Baker Law Group

Wills, Probate and Business Law News

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Many of our clients make annual gifts to family and loved ones at the holiday season. So, this Is a good time to review the IRS rules for annual giving.

For 2013, you can give up to $14,000 to any individual, without incurring gift tax, and the gift is income tax free to the recipient. The $14,000 limit does not change for 2014.

Annual giving is a great way to reduce the value of your estate, for estate tax purposes, and you also get the joy of personally seeing your loved ones enjoy the benefits of your generosity.

Remember that if you are making gifts to your children, and any of your children are married, you can also give the same amount to your child’s spouse. So, you could give a total of $28,000 to your child and his or her spouse, each year.

If you are also married, then you and your spouse each give up to the $14,000 limit to your children and their spouses. So, together you could give $28,000 to your child and $28,000 to your child’s spouse, for a total of $56,000.

As you can see, annual gifts done correctly can add up to large dollar amounts that can be removed from your estate and protected from estate tax.

If it’s time to update your Will, or if you’d like to set up a consultation to discuss your estate planning and gifting strategies in depth, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or send an email to info@bakerlg.com

Baker Law Group, LLC

www.bakerlg.com

If you have a Will, it’s important to be sure and keep it updated when there are major changes in your life.

Your Will should not be stored away and forgotten – take it out and review it at least once a year, to be sure that it still works properly, especially if things have changed in your life.

Here’s a handy list of the Top 10 Reasons you may need a new Will:

1.      Marriage

2.      Divorce

3.      Birth of a Child

4.      Moving to a New State

5.      Receiving a Large Inheritance

6.      Your Named Executor Passes Away

7.      The Guardian for Your Minor Children Passes Away

8.      You no longer have a good relationship with someone named in your Will

9.      You’ve Changed Your Mind About Who Should Receive Your Property

If any of these reasons apply to you, it’s important to see an attorney as soon as possible, to get a new Will or a Codicil prepared.

You’re probably wondering – what’s a Codicil? It’s a legal document that changes the terms of a Will. It’s similar to an amendment to a contract, but it must meet the same legal requirements as a Will, in order to be valid.

A codicil is a good option if you only have a few changes to your Will. If there are a lot of changes, or if your life situation has changed significantly, it’s usually better to get a new Will.

If it’s been a while since your Will was done, just give us a call at Baker Law Group, and we can work with you to determine if you need a new Will or a Codicil. Our attorneys are here to help.

Baker Law Group Contact Information

Office Phone (770) 992-4325

Email  info@bakerlg.com

Website www.bakerlg.com

As we get older, many of us find ourselves wondering what the future holds.

What if I have a stroke or a serious accident that leaves me incapacitated? What if I get Alzheimer’s disease? How would I pay for assisted living or nursing home care?

Unfortunately, traditional health insurance policies and Medicare generally don’t cover long-term care in a nursing home or an assisted living facility.

And long-term care is expensive. According to the National Advisory Center for Long Term Care Insurance:

  • In the year 2000, the average annual cost of  long-term care was $55,750
  • In the year 2030, the cost is estimated to be almost $300,000 per year

In our law practice, we’ve seen many families where a parent or grandparent’s life savings were spent on nursing care or assisted living expenses.

How can you protect your life savings and still get the help you need?  The answer: long-term care insurance. We don’t sell insurance, but we’ve seen the difference this coverage can make when a client is facing the need to pay for extended care due to an illness or accident.

Long-term care insurance generally covers home care and assisted living costs, as well as traditional nursing home care. In many cases, children today are unable to care for their aging parents, either because they need to work full time, they live out of state, or they are not able to provide the level of nursing care their parents need.

And many of our older clients tell us that they don’t want to be a burden to their children. At the same time, they want to protect their savings, and pass these assets on to their children. All of this adds up to the need to look at long-term care insurance.

But don’t wait until a major illness strikes, and you have an imminent need for long-term care. At that point, it’s too late to purchase long-term care coverage. You’ll need to buy this coverage ahead of time, while you’re still healthy and able to take care of yourself.

