Cumming Georgia Legal Blog

Housing market is finally looking up for buyers

In recent years, sellers have generally had the upper hand in the housing market in Georgia and many other parts of the country. However, 2019 is shaping up to be a year in which buyers may be gaining back some leverage. According to Redfin, only 13 percent of homes had multiple offers made on them in January.

According to an economist from the National Association of Realtors, mortgage interest rates are likely to stay under 5 percent for much of 2019. Lower interest rates may enable buyers to save hundreds compared to if they had purchased a home in 2018 where rates peaked at over 5 percent. As the housing market eases, buyers may have more choice than they have had in recent years.

Would you like to donate part of your estate to charity?

If you would like to leave a gift for a good cause in your estate, it can be difficult to know where to start. Certain methods of giving have tax benefits and some might require complicated steps for an estate executor. However, with careful planning you can make your gift a reality.

Why all adults need an estate plan

More than half of all adults lack an estate plan, according to the AARP. Some people in Georgia may think they do not need a plan because they have few assets or no family. However, one function of an estate plan is appointing agents to handle any legal or financial matters in case incapacitation becomes an issue. This could be important for people at all income levels.

Another vital estate planning document is a living will, which can outline a person's wishes for end-of-life health care. It's also important to consider powers of attorney, which can appoint agents to make financial and health care decisions if the grantor is not able.

Everyone needs an estate plan

There is a common misperception among many that estate planning is a sophisticated process that wealthy people use to make sure their surviving spouse, children, and future generations will be taken care of. And while it is certainly true that the larger and more complex an estate is, the greater potential benefit can be derived from careful and prudent planning, it is also true that every Georgia resident should explore the various estate planning tools to understand how they can work for the individual's specific needs.

The first issue to consider is what happens if a person does nothing concerning estate planning and dies intestate. Legal experts can explain that each state has laws that provide for a distribution of the assets of a person who dies without a will or trust. These laws do not consider what the deceased may have wanted. For example, if a person with no spouse or children were to die intestate, his or her estate would go to some distant relative rather than the close friend or charity the deceased may have preferred.

Common issues encountered during a home purchase

Georgia residents who are about to close on a home purchase shouldn't feel comfortable until the transaction is official. This is because there are many issues that could arise before that happens. For instance, the bank might only agree to lend up to the home's appraised value. In some cases, this can be less than what the seller wants for the property. The bank may also refuse to pay for a home if there are problems with a mortgage application.

For example, a lender may think that a buyer has attempted to commit fraud or has made other significant errors. Even if the lender is willing to fund a home purchase, there may be other problems that can prevent a closing from taking place. If an inspection reveals major issues, the sale may be canceled. Pest infestations, cracks in the foundation and electrical problems are common problems an inspection may reveal.

What to consider when talking with family about money

Georgia residents can likely benefit from sitting down with their families and discussing various estate plan topics. One of those topics may be related to how a parent intends to transfer his or her assets. However, broaching this topic may be difficult as many older Americans grew up in a time when discussing money was taboo. In fact, only 21 percent of parents polled by Ameriprise said that their children know how much they will receive.

In many cases, adult children don't feel like it is proper to discuss money with their parents. However, not having an estate planning conversation could result in family infighting or conflict between siblings. Generally speaking, this tends to occur after a parent has passed on. The chances of family conflict could increase if a person has children from multiple marriages or a family is otherwise blended to some degree.

Life insurance proceeds can cover final expenses

According to recent research, 42 percent of the baby boomer generation doesn't have any kind of estate plan in place, despite the fact that the youngest boomers turn 55 in 2019. Among those who do have plans in Georgia and across the country, many have not updated them for years. Baby boomers have more wealth, approximately $30 trillion, than any other generation in the history of the United States. Passing that wealth on to the right people when they die might require more planning than other generations have needed.

Life insurance policies are a good option for boomers whose heirs may need capital right away to take care of final expenses. Insurers can typically provide policies designed to cover funeral expenses, outstanding debts and medical bills. Life insurance proceeds can also go toward the payment of probate and estate administration expenses. Distributing assets and closing an estate can include fees for accountants, appraisers, attorneys and an executor. There may also be court costs and other expenses associated with probate. Those with larger estates can expect probate to cost more.

Passing along the gift of estate planning to millennials

Many baby boomers in Georgia have diligently worked hard to build their portfolios and amass a sizeable nest egg. Understandably, many of these same individuals have a desire to manage their family legacies. One study related to this topic found that nearly 70 percent of adults over 50 want to use their accumulated assets to invest in their children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, even the most well-organized baby boomers can't control the actions their millennial beneficiaries take or don't take.

Many Gen Xers and millennials simply don't have estate planning high on their list of priorities. Some boomers' children may be overwhelmed with debt themselves, or they might purposely resist making the effort to plan ahead because they feel like they are being pressured to do so. One possible solution is for future-minded boomers to give the gift of estate planning to their kids or grandkids. Some parents prefer to approach the subject when their children have kids of their own while others opt to use family events like the death of a loved one to bring up the subject.

Can a landlord terminate a lease at end of term?

When you reach the end of your lease, a landlord can terminate the lease without reason and has no obligation to renew your release. While your landlord will usually give you a 30-day notice before the end of the lease, it’s up to the tenant to vacate the property or make a lease extension agreement.

Rental and lease agreements are governed by state and local laws, but generally a landlord should not accept rent or agree to extend the lease if they want to negotiate a new lease or find a new renter.

Death of superhero creator raises planning questions

People in Georgia who are fans of the Marvel superhero universe might think about their own estate plans following the death of Stan Lee, who was a publisher and chairman of Marvel Comics. He created the iconic characters of Spiderman, Captain America and the X-Men and amassed significant wealth over the course of his illustrious career. While it is not yet publicly known whether he left a will, Lee's passing raises estate planning questions that his fans would do well to answer themselves.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, in February 2018, Lee executed a document claiming that his 68-year-old daughter screamed and yelled at him, befriended three men to take advantage of him and spent money frivolously. After the document was executed and notarized, Lee took the claims back. Issues with family members can often be avoided with timely discussions, and even those who are not wealthy can benefit from estate planning and preparation.

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Boling Rice LLC
207 Pirkle Ferry Road
Cumming, GA 30040

Phone: 770-887-3162
Fax: 770-844-6602
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