Estate Plan

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Planning Ahead for the New Year

While 2020 has seemed like the never-ending year, it is, in fact, drawing to a close. In the midst of planning for a drastically different looking holiday, many folks will have some year-end tax business, including making charitable donations, contributing to SEP IRAs or putting money into 529 college plans. Others will begin dreaming ahead to New Year’s resolutions—retooling exercise plans that were centered on group classes or promising to finish up quarantine house projects.

Tackling your estate planning covers both bases—it’s a smart, forward-thinking financial decision and a “resolution” that you can actually knock out with just a few straightforward steps. This winter, resolve to build an estate plan that works for you, gives you peace of mind and takes at least one thing off your already-busy plate.

Why you need an estate plan
Many people are under the misconception that estate planning is just for the very wealthy. Others think it’s only necessary as you age, ignoring that uncomfortable truth that no one knows when they may become incapacitated or pass away. The truth is, estate planning is for anyone over the age of eighteen, but especially people who own assets, including bank accounts or real property, anyone with children and anyone who wants a say in their potential medical care.

What’s included in an estate plan?
While it’s possible to create DIY, one-size-fits-all estate plans, doing so doesn’t make much sense. That’s because every family is different and every family’s financial situation is different. For the parents of special needs children, for example, an estate plan that doesn’t take public benefits into account could be financially disastrous. Well-crafted estate plans will often include:

      • A last will and testament. This document names your executor and lays out how you want your estate to be handled after you die. If you plan to leave some of your assets to charity, you do so here. The parents of minor kids will also name a guardian should they both die.
      • Advance medical directive and living will. This will allow a person of your choosing to make medical decisions for you if you’re unable. You may also detail your wishes regarding end-of-life or life-sustaining care.
      • Financial power of attorney: Again, if you’re unable, a person of your choosing will be able to help pay your bills, sell assets and handle other financial matters.

    Additionally, families with a special needs child may include a revocable trust to protect that child’s future.

    Why creating an estate plan should be a 2021 goal
    According to the American Bar Association, 55 percent of Americans die without an estate plan, creating expensive problems for their survivors. It’s easy to put off, especially since it may seem not only uncomfortable but also time consuming or daunting.

    Usually, however, it’s only working up the will (pun intended!) to make the first call that’s the challenge. After that, an estate attorney can help guide you through the rest of the process. There will be some things you’ll need to answer yourself, like how you envision end-of-life care, or who you want to raise your children if you pass away while they’re young. But don’t let uncertainty or discomfort stop you from going through the process. It’s possible (and recommended!) to revisit estate plans as financial situations change, kids grow up and values shift.

    Estate planning can protect your minor child, your special needs child, your surviving spouse (or healthy spouse if you’re ill) and your financial assets. It also saves your family from having to make challenging decisions on your behalf and from dealing with issues created without proper estate planning.

    This season, make it a priority to get an estate plan in place, or update your plan if it’s been a long time since you drafted it. We promise it will be easier than running a half marathon, doing a Marie Kondo on your home or giving up carbs.

    Speak With an Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer

    Planning is more important than ever right now. At Nadler Biernath, we have experience handling all aspects of estate planning, special needs law and elder law. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.

By | 2020-11-13T21:22:18+00:00 November 13th, 2020|Estate Plan, Special Needs Trusts|0 Comments

Disability Advocates Push to Make Voting Safe and Accessible in 2020

During the early stages of the pandemic, many voters with special needs experienced new problems when attempting to cast their ballots in the spring primaries. Inaccessible polling places, concerns over contracting the virus and issues with receiving or completing mail-in ballots kept some individuals from exercising their right to vote.

Disability advocates at the national and local level have long pushed for more reliable protections for voters. But now, with a major federal election approaching and continued complications due to the pandemic, advocates are working hard to educate individuals with disabilities about their rights and options in 2020.