There are many different choices when purchasing long-term care insurance. You should consult a knowledgeable insurance agent to compare the different types of coverage available.  It’s also a good idea to check the options in your benefits package at work – more employers are starting to include long-term care as part of their employment benefits packages.

Long-term care insurance can be an important part of a comprehensive estate plan. We look at the big picture when we meet with clients about their estate plans. Good estate planning is much more than just preparing a Will or Trust – it’s about taking the time to understand your personal, family, and financial situation in a comprehensive way, and designing the best structure to accomplish your personal goals.

If it’s time to review your estate plan, the attorneys at Baker Law Group are ready to help. Just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us: info@bakerlg.com or visit our website at www.bakerlg.com

Yes – everyone should have a financial power of attorney in place, so that a trusted family member or friend can handle paying your bills and your other financial business, if you are not able to handle these day-to-day activities for yourself.

Here’s a quick refresher course on the legal terminology: a Financial Power of Attorney (sometimes referred to as a “Durable Power of Attorney”) is a legal document that allows someone you trust to act on your behalf. The person who acts on your behalf is called an “attorney-in-fact” or an “agent.”

Typically, a Financial Power of Attorney would come into play if you have an accident or a serious illness, and you are too sick to pay your monthly bills or handle your other financial affairs.

You may be thinking – “I’m fine – I don’t need to worry about getting a Financial Power of Attorney.” Let’s hope so, but it’s better to be prepared. None of us knows when an accident or illness may strike.

In our office, we get phone calls at least a couple of times a year from families who want to have a Power of Attorney drawn up for someone who is already in a coma, is incapacitated from a stroke, or has advanced Alzheimer’s disease. In each of these situations, it’s too late to get a Power of Attorney, because the person who is ill is either unconscious or no longer mentally competent.

So what happens then? A family member will have to go to court for an expensive Conservatorship proceeding, and get a court order authorizing them to handle the business affairs of the person who is sick. There will be court costs, legal fees, and a substantial amount of time involved in getting a Conservator appointed. And the law requires ongoing reporting to the court, after a Conservator is appointed.

We know that sometimes accidents and illness strike unexpectedly, and there is no choice other than a Conservatorship under court order. And we are here to help when you need an emergency court hearing to take care of a loved one. But we’d also like to help you head off these problems, by having a good Financial Power of Attorney in place.

At Baker Law Group, we include a Financial Power of Attorney in all our estate planning packages, to be sure that you are prepared for the unexpected.  If you have questions about financial powers of attorney, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us: info@bakerlg.com or visit our website at www.bakerlg.com

There are many different estate planning tools, including the basic Last Will & Testament. However, depending on your situation, a Living Trust may provide advantages over a Will.

What is a Living Trust?

It’s a revocable trust that you set up while you’re alive, usually to avoid the costs and possible problems associated with probate. Basically, you transfer all of your property into the Living Trust now, to avoid the court probate process after you pass away.

Does everyone need a Living Trust?

No.

Can a Living Trust provide important advantages that make settling your estate easier and less costly? Yes. To help you understand the pros and cons, let’s look at some of the key advantages and disadvantages of a Living Trust.

What are the advantages of a Living Trust?

  • Avoid Probate in Your Home State – Remember that a Will must be probated after you pass away. If structured correctly, a Living Trust avoids the court filings and public notices that are involved in the legal probate process.
  • Avoid Probate in Other States – If you own real estate outside your home state, your Will must be probated in each state where you own property. This can be an expensive and time consuming situation, but would be avoided if the real estate is placed in a Living Trust.
  • Privacy – A Trust is a private document, whereas a Will becomes a public document once it’s filed with the Probate Court. Many of our clients value the privacy aspect of Living Trusts.
  • Avoid Will Contests – By avoiding the court probate process required for Wills, use of a Living Trust can be an excellent tool to avoid Will contests by disgruntled relatives or beneficiaries who may be unhappy with the amount they are to receive. This can be especially important in a second marriage or “blended family” situation.
  • Management of Assets if You Become Incapacitated – A Living Trust allows the person you choose as successor Trustee to step in and manage your financial assets if you become incapacitated due to injury or illness.

