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Gainesville Georgia Legal Blog

Upgrading from a will to estate planning

Drafting and executing a will is only a small part of the estate planning process in Georgia. A will effectively serves the purpose of avoiding intestacy, which is the statutory process of disposing of estates that individuals leave behind without properly indicating their wishes; however, this is a legal instrument with many limitations.

Depending on its construction, a last will and testament may not be able to adequately address certain probate issues such as conflicts between heirs and relatives. Since probate cases are handled in public court, they can often turn embarrassing for families; in Georgia, the estate of James Brown, known as the "Godfather of Soul," is an example of a contested will that resulted in plenty of dirty laundry reported by the news media outlets. A solid estate plan, on the other hand, will keep things private by keeping the estate away from probate court.

How to plan for the long-term financial impact of divorce

Georgia residents who are going through the divorce process might want to consider the long-ranging financial impacts of separating from a spouse. According to a report from the Center of Retirement Research, about half of American retirees find it hard to maintain the standard of life they were accustomed to when they were working. However, households that have experienced a divorce are at a 7 percent higher risk of facing a lower standard of living.

This higher risk is further complicated by the changing tax law affecting alimony, which goes into effect in 2019. With the change eliminating the payer's ability to claim the payments as a deduction and the receiver's ability to claim it as income, both payers and receivers can be negatively impacted.

Helping a loved one cope with car crash-related injuries

The closest bonds of love and family ties are something an injured victim will need to fall back on after a serious motor vehicle collision. Facing serious injuries and an inability to return to work, the person who suffered injuries in the crash may require financial and even physical support during convalescence.

Car crashes can result in all kinds of serious medical issues, such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries and traumatic brain injuries. Some people lose limbs, while others experience compound fractures that require surgery and immobilization during recovery. If someone you love suffered serious injuries in an accident, you may need to step up and provide care.

Ignoring collectibles could create estate tax issues

It is important for anyone in Georgia or throughout the country to engage in estate planning. However, it may be even more important to do so for those who own collectibles. This is because collectibles have a higher capital gains tax rate compared to other assets like a house or car. The rate is 28 percent if the item is sold after being held for a year.

If an individual sells a collectible for a profit less than a year after acquiring it, the gains are taxed at his or her personal tax rate. Whether an asset is sold at a profit or not depends on what its value was when acquired. Ideally, an object will be appraised while its original owner is still alive. However, an appraisal done at the time of a person's death may provide the most accurate step-up basis for whoever receives it.

Why estate planning can be helpful for anyone

Estate planning is defined as managing assets during a person's life and after passing while minimizing taxes. Georgia residents who are planning to leave behind any assets at all for future generations can benefit from an estate plan. Ideally, an individual will have at least a will if he or she wants to avoid the potential fate of 55 percent of Americans who don't have one.

A person can have an attorney help craft estate plan documents or create them on his or her own. These documents provide an individual with more control over where his or her assets go after passing away. Instead of hoping that a house goes to a child while money is left to a charity, an estate plan can dictate that this is what happens after a person dies. Having clear instructions may reduce the odds of family infighting after a parent or grandparent passes on.

How tech companies can curb distraction among truckers

Crashes that result from distracted driving tend to be more severe, and they can cost commercial truck fleets a lot, in terms of both money and reputation. Even when they don't get into accidents, truckers can be pulled over for distracted driving and forced to undergo roadside inspections, causing bad delays. Drivers in Georgia should know, though, that many data analysis companies and tech companies have stepped up to address the growing problem.

For instance, Omnitracs has been employing a web-based tool called Driving Center to gather vehicle data and, from that, identify anomalous events like sudden braking and acceleration. In 2016, it created a special module to record hours-of-service data and determine periods when drivers are fatigued or distracted. Zendrive, a data analysis firm, also continues to use smartphone data to measure truck drivers' risk for fleets and insurers.

How is property divided in a Georgia divorce?

Dividing your property can be the most challenging aspect of divorce. Physically dividing everything you accumulated during your marriage can be overwhelming and, for many people, far more complicated than they expect.

That said, the process can be a little easier when you know what to expect. Below, we will explain a few basic elements of property division in Georgia.

Family members have rights under Georgia's wrongful death law

Losing a loved one unexpectedly is absolutely a tragic experience. Motor vehicle collisions are a common source of sudden losses. You may have unresolved issues, such as having had a negative last interaction with your loved one. Worse, you have to somehow adjust to a future without someone you cared for and depended on for much of your life. When a death happens suddenly, it can lead to overwhelming grief. It may be all that you can handle to simply make arrangements for a memorial service or funeral.

One thing that your family should not overlook is responsibility for the accident. In many cases, one driver may be primarily responsible for the crash. Decisions like choosing to text while driving or getting behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can prove to be deadly mistakes. If you lost a loved one because someone else was negligent or engaged in a criminal act, you may have the right to pursue a wrongful death claim.

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