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Gainesville Georgia Legal Blog

Estate and financial planning

Some Georgia residents may not realize that estate and financial planning go hand in hand. For example, many may believe that estate planning only makes sense if someone has financial assets to leave behind. These individuals may opt to engage in personal financial planning long before outlining their estates or making end-of-life decisions.

However, the reality is that the best estate and financial plans are created in tandem. For example, while an individual might not have a lot of money to leave behind, he or she may still have a mortgage, a lease, life insurance policies or retirement accounts that will have to be managed after death. In addition, some of these assets and accounts, such as 401(k) plans, are not managed via conventional wills but through a separate set of documents that must be completed through a retirement plan administrator's office.

Handling the family home in divorce property division

People in Georgia who decide to divorce may face difficult questions about how to handle the marital home as part of the settlement. Unlike traditional financial assets, the home cannot simply be split like a bank account or retirement fund. However, unlike other sentimental items, the home has a great deal of material value and is often the largest single asset held by the divorcing couple. Due to the difficulties involved, many couples address this issue by selling the home as part of the divorce. The sale of the home allows the proceeds to be used to pay off a mortgage balance and distribute the remaining funds as part of the overall settlement.

However, in many cases, one spouse wants to remain in the family home after the divorce is concluded. This is especially common if there are children involved and the remaining spouse is the primary caregiver or custodial parent. While this can be a positive solution for some couples, it requires thinking about the financial consequences of keeping the home. In most cases, the remaining spouse will need to buy out the interest of the other spouse in the home, often requiring a significant sum.

External airbags and occupancy safety

Georgia residents who purchase new vehicles in the future may find that they are equipped with external airbags. A manufacturer of external airbags states that its external airbag can reduce the degree of injury suffered by occupants of a vehicle by as much as 40 percent. This data can be a significant factor in having external airbag technology installed in vehicles in production.

The external airbags designed by the manufacturer are meant to be deployed from the sides of the vehicle in the event of an impact. The airbags are intended to serve as supplemental crumble zones when a vehicle is struck. The airbags will essentially resemble and function like enormous pillows capable of enduring some of the force from a side-impact crash.

6 reasons to update your estate plan

Making your estate plan was a terrific first step, but don't assume that's the only step you need to take. Those documents may not work forever. Depending on how life moves forward, you may need to update them. Below are six reasons to look over your estate plan and consider changes.

1. Children become adults

An executor should be chosen with care

Georgia residents often delay the necessary process of creating a will. Either due to uncertainty regarding beneficiaries, general procrastination or an unwillingness to confront one's mortality, doing what should be done often remains undone. When estate owners finally realize the importance of having a will in place, they will need to consider the importance of choosing the right executor.

Named by the testator, or the person writing the will, the executor must wrap up the business of the testator's estate and carry out the terms of the will. Financial planning experts emphasize that the main character trait desirable in an executor is responsibility. It need not be a person with any specific training or expertise, such as a lawyer or accountant, but it should be someone who is responsive, a good communicator willing to make hard choices.

Watch out for delayed car crash injuries

When people in Georgia are hit in a car accident, they may not notice all of their symptoms immediately. In some cases, people may believe they are uninjured until the immediate shock of the accident wears away. In other cases, they may think they have only minor injuries only to discover later that there were far more serious concerns. It can be particularly important for accident victims to seek prompt medical care after an accident to highlight potentially dangerous, undetected signs of injury.

When people have headaches after a car accident, it can throw up a red flag. Headaches are often a sign of a serious concussion, a head or neck injury or even a blood clot on the brain. Traumatic brain injuries often go undetected immediately after a crash, but they can require treatment and cause long-term effects. Whiplash is another common injury that often goes missed immediately following a crash. Instead, people begin to notice neck and shoulder pain in the days following a crash. Because many whiplash-inducing crashes take place at low speed, people may dismiss their signs; however, diagnosis could require a CT scan or MRI to confirm the problem.

Keeping kids safe and loved after a divorce

Georgia residents don't expect that their marriages are going to fail. However, if a marriage does come to an end, it is important to consider the impact it will have on a child. Children may believe that they were the reason why a marriage fell apart. They may also feel as if their parents are not going to be in their lives anymore since mom and dad likely won't live together anymore.

Parents should explain to their kids that they were not the reason why the divorce happened. This should be done in a tasteful way that doesn't put the child in the middle of a conflict.

Authorities continue limousine crash investigation

Some Georgia residents may have heard about a deadly limousine crash that occurred on Oct. 6 in New York. The limousine did not come to a stop at an intersection, hit a parked vehicle with no passengers in it and went into a ravine. In all, 20 people died in the accident. The limousine company owner was later taken into custody by police who allegedly said he appeared to be trying to flee and had suitcases in his car.

In March, the limousine had been taken in for inspection and cited for two instances of brake failure by the New York State Department of Transportation. In September, it was taken in a second time, and on that inspection, the DOT noted that problems from the earlier inspection were not addressed.

3 tips for a safe motorcycle ride

Riding a motorcycle is fuel efficient, typically cheaper than driving a car and just plain cool. There is nothing quite like cruising down an open stretch of highway with the wind in your face and nothing between you and the beautiful scenery of Georgia. However, these benefits also come with some significant risks. For example, a motorcycle wreck is much more likely to end in the death of the rider than most car wrecks.

While this does not mean that you should give up riding your motorcycle, it does indicate that it would be appropriate to always follow even basic motorcycle safety protocols. Here are some tips to help you stay safe on your next ride.

Estate planning to reduce conflict

Poor estate planning can often lead to unintended consequences for loved ones, including family conflicts. One of the first steps a Georgia estate owner can take in order to make this less likely is choosing the right executor.

Some families descend into conflict because they do not trust the executor, even if it is a family member. In other bad scenarios, the executor will not communicate or follow through on the necessary duties. One way to prevent this is by choosing a professional as an executor. This might be a corporate trustee or a fiduciary depending on the size of the estate. Estate owners should also make sure they have addressed what will happen to sentimental items. These can often cause the biggest fights. To avoid issues, it's wise to talk to family members about what they want.

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