What are the disadvantages of a Living Trust?

  • More Complicated – Setting up a Living Trust is more complicated than a Will, since it generally involves transfer of your home and other financial assets into your Trust.
  • Higher Upfront Costs – The legal fees to set up a Living Trust are generally higher than the cost to have only a Will prepared. However, when structured correctly, you would avoid the legal fees and court costs associated with probate. So, in many cases there is a net savings.

  • Requires Transfer of Assets Now – In order to avoid probate and enjoy the advantages of a Living Trust, you will need to transfer your financial assets (real estate, stocks, bonds, etc.) into the name of the Trust. Of course, your attorney should handle the deeds necessary to transfer your real estate, and should guide you through the process of transferring your other assets to your Trust.

Living Trusts are not for everyone. For many of our clients, a Last Will and Testament is just fine. But for others, there are definite advantages to setting up a Living Trust.

What situations indicate that a Living Trust might be right for me?

  • You are concerned that someone might challenge your Will
  • You own a vacation home or other real estate outside your home state
  • You want to avoid probate
  • You place a high value on privacy
  • You want your family to be able to settle your estate as easily as possible

To be sure that you understand the advantages and disadvantages of a Living Trust, it’s important to speak with an attorney about which type of estate plan is right for you.

The attorneys at Baker Law Group can help you decide if a Will or a Living Trust is right for your situation.  If you’re interested in learning more, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us at: info@bakerlg.com, or visit our website at www.bakerlg.com.

We’ve had several clients ask us if they need to “file” or “record” their Wills somewhere, after they are signed.

The answer is “No.” In Georgia, like most other states, there is no requirement that you file your Will with any court prior to your death.

Remember that you can change or revise your Will at any time. So, your original Will generally stays with you, hopefully stored in a safe, fireproof location, such as a safe deposit box at your bank. But you don’t need to “file” or “record “ it with the court, while you are alive.

Of course, after you pass away, your Will must be filed with the Probate Court as the first step in settling your estate. But that’s for later. For now, just make sure your Will is stored in a safe place.

While we’re discussing storage, we should also mention that you have the option to store your Will for a nominal fee with the Probate Court in most counties, while you are still alive. This is not an official “filing” or “recording” of the Will, but it is an option if you’re looking for a safe place to store your Will.

Our attorneys at Baker Law Group enjoy working with clients in both the planning stages (writing up your Will) and the probate process (helping families settle estates).  If you have questions about storing your Will or about the probate process, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us: info@bakerlg.com

If you’re working on writing your Will, you’ve probably thought about the person that you want to name as the Executor of your estate. Many clients ask us for advice about how to choose the person who will serve as their Executor.

We know that choosing an Executor can be a confusing and difficult choice, so here is a quick summary of important points to consider:

What are the Responsibilities of an Executor?

An Executor is responsible for settling your estate. This includes paying your outstanding bills, filing your final tax returns, and distributing your money and property per your wishes, as stated in your Will.

It’s important to remember that your Executor will have full access to your money and property during the settlement of your estate.  So, you should have complete trust and confidence in the person you choose for this important role.

What Personal Qualities Should an Executor Have?

An Executor should be:

  • Honest
  • Reliable
  • Trustworthy
  • Organized
  • Financially Savvy
  • Fair to Everyone Involved
  • Able to Manage Competing Demands of Creditors, Family Members and Beneficiaries

Who Should I NOT Choose as Executor?

In general, you should avoid choosing someone who:

  • Has Financial Problems (such as a personal bankruptcy)
  • Has Personal Problems (substance abuse, psychiatric issues)
  • Is Too Busy To Handle the Job
  • Would Have Difficulty Handling Disputes With Family Members or Beneficiaries

As you can see, an Executor plays a crucial role in making sure that your final wishes are properly carried out. So, you should think carefully when you are choosing your Executor.

