Scriber Law Group, LLC.

Who Should Attend The Initial Consultation With The Attorney?

The initial consultation is important, and should be attended by as few people as possible. I want to get a chance to learn what the client’s needs are. I do not want anyone else in the room that might influence the client’s plans one way or the other. Under the law, it is very dangerous for someone to bring in a third party who might have an interest in the estate. A typical meeting is between my clients – whether as individuals or couples – and myself to plan their estate.

Should Someone Discuss Their Estate Plan With Their Family?

It is my belief that there is often going to be a dispute, hurt feelings, or some upset about someone’s estate planning decisions. We need to get that out of the way while the person planning is still able to do so. The planning stage is the best opportunity for a client to explain to family members why they did what they did, and put hurt feelings to rest at that point. It is helpful to ensure that no one has any misunderstandings about the situation. This is especially true for life partners, significant others, children, stepchildren, close family members, to all be on the same page so they can understand the document the same way. If the clients feel comfortable talking about their estate plan with those they are close to, we definitely urge them to do so.

Should An Estate Plan Consider Potential Future Occurrences Like A Divorce Or Bankruptcy?

Sure, estate plans should prepare for divorce, or bankruptcies. It is situation-dependent. Generally, I would say yes, all good estate plans consider those. Our number one goal is to account for what happens when someone dies or if they become otherwise incapacitated. We are going to make sure, if my clients become disabled, that their desired course of action steps into place and that we can protect their goals. Depending on the complexity of the client’s assets, and how those assets are held, we can provide some bankruptcy, and potentially divorce protection as well. Nevertheless, those things are again very situational, and we want to make sure we do so in a way that conforms to Georgia law.

Should An Estate Plan Include Provisions For Mediation Or Arbitration In the Event Of A Dispute?

It depends. Mediation and arbitration can both be great ways of handling issues that may arise without resorting to full-blown litigation and going before a probate court judge. The decision on whether to add provisions for mediation and arbitration depends on the comfort of the client. It is definitely a good option, especially in terms of potentially bringing down the cost of any disputes. Depending on the issues at play, the arbitration results might not be fully enforceable, so we want to make sure there is full disclosure to our clients, and make sure there are not any misunderstandings. Once again, depending on the situation, or what the family looks like, the mediation or arbitration causes could potentially be very important.

Can A Business Succession Plan Be Included In My Estate Plan Or Is That A Separate Document?

It depends if there is a business to list, and on the structure of the business. As part of the regular estate planning process, with business owners, we will talk about the succession for the business, and some parts of it are handled or included in the regular estate plan. For the operation of the business, it is important to have the regular estate plan for the owner, but have extra protections in place, so the business continues operations. If it is a plan to wind down the business in a way where other employees or partners are not harmed negatively by a death or disability, we like to handle the estate plan holistically, but there are going to be separate parts in play for business owners.

How Is An Estate Plan Actually Made Official?

For a typical document like a will or a trust, it becomes official upon signing. A standalone trust actually is operational at the day it is signed. It is funded, and it can move into operation almost immediately. On the other hand a will, after it is signed and in place and official under Georgia law, is not binding upon any party until the person who wrote the will (the “testator”) dies. The will is out there, it is signed, legal, and ready to go if something would have happened, but it is not active until a death occurs.

Can I Change My Will Or Estate Plan At Any Time?

Yes, a will is active upon signing in a sense that upon death, it is enforceable. Having said that, you are free to change your will as much as you would like. You can update your will twice a year, and every time you sign a new will it essentially revokes the wills prior. This is generally true for many other estate-planning rules. You can revise many kinds of trusts, you can make a new power of attorney, you can make new advanced directives for healthcare, and you can make a new succession plan. You are often able to replace documents in time, amend them, or make additional add-ons to it. All those parts are adaptable – you can change them as needed – and for the most part, we have to keep up with our clients every year, look at the plan and say, “Do we need an update?” Often there are no changes to be made, but if we do need to make a change, we can make that change now.

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Scriber Law Group, LLC.

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