What are your voting rights as an individual with a disability?
In Georgia, individuals with physical or mental special needs have the right to vote. Individuals who are under legal guardianship maintain that right, provided that their guardianship order does not specifically remove the right to vote.

While the Georgia registration deadline for the Nov. 3 election has passed, an eligible voter must be 18 by Election Day, have no felony arrest record and be a U.S. citizen. Georgia law states that “mental incompetence” is a disqualifier to registration. However, because the law does not define mental incompetence, this provision does not bar anyone with a disability from registering and voting.

Georgians with special needs also have the right:

    • To vote with assistance, receiving help from the person of their choosing (with limited exceptions)
    • To use an assistive voting device
    • To access a voting unit that allows for sitting or wheelchair use
    • To vote without reading or writing tests
    • To physically access their polling place or an alternative location in their precinct

Preparing to vote in person
If you choose to vote in person this year, voting early is likely the way to go. All polling places are required to be fully accessible. The workers there should understand how to assist you.

Poll workers looking to ensure their location is accessible can find a list from the Justice Department of temporary fixes for common access problems.

You’ll need a photo ID, like a driver’s license, voter ID card or U.S. passport.

Georgia early voting runs from Monday, Oct. 12 to Friday, Oct. 30. You can check the Secretary of State’s site for locations and hours. DeKalb County and Fulton County, for example, have multiple early voting locations with varying hours and weekend availability.

You can also use Georgia’s My Voter Page to determine your polling place if you choose to vote on Election Day, Nov. 3.

Preparing to vote with a mail-in ballot
This year, voting by mail-in ballot has taken off as individuals avoid the potential Covid exposure of in-person locations. As of early October, a quarter million ballots had already been returned in Georgia. Anyone can request a mail-in ballot, and you may do so online or by sending in an application.

After placing a request, you can verify that your application was accepted, but keep in mind that the closer Election Day gets, the harder it will be to receive your mail-in ballot and return it on time. You’ll likely want to have an alternative in-person voting plan.

If you’ve received your ballot, you can return it either by mail (be sure to affix correct postage) or by hand-delivering it to a dropbox in your registered county. The box must be in your registered county for your vote to count. If you choose to vote by mail, your ballot must be postmarked by Tuesday, Nov. 3 and received by Friday, making it important to get it in the mail early.

While there are likely to be some gains for the special needs community with the increased availability of absentee voting, mail-in ballots don’t work for everyone. Disability advocates across the country have sued their state boards of elections, arguing that mail-in paper ballots make voting privately and independently impossible for some voters, especially those with visual impairments.

The American Civil Liberties Union is pushing for electronic absentee ballot options that allow voters to use screen readers, digital magnifiers or text-to-speech software to complete their ballots. The ballots are then printed and mailed or dropped off.

However you choose to vote this year, remember that a disability does not have to prevent you from being able to exercise your right to vote.

Speak With an Atlanta Special Needs Lawyer

If you’re the parent or loved one of an individual with special needs, you’ll want help protecting his or her future. Call Nadler Biernath today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.

By | 2020-10-22T14:45:29+00:00 October 21st, 2020|Estate Plan, Special Needs Trusts|0 Comments

How to Apply for Benefits as a Grandparent

How to Apply for Benefits as a Grandparent

If you’re a grandparent raising a child, it can be challenging to handle the extra expense. Even if you’re still working or are financially comfortable, the costs of education, medical care, food, clothing and college savings can be a lot to absorb. And if you’re on a fixed income, it may seem difficult to continue to meet your own needs and provide for the child, or children, you love.

In Georgia, more than 100,000 grandparents are the heads of households raising grandkids. Of these, more than 57 percent work, nearly 24 percent live in poverty and almost 27 percent have a disability. Fortunately, there are numerous benefits available for grandfamilies, depending on work history and financial need.