If you’re ready to write your Will, our attorneys are here to help, and we’ll discuss with you the important issues involved in choosing your Executor. To set up an appointment, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us at info@bakerlg.com

As parents, it’s very important to think about the person who would take care of your children if something happened to you. It’s a big decision, and one of the most important reasons that young parents come in to have their Wills prepared.

If you’re married, and one of you were to pass away, the other spouse would usually take care of the children. But what if you were both killed in an accident?

And what if you are divorced or a single parent? You want to make sure that your children are taken care of by someone you choose.

Remember that if you don’t have a Will, your wishes for who should take care of your children will not be legally stated, and the court may choose someone you would not have wanted, to take care of your children.

What is the Role of the Guardian?

A Guardian is the person who takes care of your children on a day-to-day basis. Your children would live in the Guardian’s home, and the Guardian would prepare their meals, make sure they are dressed for school every day, and in general do all the parenting jobs that you would have done if you were still here.

Who Do People Usually Choose as Guardian?

Most of our clients choose a trusted relative (perhaps a parent, brother or sister). If you don’t have any relatives that you would want to take on this role, then a close friend is another option.

What Qualities Should a Guardian Have?

In general, a guardian should:

  • Be Loving and Compassionate
  • Have Good Parenting Skills
  • Have Similar Values to Yours
  • Be Able to Provide a Stable and Supportive Home Environment

It’s also a good idea to discuss your decision with the person that you are naming as Guardian.  You want to make sure that they are comfortable accepting this role.

If you’re interesting in writing your Will and naming a Guardian to take care of your children, our attorneys as Baker Law Group are ready to help. Just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us: info@bakerlg.com

When you open an account at a bank or brokerage firm, you have a choice of opening your own, individual account or a joint account with another person. Many times, couples who are married choose to open a joint account so that they can both have access to the account. While this often works fine, there are many situations where joint accounts can derail your estate plan, resulting in your assets not passing according to your wishes, as stated in your Will.

Here’s the key fact: under Georgia law, if you have a joint account with another person, the entire balance in that account at the time of your death passes to the other joint owner. So, the entire account goes to that person, even if your Will leaves everything you own to someone else.

This may be fine – if you’ve been married for years and have children together, you may want everything to pass to your spouse first, and then to your children. Or maybe you have no children and just want everything to pass to your spouse. Having your accounts titled jointly will accomplish this, and may avoid probate in passing the assets to your spouse. But what if the facts are different?

Joint accounts can result in some very unpleasant surprises. Unfortunately, we have seen this happen in numerous probate cases handled in our office. Two situations that are particularly dangerous are the elderly client who adds a child’s name to his or her accounts, and the second marriage situation where all assets are held jointly by the two spouses.

Typical Elderly Client Scenario: Your mother is getting up in years and needs help paying her bills and keeping up with her finances. There are two children. You live out of state, so your sister, who lives nearby, offers to help mom with all of this. Mom decides that the best way to do this is to “add my daughter’s name to my accounts.” So, they go to the bank and mom adds your sister’s name as joint owner of all of her bank accounts. Your mother’s Will leaves all of her property to her two children in equal shares. Unfortunately, no one explains to your mother that her bank accounts will pass 100% to her daughter who is now the joint owner of the accounts. When mom passes away, the Bank pays all of the money in the accounts to your sister, and you receive nothing.

Typical Second Marriage Scenario: Your father is lonely after your mother’s death, so he re-marries at age 65. Like many married couples, he and his second wife decide to put all of their accounts in joint name. Your father’s Will leaves a portion of his estate to his second wife, but the majority to his children from his first marriage. Unfortunately, if dad dies with his assets titled this way, everything will go to his second wife and nothing will pass to his children unless his second wife decides to share the money with them. Since she has children of her own from her first marriage, she intends to leave everything to her own children. Result – dad’s children have been disinherited.

