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5 Things People Forget to Include in Their Will

DJ Jeyaram is quoted in this article published on GoBankingRates and Philly.com. Congrats DJ!

Article by Alaina Tweddale

Many people overlook writing a will until they become parents, launch a business or buy a first home. And even when they do finally craft this important document, estate and financial planning experts say, it is easy to overlook some important details.

We uncovered the biggest things people overlook when drafting a will. Find out if you’re missing a one of these key elements.

1. Alternate Beneficiaries

While most wills include at least one primary beneficiary, it is a common mistake to fail to prepare for a backup plan in the event the beneficiary predeceases the testator.

Furthermore, “it is important to consider whether a beneficiary is capable of inheriting the asset and can manage the asset properly,” said Sandra Martin Clark, partner at the law firm of Manning, Fulton, & Skinner in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Martin Clark says some reasons a loved one should be passed over for beneficiary status include:

  • Age
  • Mental capacity
  • Inability to properly manage assets

“Oftentimes, after a will is drafted and signed, the document is never looked at again until someone has passed away. At that point, it is too late to correct any error or consider a more appropriate planning opportunity,” said Martin Clark.

If the testator’s intent is unclear, or the beneficiary is a minor or found to be incompetent, it can be overwhelmingly difficult and costly to find a solution, Martin Clark said.

2. Provisions for Digital Assets

Digital assets are among the most important things left out of wills today, said Steven J.J. Weisman, an attorney in Amherst, Mass., professor who teaches estate planning at Bentley University, and author of “A Guide to Elder Planning.”

Websites, domain names and online accounts can all have economic value. Planners should also include account numbers and passwords within a will.

“So much of what we do is online or on our computers,” said Weisman. “Without the proper user names and passwords, as well as authorizing someone to have access to these matters, the estate can be severely compromised.”

Information for social media accounts can be important. Although there may not be a monetary value associated with a Twitter handle or a Facebook account, it can be awkward for loved ones to see greetings or birthday wishes posted to the deceased’s wall or news feed.

3. Prearrangements for Pets

Although you cannot leave assets or property directly to a pet, you can – and should – specify a caregiver for your pet, said David Walters, a certified financial planner and portfolio manager with Palisades Hudson Financial Group in Portland, Ore.

Consider naming a secondary caregiver in the event the primary caregiver is unwilling or unable to care for your pet, Walters added. Pet owners can even name a beneficiary for assets earmarked for the care of your pet.

If you do not make any specific provision for your pet’s care, the arrangements may become a source of contention among your loved ones. In the worst case, your pet could end up in a shelter,” Walters said.

4. A Personal Property Memorandum

Personal property mementos can be the most prized items in the estate of a parent or loved one.

“Sometimes, what people fight over are the least valuable items,” said Erik Hartstrom, attorney with Estate Plan Pros in Elk Grove, California.

Examples include a grandfather clock, Mom’s favorite costume jewelry, or even a $1.50 tchotchke Dad kept lovingly tucked in his dresser drawer.

An estate that has heirlooms worth a substantial amount of money can exacerbate the problem.

When there is no written personal property memorandum affixed to the will, beneficiaries may quarrel and sometimes even fracture long-standing relationships.

“Have a conversation with your beneficiaries and find out what is meaningful to each,” said Hartstrom. “You may be surprised.”

5. Trustee and Guardian Designations

It is critical to keep contact and designation information about trustees and guardians up-to-date, said Atlanta-based estate planning attorney DJ Jeyaram.

“This is especially important if both parents or a single parent suddenly passes and there are minors involved,” he said. “The guardians need to be immediately notified to ensure proper care of the children.”

A named trustee and guardian don’t have to be the same person. Without explicit instructions, an unintended new guardian may raise a child, or care for an incapacitated adult. Assets intended for the care of the minor can transfer to someone the deceased did not prefer.

In a worst-case scenario, said Jeyaram, “the children may be put into state custody.”

When you’re ready to put your final wishes on paper, thoroughly consider how you want all aspects of your estate handled – even the seemingly insignificant items. An experienced estate attorney can help you determine all the items you may want to consider when planning your will.

Wills, Trusts, & Estate Planning Client Feedback

Wills, Trusts, Estate PlanningWe love hearing from our clients. We truly believe in spending time with our clients to help them find solutions that best meet their needs.

Here’s a few reviews from some of our clients who we helped set up traditional wills, trusts and estate plans.

“Values Family”

“DJ was extremely helpful in the creation of our will/trust. It was easy to see how much he values family, and he gave us confidence and peace of mind by making a complicated and often difficult process feel manageable.

He was professional yet very personable and made sure that we understood all of the language of the documents. He gave us adequate time and never rushed us throughout the entire process making sure that we had time to think through all important decisions.

He gave us everything we would need to give to all those involved and a very organized presentation of all of our documents to keep.

DJ was wonderful to work with, and I would recommend him to anyone.” – C. Oddi

Originally posted on Google+ 

“Kind and Patient”

“DJ and his team were so wonderful in helping me coordinate my father’s final will, power of attorney and medical directive. The team was kind and patient, explaining all of the steps involved, and assisting with developing the final documents.

