Estate Planning & Administration
At the very least, everyone needs a Will. If you have more diversified assets, we can assist you in establishing trusts and charitable giving plans. One of our attorneys will meet with you, listen to your needs, gain an understanding of your goals and then work with you to implement your plan. At Clark & Clark Law Group, LLC, we offer our services to individuals and families in order to make distribution of assets and caring for loved ones after death a hassle free process.
Why do I need a will?
In your will, you decide how your estate will be distributed and you may dispose of your property as you choose. Without a will, your estate is distributed to your heirs, who are determined in accordance with State law.
Who needs a will?
Every adult should have a properly drafted and executed will. Whether you have many assets or just a few, are married or unmarried, have minor children or no children, you should have a will.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that directs how certain property that you own at the time of your death (called your probate estate) is distributed at your death. A will must be properly executed to be valid. Your will takes effect only upon your death. Once written, your will may be changed (if certain conditions are met).
With a Will ...
In your will, you can nominate the person whom you want to be a guardian of your minor children.
In your will, property can be distributed to trustees of your choice to manage the property on behalf of incapacitated adults, minor children, children with special needs (ask us about special needs trusts), or beneficiaries who might need protection from creditors and their own unwise decisions.
Without a Will ...
Without a will, the choice of a guardian will be determined by a court.
Without a will, the property might be distributed to these beneficiaries outright or to a conservator chosen by a court, and minor children will receive their property upon reaching the age of 18.
Revocable Living Trusts
A form of trust used to own the property of an individual (“Grantor”) during his or her life, the revocable living trust (“Revocable Living Trust”) provides the Grantor access to the property and income during the Grantor’s life and avoids the necessity of probate of the property upon the grantor’s death. Just like a will, a revocable living trust can be amended or revoked. A revocable living trust can be amended or revoked. The Revocable Living Trust is established by a written trust agreement with a trustee (often the Grantor him or herself, at first) and assets are transferred to the trustee. The trust agreement contains language which governs the management and use of the assets during and after the Grantor dies and, like a will, provides for beneficiaries who take assets after the Grantor dies. The revocable living trust agreement is normally more complex than a will, and requires additional time and money be spent on the transfer of the assets to the trustee, however, it is a useful tool where the Grantor ultimately becomes incapacitated after the establishment of the trust and needs third party management of the assets within the trust. In this case, the successor trustee named in the trust assumes management and control of the assets without the expense of a time-consuming conservatorship proceeding. We are experienced in drafting trust agreements and can help you draft your trust to protect your interests and allow your property to be managed and disposed of as you wish.
Charitable Remainder Trusts
Non – citizen spouses are not treated the same as citizen spouses. The estate of the deceased spouse is entitled to an unlimited deduction for estate taxes for amounts left to the surviving spouse. In order to have the same result for non – citizen spouses, the deceased citizen spouse’s will must provide for the use of a qualified domestic trust into which the bequest to the non – citizen spouse will be placed in order to achieve an unlimited marital deduction, therefore saving estate tax liability. The qualified domestic trust must be drafted to comply with the complicated estate tax rules to obtain favorable tax treatment.
Qualified Domestic Trust
This planning tool is implemented through a person’s will or trust created while the person is alive. It is done by donating assets or cash to the trust. The remainder beneficiary is a charity or group of charities. If the trust is created during the Grantor’s lifetime, the income benefit it retained by the individual establishing the trust and his or her spouse. If the trust is created by the will, the income benefit goes to the specific beneficiaries named in the will. These individuals receive the income for their life or a specified period of time. After the expiration of the income interest, the remainder beneficiary (charity) receives the trust benefit. The planning tool saves income tax if done as a lifetime trust or estate taxes I done as a part of a testamentary gift. The present value of the remainder interest is valued using the approved IRS tables. The individual establishing a lifetime trust receives an income tax deduction. Similarly, an estate tax deduction is received by the estate of the individual establishing the trust under his or her Will.
Special Needs Trust
The Special Needs Trust is established as a fund, which is privately and professionally managed and administered by a corporate Trustee for the sole benefit of the person with the disabilities or other impairments (the Beneficiary). There are two (2) basic types of Special Needs Trusts: General Support and Supplemental Care. Most Special Needs Trusts are Supplemental Care. Contact Clark & Clark to determine which is best for your loved one.
Careful drafting of the Special Needs Trust can allow the disabled beneficiary to become and remain eligible for need – based government, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, which often serve as a significant source of funding for the disabled beneficiary’s special needs. A special needs trusts maximizes all available resources – public and private. For persons of limited means, government programs may constitute the primary source of funding for current and future needs. But, government resources are also available to those with more significant resources who want to use their personal resources for the non – basic needs and quality of life enhancements for their family member. Therefore, the disable person first uses governmental resources, and then the family’s private assets serve as a secondary source of financial support to supplement the government resources.
Guardianships & Conservatorships
For individuals who would like to include charitable giving as an element of their estate planning but who would like more control in how the gifts are used, the attorneys at Clark & Clark Law Group, LLC can assist you in your charitable giving including:
Understanding Limitations on federal income tax and estate tax deductibility of charitable contributions;
Use of donor advised funds through community foundation;
Formation of and qualification of a private charitable foundation as an exempt entity for tax purposes;
Operating your private charitable foundation;
Charitable remainder trusts
Charitable Giving Plan
In Georgia, the Probate Court has jurisdiction to appoint a guardian for an individual or a conservator to manage an individual’s assets. Either type of guardian may be temporary or permanent and limited in scope or with full powers of authority depending on the needs of the individual. The court may appoint one person to serve both functions or divide the responsibilities among two people. A guardian of the person is generally appointed where the individual (“Ward”) is in need of assistance because of incapacity – mental or physical, which renders the Ward unable to take care of himself or herself. A conservator is generally appointed where the Ward needs assistance in managing financial affairs or assets to protect those assets for the benefit of the Ward. The conservatory accounts to the Probate Court for the management of and use of the assets for the benefit of the Ward.