When we work with clients on their Wills and estate plans, we always review the total picture – including how all of your assets are titled. It’s critical to do a comprehensive review of what you own and what names are on each account or each real estate property. Otherwise, your true final wishes may not be honored. If you go to an attorney and they just draw up a Will for you without looking at the big picture, your family could end up with an unpleasant surprise.

If you want to be sure your assets are titled correctly, and that the terms of your Will are not superseded by joint account titles, the attorneys at Baker Law Group are here to help. Just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us: info@bakerlg.com

iPhone, BlackBerry & Droid Apps for Seniors

If you own a “smart phone”, then you probably enjoy downloading new mobile apps. In our estate planning and elder law practice, we counsel many families seeking practical, as well as legal, advice about medical care, housing and a host of other issues affecting seniors.

So, we thought you might be interested in hearing about some of the “seniors” apps we’ve come across for iPhone, Droid and BlackBerry. Most of them are free or low cost.

We hope you find an app that’s helpful for your situation.

• Elder411
o Provides 500 pieces of caregiving advice based on Dr. Marion Somers’ experience as a geriatric care manager for over thirty-five years
o Presented in a multimedia fashion that provides answers to your senior caregiving questions
o iPhone ($1.99)
o For more information, visit www.elder411.net.

• Elder911
o A personal crisis management guide created by Dr. Marion Somers that provides information about dealing with a loved one’s medical emergency
o Designed for a crisis situation involving care for aging relatives
o iPhone ($0.99)
o For more information, visit www.elder411.net.

• CareConnector
o Helps keep track of personal medical information for multiple people
o Provides access to a network of caregivers on the Message Board feature
o iPhone (Free)
o For more information, visit www.strengthforcaring.com/careconnector/index.html.

• iPills
o Tracks the medications you need to take, and the time intervals for each one
o Keeps a record of pills you’ve taken, and any medications that you missed
o iPhone (Free)
o For more information, visit www.iliumsoft.com/site/iphone/products_ipills.php.

• Polka Health
o Tracks your personal health issues, such as diet, fitness, blood pressure and health conditions
o You can store, track, and communicate critical health information to your team of doctors or your family
o iPhone ($0.99)
o For more information, visit www.polka.com.

• I.C.E. – In Case of Emergency
o Allows you to put your name, important medical information, and three emergency contacts all on one screen
o Makes key data quickly accessible to police, firefighters or paramedics in a crisis (the ICE concept gained international attention in July 2005 after the London Terrorist Bombings)
o iPhone ($1.99); BlackBerry ($3.95); Droid ($2.99)
o For more information, visit www.ems-options.com (iPhone); www.appventive.com (Droid); www.jaredcompany.com/one_touch_emergency_info.html (Blackberry).

• Epocrates
o A resource for finding detailed information regarding medical conditions, diseases, and medications
o Also has a pill identifier and a drug interaction checker
o iPhone (Free), Droid (Free), Blackberry (Free)
o For more information, visit www.epocrates.com/?ICID=PRiPhone.

• iSeniors
o Locates the nearest senior housing facility based on your location
o Provides a map, driving directions, and contact information
o iPhone ($0.99)
o For more information, visit www.ihealthventures.com.

• Droid911
o Use this app to find the nearest police stations, hospitals, fire departments, tow trucks, gas stations, and ATM machines based on your location
o Droid ($1.30)
o For more information, visit www.appbrain.com/app/com.mansoor.app.droid911.activities.

• iMobileCare
o Gain fast and essential information about medical conditions and situations
o Serves as a mobile first aid guide to show you how to deliver aid and care during emergencies
o iPhone ($1.99); Droid; BlackBerry (Coming Soon)
o For more information, visit www.imobilecare.com.

At Baker Law Group, we enjoy assisting clients of all ages with estate planning, elder law, guardianship and estate planning issues. We especially enjoy helping seniors and their family members facing legal issues. If we can help with a situation you’re facing, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us at: info@bakerlg.com

The New York Yankee empire wept on July 13, 2010, following the death of their owner, George Steinbrenner. Most well-known for his successful ownership of the New York Yankees, Steinbrenner purchased the team in 1973 from CBS for $8.7 million. Steinbrenner’s story of success rests in the numbers – at the time of his death, Steinbrenner’s estate was worth an estimated $1.1 billion.