As my father was battling a terminal illness, much of our communication was over email. They were very responsive and managed everything with such care.

It was a difficult time in both my Dad’s and my life, but DJ and the team allowed us to check off that box in the process of ‘things to get done,’ so we could focus on the more important things, like spending those last days together.” – L. Efman (sent via email)

“Solid Advice”

“Jeyaram & Associates is outstanding. I can’t say enough good things about DJ Jeyaram. My husband and I needed to create a fairly complicated will. We have multiple properties, 2 children, and 4 grandchildren.

DJ gave us very solid advice. We are so happy he helped us achieve a perfect solution to the distribution of our estate. We’ve already recommended him to several of our friends. Thank you DJ.” – P. Javazon (sent via email)

Contact Us

Need help setting up a will, trust or estate plan? We’re more than to help. Contact DJ at DJ@Jeylaw.com or 678-325-3872.

 

Even If Your Child Doesn’t Receive SSI Or Medicaid, You May Still Need To Set Up A Special Needs Trust

special needs trustSocial Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that typically provides cash stipends to people who have paid into the Social Security system and who can’t work due to disability.  (In some cases, it is possible to receive SSDI even if you haven’t worked.) In most cases, when someone has been eligible for SSDI benefits for two years, the individual also receives Medicare, even if he or she is under age 65.

From a special needs planning perspective, SSDI benefits are fairly easy to deal with because the program does not have an asset limit or a restriction on unearned income, like interest or dividends.  This means that a millionaire who meets the program’s requirements can receive SSDI benefits alongside a completely impoverished person. It also means that from a purely financial perspective, a person with resources doesn’t need to shelter her assets in a special needs trust in order to qualify for SSDI benefits as she would have to do if she were receiving means-tested government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.

But this does not mean that SSDI beneficiaries should not have special needs trusts. In fact, there are many benefits to having a special needs trust that go far beyond the ability to maintain eligibility for SSI or Medicaid. For instance, a person with a mental illness may be unable to manage money. A special needs trust would allow that person’s funds to be invested and spent appropriately by a qualified trustee.  In another case, a person with special needs may be able to handle her personal finances but she might live in an environment where she is susceptible to mistreatment by others. In this situation, a special needs trust would provide an appropriate buffer between the beneficiary and the people who would otherwise take advantage of her.

When it comes to special needs planning, you never want to take anything for granted.  Just because an SSDI beneficiary might not need Medicaid and SSI now, it doesn’t mean she won’t qualify for, or require, services from those programs in the future. For instance, an SSDI beneficiary may rely on private health insurance and Medicare, but if she loses her insurance and Medicare doesn’t cover certain medications, it might be incredibly important for that beneficiary to receive Medicaid, which could make a special needs trust essential.

Finally, there is one particular type of special needs trust, called a first-party special needs trust, that is specifically designed to hold the beneficiary’s own assets. In most of the examples above, this is the type of special needs trust that would be required. Unfortunately, only a parent, grandparent, guardian or court can establish a first-party special needs trust for the beneficiary, even if she is completely competent to create a trust on her own. Therefore, if the parent or grandparent of a person who receives SSDI has the capability, it is probably a good idea for him to create the trust for his child or grandchild, on the off-chance that it will have to be used later, instead of relying on an expensive and time-consuming court process.

There are lots of reasons to have a special needs trust beyond merely qualifying for government benefits.  If you or a loved one receives SSDI and doesn’t have a special needs trust, our attorneys can help you determine the best estate planning option to meet your needs. Contact DJ Jeyaram at DJ@Jeylaw.com or 678.325.3872.

Most Important Item On Your “To-Do” List That Never Gets Done: Create A Will

Wills, Trusts and Estate PlanningEveryone, yes, everyone, needs a will, trust or estate plan. Most of us know we need a will. Most of think about it. And then we put it on our “To-Do List” and forget about it until we hear about someone who recently lost a loved one. And then we think about it again, and put it back on our “To-Do List” – only to forget about it again.

However, completing a will, trust or estate plan is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your loved ones and your assets.

Jeyaram & Associates can help you protect what’s most important to you with a will, trust or estate plan. We’ll walk you through the process, step-by-step – without all the legal jargon. No one likes to think about dying, but having a legal plan in place can make your passing much easier on your loved ones.

Contact DJ Jeyaram: DJ@Jeylaw.com or 678.325.3872

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep – Create A Will, Trust or Estate Plan

According to a University of Scranton psychology study, only 8 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions will will keep them. Top New Year’s resolutions include losing weight, getting organized, falling in love, and enjoying life to the fullest.

What’s missing from the top ten list is a resolution to keep loved ones safe and plan for the future. This resolution can easily be achieved by putting into place a will, trust or estate plan. And while most of us try NOT to think about dying, establishing a will, trust or estate is an important step in ensuring that our loved ones will be protected and cared for upon our passing. Too often we’ve seen families devastated by the lack of planning for the future.

Jeyaram & Associates offers wills, trusts and estate planning and can help you protect what you love most. Contact DJ@jeylaw.com or 678.325.3872