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Gainesville Georgia Legal Blog

Helping a loved one adapt to life with a disability

Car accidents can cause devastating injuries, and many car accident victims sadly will never fully heal. It's common for those involved in car accidents to have life-long disabilities that prevent them from being able to do certain things with independence.

Suffering due to a sudden disability can be very difficult to cope with, especially for those who enjoy living life independently and actively. If you have a loved one who has recently become disabled due to a serious car accident in Gainesville, you may be wondering what support you can offer them to help them to adapt to their new life. The following are some tips to help you be better equipped to do this.

Benefiary decisions can have planning and tax consequences

It sometimes seems like a minor point to name the beneficiary when people in Georgia are setting up their individual retirement accounts. While individuals may not think it's important in the moment, failing to name a beneficiary or naming the wrong one is one of the biggest estate planning mistakes a person can make. The reason is that the family of the IRA owner can go through unnecessary stress or face unnecessary costs when there are beneficiary mistakes.

When the owner of an IRA dies without designating a beneficiary, the assets in the IRA are immediately transferred into the person's estate. In cases where a beneficiary has been properly designated, however, the IRA assets pass outside of probate. Most of the time, people list their spouses as designated beneficiaries on retirement accounts. Indeed, this is required for 401(k)s unless the spouse has made an explicit waiver in writing. With IRAs, it's up to the owner to make the designation. Setting the spouse as the beneficiary often makes the most sense because the spouse's tax obligations will be stretched out for a long period.

Property division involving stay-at-home parents

Divorcing couples in Georgia must make some important decisions regarding the division of marital property. While some states require an equal distribution of joint assets, most states only require that assets are divided fairly. When one partner stays home to take care of children and the other works, it may be harder to decide what this fair distribution would look like.

Around a quarter of mothers stay at home to take care of the children and household. On the other hand, only 7% of fathers do the same. Of the stay-at-home mothers, about 10% are highly educated and have at least a master's degree.

Weather Channel faces wrongful death suit over 2017 car crash

Georgia residents who tune in to the Weather Channel may know that the two stars of the show "Storm Wranglers" died while pursuing a tornado in Texas in March of 2017. The duo had been speeding and apparently ignored a stop sign. That was when they collided with a jeep, killing both the 25-year-old driver of the other vehicle and themselves.

The Weather Channel live streams these tornado chases on its Facebook page. The chase that led up to the fatal crash was recorded as well, abruptly ending at the moment of the collision.

Fear of family conflict prompts people to delay estate planning

Procrastination often results when people in Georgia think about end-of-life planning. Concerns about how family members will react to final wishes about the distribution of an estate also encourage the temptation to delay writing wills or setting up trusts. A survey of 130 financial advisers found that 77 percent of them considered the navigation of family dynamics to be the hardest part about estate planning.

Two-thirds of advisers had to start conversations about estate issues with their clients. Survey results showed that 25 percent of the advisers' clients only raised the subject of estate planning after a life-changing experience. A national manager of trust administration said that many clients fear that talking to family members about final wishes could sow conflict. Children might dislike unequal estate distributions even if their parents disbursed assets in a fair manner from their perspective. People also worry that their estate decisions could alter relationships after people learn how much or how little they will receive.

Seeking civil justice after the accidental death of a loved one

Accidental deaths can be more difficult for people to process than many other forms of death. Accidental death often involves a sudden and unexpected occurrence, such as a motor vehicle accident. Since you have no way of predicting that these events will occur, there are often things left undone or unsettled by the people who survived these accidents. This can make it uniquely difficult to grieve.

You should absolutely give yourself time to process your loss after a fatal crash. However, you also need to take action sooner rather than later to protect yourself and your family in the wake of a fatal car crash. Financial issues can quickly snowball when a wage-earner dies unexpectedly.

Distraction significantly raises highway work zone crash

Georgia residents should be aware of the danger of distracted driving. Reading the average text message takes about five seconds; in that same time, a vehicle going 55 mph can travel the length of a football field. Distractions, which can consist of anything from using the phone to talking with passengers, can especially raise the risk for crashes in highway construction zones.

Researchers at the University of Missouri focused on the link between these two in a recent study. For their data, they analyzed first-hand accounts of driver interactions with their vehicles, the roadway and the environment. This naturalistic driving data was gathered by the Transportation Research Board for its second Strategic Highway Research Program. It involves more than 3,000 drivers who traveled over 50 million miles between the years 2006 and 2015.

GHSA estimates a surge in pedestrian deaths in 2018

The Governors Highway Safety Association has analyzed data collected by state highway safety offices in the first half of 2018. Based on this information, it estimates that 6,227 pedestrians were killed last year. If the estimate is accurate, 2018 marked an increase of 250 deaths from 2017 and was the most deadly year for pedestrians since 1990. Georgia residents may be interested to know what else the GHSA report says.

Pedestrians made up 16 percent of all road fatalities in 2018, compared to 12 percent in 2009. SUV-related pedestrian fatalities have increased 50 percent from 2013 to 2018, compared to a 30 percent increase in passenger car-related pedestrian deaths during that same period. SUVs account for 60 percent of all new vehicle sales. At the same time, the higher front-end profiles make SUVs more deadly when they collide with pedestrians.

Preparing for divorce

Married couples in Georgia may not believe that they might become one of the 2 million divorces that occur each year. However, it is important that they understand the divorce process and the importance of planning before, during and after a divorce.

There are three stages of divorce. They include filing the required paperwork; discovery, in which research is conducted into the financial backgrounds of both spouses; and disposition. For couples who do not want to go through a trial to end their marriage, they have multiple options. Depending on the circumstances of their divorce, a collaborative divorce or mediation may be viable options.

Why estate plans need to be updated

In the modern world, more and more assets are becoming digitized. From photo albums and record collections to stocks and cryptocurrencies, estate plans need to account for the digital sphere if they are going to meet the goals of families in Georgia. Managing digital assets in an estate plan can be challenging for a few reasons. Not only can they be hard to find, but they may require a password or some type of digital signature to access. Ownership rights are also not always clearly defined.

Digital assets, which are the information on devices and not the devices themselves, are important in estate planning because they can have real monetary and sentimental value. When a spouse with access to these assets unexpectedly passes away, the other spouse may not know what to do. Everything from bank accounts to online media collections may remain inaccessible.

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