SSDI Benefits for Grandkids
For individuals with Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, grandchildren may be eligible for auxiliary benefits. To receive auxiliary benefits:

  • Kids must be under 18 and living with a grandparent before turning 18
  • Their parents must be deceased or disabled
  • The children must have received at least half of their financial support from their grandparent in the year before the grandparent became eligible for SSDI (or have been living with the grandparent from birth if they are under a year old)

If the grandparent has legally adopted the grandchild, then the child must be unmarried and under the age of 18.

For grandparents with special needs grandkids, auxiliary SSDI benefits may continue past age 18 if the child is considered disabled as became so before age 22.

Social Security survivor’s benefits may also be an option to grandchildren whose parents have passed away.

Public Benefits Available to Grandparents
In addition to SSDI auxiliary benefits, grandparents may qualify for other public benefits based on need. These include:

  • Medicaid for kids
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  • Child Care and Parent Services (CAPS)

Many grandfamilies also use Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to help cover some of the costs of raising a child. Assistance may come monthly or provide short-term help (allowing a grandparent to buy a new car seat or pay a bill).

Child-only TANF grants take the child’s income into account (usually child support payments or SSI payments. The national average for child-only TANF grants is about $8 per day. Family grants require the grandparents meeting Georgia income requirements and are only available for a limited period.

With so many potential programs available, all with their own requirements, it can be a challenge to determine what resources are available. It’s especially challenging when the grandchild has special needs and has his or her own benefits eligibility requirements and options. Some organizations focus specifically on this need: Project GRANDD (Grandparents Raising and Nurturing Dependents with Disabilities) helps with referrals, case management and support groups.

Speak With an Atlanta Elder Law Attorney

At Nadler Biernath, we know it can be tricky to work out benefits eligibility. We have experience handling all aspects of elder law and special needs law, positioning us to help you support your grandchildren. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.

By | 2020-09-15T17:32:51+00:00 September 15th, 2020|Estate Plan, Special Needs Trusts|0 Comments

What To Expect In Our Consultations

What To Expect In Our Consultations

For most folks, the idea of estate planning can be a little uncomfortable. But, the truth is, the hardest part is often working up the will (pun intended!) to make the first call. At Nadler Biernath, we do our best to make the process painless, taking care of our clients and helping solve their problems. We’re here to give you peace of mind. We’ve seen how difficult things can be when people don’t have estate plans in place. When guardianship is needed or a special needs child isn’t protected, families can struggle—emotionally and financially—sorting everything out. 

If you’re still feeling nervous about the process, or intimidated by the potential time commitment, we wanted to share what a typical consultation might look like. Of course, every family is different, and every family’s needs are different. We don’t like one-size-fits-all solutions. But, for our new clients, we can still give you a good idea of what to expect, what to bring and what to think about beforehand. 

What our process looks like

After you contact us to schedule, we send you straightforward intake forms to email, fax or mail back to our office before we meet. With a special needs planning consult, for example, we’d ask for family details, like names and ages of spouses or children, and financial information, like account types and approximate amounts in each account.

Having the forms ready to go at our first chat lets us start off with a substantive conversation. It gives us a broad picture of your needs so we can begin to ask the right questions. 

Once we meet (which may be over the phone due to the COVID-19 pandemic—more on that below), our attorneys will ask about what you’re looking for from our office. We’ll also want to hear about family dynamics, like stepchildren, the relationship between adult kids or an ex-spouse. 

After that, we can make recommendations based on your needs, helping weigh in on whether to seek guardianship or set up a certain type of trust. Most of our clients leave that first meeting visibly relieved. In fact, we’re pretty proud of how often people tell us it wasn’t nearly as hard as they’d thought it would be. 

How to get ready for your consult

Before your consult, you don’t need to research every estate planning option or start learning Georgia statutes. Instead, think about the big questions—the things we can’t answer for you:

  • Who do you trust to involve in your estate plan? You’ll want to consider family members and friends who you trust financially, or who you’d want to care for your minor or incapacitated children.
  • Who do you want to leave your assets to? What if your children are still minors? 
  • What assets do you have? We need to know what types of assets you hold (property, retirement accounts, investments), how much they hold and how they’re titled—not the account numbers or exact amounts. 

