with the cognitive ability to set up their own Special Needs Trust and who are under the age of 65 can now create a trust to set aside assets without negatively impacting their eligibility for Medicaid.

Why A Special Needs Trust?

Eligibility for many government benefits is determined based on the resources an individual with a disability has in his or her name.

If a loved one has too many resources, even by just one dollar, he or she may not qualify for, or may even lose, benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Medicaid.

Even if your loved one does not currently receive government assistance, he or she may need it in the future.

A special needs trust is a way to protect your loved one’s current resources and future benefits.

Through a special needs trust you can leave assets to your child or ward without negatively impacting his or her government benefits.

How Funds From A Special Needs Trust Can Be Used

Government benefits only cover basics such as medical care, food, clothing, and shelter.

Through a special needs trust, a designated trustee for your loved one will be able to provide your child or adult ward with access to things such as:

• a personal care attendant

• out of pocket medical and dental expenses

• vacations

• home furnishings

• vehicles

• hobbies

• education

How To Set Up A Special Needs Trust

A special needs trust is usually part of a comprehensive Special Needs Estate Plan. Our Special Needs Estate Plan includes:

•  Last will and testament

•  Advanced medical directives

•  Financial and durable powers of attorney

•  HIPAA waivers

•  Legacy statement

•  Letters to guardians

•  Child safety and protection cards

•  Original document storage in our vault

•  And, perhaps most importantly, guardianship designations for minor children

We Can Help

We’ve helped hundreds of families set up Special Needs Trusts. As the parent of a child with disabilities, we understand the need to protect your child’s current or future government benefits financial future.

I can be reached at or 678.325.3872.

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 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 or 678.325.3872.

Someone You Love Have Alzheimer’s? Here’s Why They Need An Advance Medical Directive

Advance Medical Directive

Why An Advance Medical Directive Is Important

My wife’s grandfather (we call him Opa) has the last stages of Alzheimer’s. I remember meeting him more than a decade ago and he was vibrant, funny and loved to sing.

Now, at almost 90 years old, he does not remember me and spends his days in bed asking the same questions over and over and over.

Recently my wife called to check on Opa and he was crying hysterically. She asked him what was wrong and his sobbing reply was, “Didn’t they tell you? Your grandmother is gone. She’s gone.” And then he hung up the phone.

Of course, my wife called back immediately and her grandmother answered the phone. She had been standing next to Opa (my wife’s grandfather) the entire time and clearly she was alive and well. However, what was not well was Opa’s memory.

It was heartbreaking to say the least. My wife was visibly upset. She has traveled numerous times to help him when he became sick or was hospitalized. Her grandparents live about 2 1/2 hours away.

But with a young family of our own –  including a special needs child – it’s hard for her to get away. That’s where having an Advance Medical Directive in place has been extremely helpful. Even if my wife cannot be there in person, she can at least talk to the doctors and help make decisions on Opa’s behalf.

Thankfully, before Opa’s Alzheimer’s had progressed too much, he agreed for my wife to be his Healthcare Agent and give her the legal authority to make medical decisions on his behalf.

Advance Medical Directive – Why You & Loved Ones Need It 

An Advance Medical Directive is also known as a health care proxy, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, or healthcare agent. The purpose of an Advance Medical Directive is to legally enable an individual to make decisions on your behalf if you cannot speak for yourself or express your wishes about your health. It also helps those individuals and your healthcare providers know about your treatment preferences. Examples of being unable to make medical decisions for yourself include:

• Permanent illness like Alzheimer’s

• Incapacity

• A coma or persistent vegetative state

• If you are having an outpatient surgical procedure and are under general anesthesia

Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers must follow your Advance Medical Directive’s decisions as if they were your own but only if the Directive is properly executed.

By having an Advance Medical Directive, a doctor clearly knows whose direction is to be followed in the event your family disagrees as to what medical treatment you would want.

When Should You Set Up An Advanced Medical Directive?

Now. The unexpected in life happens. It happened to one of our good friends. Our friend received a call that her husband had been in a car accident and was unresponsive. He ended up being in a coma for three weeks. Thankfully there was not a dispute between our friend and her husband’s parents. However, if there had been a disagreement about his medical care, an Advance Medical Directive would have been critical.

Opa named my wife as his Healthcare Agent in his Advance Medical Directive during the early stages of his diagnosis. This is important. If he had signed the document during the final stages of Alzheimer’s, the legitimacy and legality of the Advance Medical Directive could be challenged in court if there was a disagreement within her family about his medical treatment. This is why putting documentation in place before you need it is very important.

