James Miskell, Attorney at Law

When it comes to estate planning, the most familiar document is the last will and testament. Most people have a basic understanding that a will allows you to appoint a personal representative (an executor) upon your death and directs that person to distribute your assets as you specify. Put another way, a will says who gets your stuff when you die—but until you die, it does nothing.

James Miskell, Attorney at Law

The largest obstacle to effective estate planning is procrastination. Sitting down to prepare a Last Will and Testament is not at the top of anyone’s “this is a fun thing to do” list. Yet death, like taxes is a certainty.

James Miskell, Attorney at Law

If the distribution of your property is important to you, you can use a will or a trust to give instructions about who gets what when you die. If you die without a properly executed estate plan, state law will determine how the probate court will divide and distribute the things you own. Of course, the state of Georgia’s estate plan won’t take your particular wishes into account. So, most people prefer to put their own plan into place. 

James Miskell, Attorney at Law

The numbers vary somewhat from survey to survey, but each new study that is released reveals that large numbers of Americans do not have a will. Not having a will is shorthand for not having any estate planning in place.

James Miskell, Attorney at Law

Many accounts, like retirement and investment accounts, allow you to designate the beneficiaries of the account upon your death.  It’s a convenient way to distribute these accounts, and typically you make the selection when you open the account.