How we’re operating during the COVID-19 pandemic

For now, we’re continuing to see clients virtually, but that hasn’t changed the way we do our consults. We miss seeing folks face-to-face, but we also respect that our client population and their families are often at higher risk for serious coronavirus complications. Most people prefer phone calls, though we can also set up secure, password-protected Zoom calls. We’re hoping to begin slowly reopening our office to clients in the near future, though we’ll always make client and staff safety our priority. 

Speak With an Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer

At Nadler Biernath, we know estate planning isn’t the easiest thing to think about. However, we work hard to make the process simple for our clients. We have experience handling all aspects of estate planning, special needs law and elder care law. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation to discuss how we can help your loved ones.

By | 2020-06-18T17:12:54+00:00 June 17th, 2020|Estate Plan|0 Comments

Advanced Directive for Health Care

Advanced Directive for Health Care

What is an advance directive?

For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic has made distant end-of-life scenarios suddenly feel less remote. Being faced with a known, widespread illness—one that often leaves people hospitalized apart from loved ones—makes expressing one’s wishes in writing feel more urgent than ever. 

Advance directives are one legal tool used to express those wishes now, taking the pressure off of family members. And while healthcare decisions related to the coronavirus are top of mind for many, an advance directive is really for anyone at any point in life.

What is an advance directive in Georgia?  

An advance directive is a state-specific document that appoints an agent to make health care decisions if you are unable to make them yourself and stating your preferences on the type of care you would like to receive at the end stages of your life. When these end of life care preferences are not dictated, doctors have a range of emergency treatments they draw on to keep patients alive, including the use of:

  • Ventilators
  • CPR
  • Tube feeding or intravenous fluids

How do you draft an advance directive? 

If you don’t already have an advance directive, begin by thinking about what’s most important to you in life and what type of care you’d want to receive. What are your priorities in regard to personal care? Does your faith dictate a certain type of end of life process? You may want to set up a virtual consultation with your family doctor in order to talk about any existing health risks you have. Think about health history and the end-of-life care relatives received. You may also wish to learn more about palliative care or comfort care.

Once you’ve thought through your choices, you should memorialize your wishes in an advance directive for healthcare. A lawyer is not required to execute an advance directive, but consulting with a lawyer will ensure that your advance directive reflects your wishes. After your documents are complete, you may wish to share a copy with your doctor to keep in your file. You’ll also want to speak with family members about your plans. 

Whatever you decide now, your document can be revisited as your values shift, your perspective on life changes or as you face a known disease or condition instead of a theoretical emergency. 

This is a difficult time for everyone right now, filled with stress and anxiety. But it’s also causing many people to think about what matters most to them. End-of-life care is deeply personal. We understand that, and we’re here to help. 

Speak With an Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer

At Nadler Biernath, we’re happy to be able to support families as they navigate this ongoing crisis. We have experience handling all aspects of estate planning, special needs law and elder law. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation (conducted virtually) to discuss how we can help your loved ones. Stay safe and healthy!

By | 2020-06-04T18:18:04+00:00 June 3rd, 2020|Estate Plan|0 Comments

Get Your Estate Planning in Order

Get Your Estate Planning in Order

With stay-at-home orders, dire predictions and story after story covering the unsettling present, this is an undeniably stressful time—one that can easily send thoughts off on a “what if” trajectory of worst case scenarios. But it’s also a time to reassess what’s most important to us. To simplify what we can and protect those we most care about. To that end, many people are thinking about estate planning more seriously than they ever have before.

Of course, estate planning is always important, with or without a pandemic in the picture. That’s because estate planning doesn’t just address your financial assets. It also covers guardianship for minor or incapacitated children, planning for the possibility that you may become incapacitation, and making potential end-of-life care decisions.