While Steinbrenner had many lifetime successes, including the evolution of the Yankee empire, he also successfully avoided the federal estate tax. If Steinbrenner had died in 2009, his $1.1 billion estate would have faced a tax amount of nearly $500 million. Instead, by dying in 2010, his beneficiaries will pocket that amount rather than pay the tax.

If Steinbrenner had died in 2011, his estate would have faced an even higher tax rate of 55%, with only a $1 million exemption amount, under current law.

The key to Steinbrenner’s $500 million savings was the adoption of the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001. That law repealed the estate tax, but for calendar year 2010 only. Many people assumed that Congress would take action and re-impose the estate tax in 2010; however, that action has yet to be taken. There is still uncertainty as to what action Congress will take for 2011, and it is possible, but unlikely, that Congress may impose a retroactive estate tax for 2010.

While Steinbrenner did escape the estate tax, his estate likely will have to pay capital gains tax for any assets (such as the New York Yankees) that are sold. However, at the current 15% capital gains rate, that is still a mere $165 million compared to $500 million in estate tax. However, there is no indication that Steinbrenner’s family has any intention to sell the Yankees in the near future.

We can’t all be as lucky as George Steinbrenner in escaping the estate tax, and there are only a few months left in 2010. Since the estate tax is scheduled to return in 2011, planning ahead is the best protection. There are many estate planning tools that can be used to minimize your estate tax liability. Just give us a call (770) 992-4325 or send us an email (info@bakerlg.com) to further discuss estate tax consequences and your options for preserving your assets.

An Advance Health Care Directive is a document that allows a family member or close friend to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so.  The person that makes those decisions on your behalf is called a “health care agent.”

If you don’t have an Advance Health Care Directive, the people that you would want to make these important decisions may not be allowed to do so.  So, your wishes may never be known or honored.

And, if you have an unexpected serious accident or illness, your family may be forced to go to court for an expensive Guardianship order.

So, to protect yourself and your family, everyone should have an up-to-date Advance Health Care Directive.

Many people are not aware that Georgia repealed Living Wills in 2007. So if you find an old form for a Georgia Living Will online or in a form packet from your medical provider, DO NOT USE IT! Any Living Will signed after July 1, 2007 is not valid in Georgia.

You may be wondering – what’s the difference between these two documents? The new Advance Health Care Directive is more comprehensive, and it replaced both the Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney that we used in Georgia before July 1, 2007.

A health care directive is a very important document that you should have in place to prepare for the unexpected.  It is impossible to know when someone may have to make medical decisions for you.

At Baker Law Group, we include a health care directive in our estate planning packages so that you’ll be prepared for the unexpected.  If you are interested in discussing your health care directive, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us at info@bakerlg.com

Many of our clients have seen ads for LegalZoom, and asked us how we are different.

According to LegalZoom’s disclaimer, LegalZoom is NOT:

  • A Law Firm
  • A Substitute For An Attorney
  • A Provider of Legal Advice

So, what exactly is LegalZoom? They are a company located in California, which is “a registered and bonded legal document assistant.”

And what is that? Well, it turns out that California is the only state which allows non-lawyers, known as “legal document assistants”, to prepare legal documents for others.

According to the California Association of Legal Document Assistants, companies like LegalZoom are forbidden to practice law of any sort and forbidden to give you legal advice. So what do they do? The idea is that they “prepare legal documents under the direction of their customer.” So, you are supposed to know what you need and instruct them to prepare the legal documents for you.

Many folks we meet are under the impression that when they hire LegalZoom they are hiring a law firm or an attorney to prepare documents for them. This is not the case, so we want to clear that up for everyone.

You should also know that, in 2009, LegalZoom was sued for the unauthorized practice of law, because an attorney does not review or approve the final legal documents provided to LegalZoom’s customers. The lawsuit was filed in Missouri and is in the process of being converted to a class action lawsuit.