How Do You Set Up An Advance Medical Directive?

All 50 states have forms online where you can establish an Advance Medical Directive. However, the state forms do not always address the important nuances of your healthcare decisions. For example, if you are incapacitated and unable to communicate, but not terminal, what do you want your life to look like? Do you want to be somewhere you can have a pet? A room with a view? NetFlix? By having an attorney help you set up an Advance Medical Directive, you ensure that your wishes are complete and clear to everyone involved.

Where Do You Start? 

Start having conversations with your loved ones about your medical wishes. These are not easy conversations, but they are important to ensure that your desires are enacted should you be unable to make decisions about your health.

And if someone you love has Alzheimer’s or other permanent or terminal illness, it’s important to put into place an Advance Medical Directive before their health significantly declines.

Contact Us

Our attorneys specialize in setting up an Advance Medical Directives. I have more than 20 years healthcare experience – working with medical professionals and individuals who need medical help. Further, we’ve personally been through the process with our own families. I can be reached at or 678.325.3872.


Georgians With Developmental Disabilities “Shortchanged”

Developmental DisabilityGaps Remain In Community Support Services

Six years after their 2010 settlement agreement that addressed Georgia’s treatment of people with mental illness and developmental disabilities, the State and the US Department of Justice still cannot agree on what exactly that means.

Under part of the 2010 settlement, Georgia must improve care for individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities. This includes moving these individuals into community settings when appropriate. There are annual reports filed with the court from an independent reviewer about the progress of the settlement.  According to the most recent report, Georgia still has gaps in services and waiting lists mean community integration has not been fully realized.

U.S. Supreme Court Orders Community Integration

Georgia’s compliance with the 2010 settlement will continue to be a contentious issue. A federal judge overseeing the execution of the settlement said, “The state of Georgia always has shortchanged people with mental illness.” Georgia was the focus of the Supreme Court’s 1999 ruling in Olmstead v L.C. In that case, the Court ruled individuals with mental illness and DD have a right to receive services in the most integrated community setting appropriate for their needs.

Most Applications For Assistance Initially Rejected

Despite the disagreement over what is required under the settlement, the 2010 settlement has helped many people move back or remain in their communities. This is thanks to the increased availability of Medicaid waivers. However, some disabled individuals and their families still get discouraged during the application process, especially if the application is initially rejected.

 We Can Help 

 Jeyaram & Associates has helped dozens of families get and keep support services for individuals with developmental disabilities even after an initial rejection. For more information, contact Jonathan Anderson at


Are You Compliant? HHS Issues Guidance & Likely To Continue HIPAA Compliance Scrutiny

HIPAA AuditThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) started the year by publishing new HIPAA guidance with respect to patient access to medical records.

While the recent HHS guidance does not add anything new to the regulations, it serves as a reminder to providers of certain provisions in the law. The guidance is intended as a tool to aid individuals in exercising their rights to access their medical records and to help providers ensure HIPAA compliance.

HHS highlighted certain provisions in the HIPAA regulations including provider obligations to respond to a request from a patient within 30 days and provide PHI in an electronic format if requested (assuming the electronic format requested can be readily produced by the provider).

The guidance also reminds providers that covered entities are not required to provide every single record about an individual even if the individual asks. Certain exceptions to a patient’s right to access include:

  • Patients do not have the right to access to information that is not used to make decisions about that individual. For example, certain quality assessment or improvement records, patient safety activity records, or business planning, development and management records that are used for business decisions do not have to be provided to an individual.
  • Individuals do not have a right to access psychotherapy notes that a mental health professional maintains separately from the individual’s medical record and that document or analyze the contents of a counseling session with the individual.
  • Providers can deny access to certain records if a licensed health care professional determines in the exercise of professional judgment that the access requested is reasonably likely to endanger the life or physical safety of the individual or another person.
  • Patients do not have a right to access certain records compiled in reasonable anticipation of, or for use in, a legal proceeding.

Additionally, providers do not have to create new information, such as explanatory materials or analyses, that does not already exist in the record.

The government’s emphasis on HIPAA is expected to continue with pending audits of covered entities and business associates likely to take place this quarter. Now is the time for healthcare providers to review their policies to ensure that they are complying with the HIPAA regulations.

If you would like to review the HHS guidance it is available at

If you need help ensuring HIPAA compliance, please contact Danielle Hildebrand at or 678.325.3872.