Here are some planning documents you’ll want to consider including in your estate planning:

  • Financial Power of Attorney: This document appoints a financial agent – someone who can handle your finances on your behalf. The document also allows you to pick and choose specific powers to grant to your agent. If you’re hospitalized and in serious condition, your financial power of attorney could allow your agent to pay your bills, address retirement benefits, file taxes, and address other financial needs.
  • Advance Directive for Healthcare: This document combines the “power of attorney” and “living will” decisions. In the Advance Directive, you appoint a healthcare agent – someone to make medical decisions on your behalf, if you’re unable to do so. You may also share your wishes regarding life-sustaining interventions, taking the burden off your family members.
  • Last Will and Testament: This will detail how you want any assets held in your name to be distributed after your passing. You will also name an executor. If you have minor children, you’ll nominate a guardian for them if you pass away along with their other parent.
  • Revocable Trust: While a trust is not necessary for everyone, some clients will want to establish one. Trusts can be particularly important for clients with minor or special needs children, those who own out-of-state property, and those considering long-term care planning.

Wills must be witnessed and notarized to be valid. This April, in light of the COVID-19 crisis, Georgia’s governor issued an executive order allowing remote witnessing and notarization of documents. The executive order, only in effect during this crisis, provides safeguards to be sure document signings are witnessed and notarized properly.

After creating your estate plan, it’s a good idea to make your wishes known to family members and keep your documents in a safe location. You’ll also want to list your financial accounts and online passwords (in a safe place), as well as any wishes you have regarding social media accounts, email accounts or personal correspondence.

Considering worst case and end of life scenarios is tough, but we try to make it as painless as possible. Creating a trust or last will and testament is a gift to give your family, and we’re ready to help you get started.

Speak With an Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer

Planning is more important than ever right now. At Nadler Biernath, we’re happy to be able to support families as they navigate this ongoing crisis. We have experience handling all aspects of estate planning, special needs law and elder law. Call us today at 770-999-9799 to schedule your initial consultation (conducted virtually) to discuss how we can help your loved ones. Stay safe and healthy!

By | 2020-04-14T14:01:39+00:00 April 14th, 2020|Estate Plan|0 Comments

Super Lawyers 2020 Recognize Laura Akins and Heather Nadler!

The attorneys at Nadler Biernath are pleased to announce that Associate Attorney Laura Akins has been recognized as 2020 Rising Star on the Georgia Super Lawyers list. Partner Heather Nadler has also been recognized as a Super Lawyer—a designation she’s earned since 2015. Both Laura and Heather were recognized in the field of Elder Law.

Each year, Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters company, evaluates attorneys from across the United States for an annual roundup of top lawyers. Super Lawyers features attorneys from more than 70 practice areas. The multiphase selection process draws on peer nominations and evaluations, as well as independent research.

The Rising Stars list devotes particular attention to lawyers who are 40 years old or younger, or who have been in practice for fewer than 10 years. Only 2.5 percent of lawyers who practice in Georgia are honored as Rising Stars.

Congratulations to Laura and Heather from the entire team!

About Nadler Biernath

Nadler Biernath is a law practice dedicated to the planning needs of senior citizens and individuals with special needs. Nadler Biernath assists clients in the Atlanta area and throughout Georgia. Contact us today for a free consultation.

 

By | 2020-02-14T14:27:20+00:00 February 13th, 2020|Estate Plan, Latest News and Events|0 Comments

Estate Planning For Families With A Special Needs Child Business Radio X

Estate Planning For Families With A Special Needs Child Business Radio X

Nadler Biernath attorney Kim Martin had the privilege of appearing on Gaslowitz Frankel’s Wealth Matters radio show, discussing how to estate plan when you have a special needs child. It was a great conversation, and if you weren’t able to listen live, you can watch the show on YouTube, or listen through Business Radio X’s website. Click to view the video on YouTube below, and be sure to read more on our FAQ’s page and within the Special Needs Planning Section of our website.