We offer a low-cost Will package that is very competitive with LegalZoom, and you get peace of mind, knowing that you are working with licensed Georgia attorneys who can answer your legal questions and be sure that everything is legally correct. The chart below compares our service to LegalZoom:

Baker Law Group LegalZoom
? Guaranteed Valid

Under Georgia Law

YES NO

USE AT YOUR OWN RISK

? Attorney Prepared

By Licensed Georgia Attorneys

YES NO

NOT A LAW FIRM

? You Meet With An Attorney

Your Legal Questions Are Answered and Your Will Is Reviewed and Explained

YES NO

NO LEGAL ADVICE

? Free Signing Ceremony

With Witnessing and Notarizing of All Documents

YES NO

HANDLE ON YOUR OWN

The attorneys at Baker Law Group are committed to ensuring that you get the best legal advice when you need a new Will. Just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us info@bakerlg.com to discuss how we can help you create a personalized Will and estate plan.

Yes – everyone should have a Will, which is something that many people don’t realize until it’s too late.

If you have children, or if you care who receives your property after your death, then you need a Will.

Why is a Will so important?

  • Choose Who Gets Your Property – A Will allows you to choose who receives your property after death. If you own property (such as your home or wedding ring) that you want to leave to a specific person, you cannot do that unless you write a Will.
  • Gifts of Cash – A Will allows you to make specific monetary gifts to whoever you wish.
  • Guardian for Your Children - A Will allows you to choose the individual who you want to act as Guardian for your minor children.  This is important if you are concerned about who would love and care for your children if you should die unexpectedly.
  • Choose Your Executor – A Will allows you to choose the person who will be in charge of settling your estate (called an “Executor”). This is important, because you are trusting this person to carry out your wishes after you are gone.
  • Gifts to Charity – If you want to make a special gift to your church, school or other charity, to help others after you are gone, you need a Will to make that happen.

  • Who Takes Care of Your Pets? A Will allows you to say you should receive your dogs, cats and other furry family members, to be sure they are taken care of. You can even set up a Pet Trust, if you want to leave money for their care.

As you can see, a Will is a very important document.  Not only does a Will allow you to state your wishes, but it also provides guidance to your family members after you can no longer speak for yourself.

At Baker Law Group, we are committed to helping our clients with Wills that make sure their wishes are carried out.  If you are interested in discussing your individual planning needs, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us: info@bakerlg.com

Pet Trusts

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Using Pet Trusts to Care for Your Furry Family Members

• Do you consider your dog a member of your family?

• Have you ever wondered who will care for your cat when you die?

• Do you want to ensure that your pets continue to receive special foods or receive important medications?

If any of these thoughts have danced through your head, then you need to read this blog post.

Our clients have many different kinds of pets – wonderful dogs, sweet kittens, talking birds, and many others. All of these animals are valued members of the family.

It is important to know that we have an exciting new tool to help you plan for the care of your pets after you are gone. Effective July 1, 2010, Georgia adopted a new Trust Code which, for the first time, specifically permits the creation of Pet Trusts.

Pet Trusts are a very desirable planning tool for people who are concerned about the care of their furry family members. A trust provides great flexibility to allow for detailed planning, such as
special food, veterinary care, medications, toys, treats, and more. By setting up a trust for your pets, you can provide the caregiver you choose with the funds to take care of your pet, as well as detailed information about any special medical needs or care issues.

A Pet Trust will end on the death of your pet, or if you create the trust to provide for several pets, it will end on the death of the last pet.

If a Pet Trust isn’t right for you, we can also include a provision in your Will which simply states who you would like to receive your pets, and including a gift of cash, to thank them for taking care of your pets.

All of us here at Baker Law Group are animal lovers, so if you are interested in learning more about Pet Trusts, just give us a call at (770) 992-4325 or email us: info@bakerlg.com

“It often happens that a man is more humanely related to a cat or dog than to any other human being.” – Henry David Thoreau