Category Archives for "Financial"

Pros and Cons of Joint Bank Accounts with Mom Or Dad

Pros and Cons of a Joint Account with Mom or Dad

Adding a child to a bank account might seem like the perfect solution to safeguarding an elderly parent’s finances. Once added to the account as joint owner, the child can help with bill paying, and can monitor the account balance to control double payments or excessive gifts.  When the parent dies, the account passes to the surviving joint owner without requiring probate.

But there are down sides to adding a joint owner to a bank account that should be considered, and too often aren’t.  If the child added to the account has financial problems, the child’s creditors can access the funds in mom’s or dad’s account to satisfy the child’s debt.  In that circumstance, the decision to add a child to the account to make it easier to protect the parent’s money can result in the loss of the entire account.

Another down side to adding a joint owner that is often not considered is what happens when mom or dad dies if there are other children.  Under Georgia law, the child on the account as joint owner receives one hundred percent of the account. Even if the parent has left a Will leaving everything equally to all the children, the other children will not receive a share of the joint account.  Of course, the child who receives the account is free to split the funds with the other children, but there is no legal requirement to do so. If the joint owner chooses to keep all the funds, the decision to add that child to the account caused the other children to be disinherited and undid the parent’s intended estate plan.

If the risks to adding a child to the account as joint owner outweigh the benefits, there is another solution.  The parent can execute a Power of Attorney. Georgia’s 2017 statutory power of attorney form includes provisions authorizing an agent to pay bills and manage bank accounts.
A properly executed Georgia Power of Attorney can accomplish the goal of safeguarding mom’s or dad’s account, without the possible legal risks.

If your parent has not created their Power of Attorney, or you are not sure if it is correctly created, then you want to make it a priority to take the time now to get a proper one set up.  Don’t put it off and wait, because you never know when that emergency situation could arise.

We are able to provide the expertise for you to help make sure that Mom or Dad has their wishes carried out along with making sure you as the child has proper control over their finances. Call (770) 817-4999 or contact us here today.

Help Your Executor Out

Help Your Executor Out

When putting together your estate plan, you need to choose an Executor, the person responsible for administering your estate. Once you’ve decided on who that should be, there are things you can do to help your Executor out.

Prepare a list of assets, including real estate, bank and investment accounts, insurance and retirement accounts. Include account numbers and contact information. Years ago, if an executor couldn’t find account statements, it might take a month or two of waiting for the statements to show up in the mail. Hard copy statements sent by regular mail are becoming more and more rare. If your asset and account information is stored online, how will your Executor find it?

You may not want to share information with your Executor now, but you can still assemble it, and let your executor know where to find it. Whether you use a password manager, or have your own system for storing and updating passwords, your executor is going to need your user names and passwords. While it is important to keep such information secure, it is also important not to keep it so secure that the person you’ve chosen to carry out your estate plan can’t get access to the information needed to do the job.

Another list to prepare is people to contact. This includes your accountant, your attorney, and your insurance agent. It also includes your next of kin. To probate a Will in Georgia, the Executor has to provide the Probate Court with the names and addresses of your next of kin. If you don’t have a spouse, children or grandchildren, that list could include living parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews if a sibling is deceased. Even if you haven’t had contact with someone on that list for years, the Executor will still have to track that person down.

Serving as an Executor is a job that requires time and effort. You can help your Executor out by making sure the information needed to do that job is easy to find.

If it’s time for you to make an update to your estate plan, or you are not even sure where to begin, click here to schedule a time to come and meet with our experts who can support you through the entire process.

Georgia’s New Power of Attorney Law

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that names another person as agent to handle financial and business affairs for the person who signed the Power of Attorney.  On July 1, 2017, Georgia implemented a new law on Powers of Attorney that should make it easier for families to use a Power of Attorney when needed.

Under the old law, banks and financial institutions often refused to accept a Power of Attorney because  they said it was too old.  That caused hardship for many families.  It was a common occurrence for a parent to sign a Power of Attorney naming a child as agent, but when the child tried to use it several years later because the parent had dementia, the bank refused to honor the document. That meant going above local bank managers to higher ups or even hiring an attorney to argue with the bank.  Sometimes the family ended up having to go to court to file for Guardianship and Conservatorship, which was what having the Power of Attorney was supposed to prevent.

The new Power of Attorney law says that a Power of Attorney can’t be rejected simply because time has passed since it was signed.  There are methods to establish that it is still a valid document.  If a bank still refuses to accept a Power of Attorney after the steps outlined in the new law to prove its validity are followed, a court can order them to accept it and to pay for the costs of  having to file that court action, as well as damages.

This is great news for families, because they can now have confidence that a Power of Attorney using the new form, signed after July 1, 2017, will work when it is needed.  Because the new law only applies to Powers of Attorney that are signed after July 1, 2017, and the old law will still apply to Powers of Attorney signed before that date, people with old Powers of Attorney should be sure to update them using the new form.

If you want to make sure that you are secured with the right Power of Attorney with the new law change, then make sure and contact us today.  We will help you update your Power of Attorney so it will be effective!

Is a power attorney of attorney enough?

Is A Power Of Attorney Enough?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document giving someone, known as the “agent”, the authority to handle financial and legal matters for the person who creates the Power of Attorney, called the “principal”.  A Power of Attorney can be limited: an elderly mother gives her son Limited Power of Attorney to handle the sale of her house.  A Power of Attorney can be general, giving the agent broad authority to handle all financial and legal matters.

A Power of Attorney is an important part of an estate plan, but unfortunately, families are being frustrated trying to use them.  Banks and financial institutions will often refuse to honor a Power of Attorney.  They may reject it because it’s too old. There’s no way of knowing how old is too old. A financial institution recently rejected a Power of Attorney that was thirteen months old. Very commonly, they insist that their customer sign a new Power of Attorney using the institution’s own Power of Attorney form.

Families usually don’t try to use a Power of Attorney until the principal is no longer able to manage, and at that point, may be incompetent to sign legal forms.  What happens if the bank says the Power of Attorney is too old, or they simply won’t accept one that isn’t on their own form, but the principal isn’t legally competent to sign a new one?

Sometimes it requires going above local managers to higher-ups, and sometimes it requires the intervention of an attorney.

It is wise these days to be proactive, and make sure that the bank or brokerage firm will honor the Power of Attorney while the principal still has capacity.  That can be daunting if the principal has accounts at multiple institutions.

If the principal is elderly, or if there are signs of dementia, another approach is to include a Trust in the estate plan, rather than relying on a Power of Attorney.  A valid Trust will be accepted no matter how old it is, and the financial institution isn’t going to have its own form for a Trust.

Are you wondering what is exactly right for you and your needs?  Attend one of our Free Workshops to educate yourself on how you can protect your stuff in 3 easy steps.  We invite you to register today and take the first step in knowing the right documents you need to protect you and your loved ones.