Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions about estate planning, Medicaid, or probate?

Browse our Frequently Asked Questions below to find clear, straightforward answers to your most pressing concerns. 

Estate Planning FAQ'S

Estate planning is like creating a master plan for your assets. That may include your home, bank accounts, investments, and personal possessions. The plan outlines what should happen to these when you’re no longer around or can’t make decisions. It’s like leaving a clear set of instructions for your loved ones – ensuring minimal stress and confusion. 

Ready to create your master plan? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to start.

Estate planning gives you control over your assets, even when you cannot manage them. It helps protect your hard-earned assets from costly long-term care or other unexpected situations. Think of it as creating a safety net for the future, where your wishes and your loved ones’ needs are secured.

Want to weave your safety net? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get started.

A will is like a roadmap for your assets after your journey ends. It directs who gets what – whether it’s your grandmother’s vintage clock or your favorite beach house. More importantly, if you have minor children, it’s where you name their guardian.

Need help with your roadmap? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get started.

Think of a trust as a treasure chest, safeguarding your precious assets. It can help protect your belongings from creditors, lawsuits, and even Medicaid recovery. Trusts can be especially useful if you’re concerned about long-term care costs depleting your assets.

Ready to secure your treasure chest? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to begin.

Funding your trust is the process of transferring your assets from you to your trust. To do this, you physically change the titles of your assets from your individual name (or joint names, if married) to the name of your trust. You will also change most beneficiary designations to your trust.

Ready to learn more? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to begin.

A durable power of attorney comes into play here. This document enables you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions for you – whether financial or medical – if you can’t. It’s like having a reliable co-pilot when you can’t steer the wheel.

Need help picking your co-pilot? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get started.

Absolutely! Certain estate planning tools, like specific types of trusts, can help safeguard your assets from being used up by long-term care costs. It’s like having a financial shield, guarding what you’ve worked hard for.

Want to forge your shield? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to begin.

Think of your estate plan like a garden – it needs regular tending. We recommend a review every 3-5 years, or whenever significant life events happen, like a marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or major financial change.

Need help tending your estate garden? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to schedule a review.

Probate is the official process of settling your estate after you’re gone. Estate planning can help simplify this process, or even avoid it altogether. It’s like a VIP pass for your assets to bypass the waiting line of probate.

Ready for your VIP pass? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to start.

An executor or trustee should be someone you trust implicitly. This person will carry out your wishes and manage your estate, so choose wisely. It’s like choosing a captain for your ship when you’re not onboard.

Need help choosing your captain? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to discuss.

While it’s possible, DIY estate planning can be risky. A small error can cause significant problems. An estate planning attorney can help ensure your plan is legally sound. It’s like having a professional guide while trekking in unfamiliar territory.

Ready for your guided trek? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to embark on the journey.

Elder Law & Medicaid FAQ'S

Elder Law is a specialized area of law that addresses issues affecting older adults. It includes estate planning, Medicaid planning, guardianship, retirement, and more. Imagine a law superhero specifically trained to protect older adults.

Want your own superhero? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get started.

An Elder Law attorney is like a guide through the complex maze of aging-related legal issues. They’re trained to help you make informed decisions, protecting your rights and your assets.

Need a guide? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to begin your journey.

Medicaid Planning is a crucial strategy for securing your financial future. It involves carefully arranging your financial resources to ensure you qualify for Medicaid – a critical lifeline that can cover long-term care costs while preserving your hard-earned assets.

Ready to craft your strategy? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to start planning.

Long-term care costs can be astronomical, quickly draining your hard-earned savings. Medicaid Planning ensures that if you need such care, you’re prepared. It’s like having an insurance policy for your financial health.

Want to secure your policy? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to begin.

While it may seem like a good idea, giving away (gifting) assets can lead to penalties. That can end up costing you thousands of dollars in lost benefits. It’s crucial to have a strategy in place to protect your assets without giving them away. Think of it as building a bridge; you want to get to the other side safely and legally.

Need help building your bridge? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to start.

The ‘five-year lookback’ rule is Medicaid’s way of preventing people from transferring assets to qualify for Medicaid. It’s like a time machine that allows Medicaid to look back five years to see if you’ve made any such transfers.

Have questions about the lookback rule? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get answers.

When applying for Medicaid, your primary residence is often considered an exempt asset. It’s like your personal sanctuary, typically safe from Medicaid’s reach. However, there are limits to this exemption, based on your state’s regulations and whether a spouse or dependent is living there.

Concerned about your home? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to discuss your options.

The spousal impoverishment rule is like a safety net, protecting the healthy spouse from losing all income and resources when the other spouse qualifies for Medicaid long-term care. It ensures that the healthy spouse can continue to live in dignity.

Have questions about the spousal impoverishment rule? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get answers.

Probate & Estate Administration FAQs

Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone passes away to settle their estate. It’s like a guided path that helps distribute a person’s assets according to their will, or Georgia state law if no will exists.

Have questions about the probate path? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get answers.

Not necessarily. Some assets, like jointly owned property or assets with a named beneficiary, bypass probate. Probate is also often avoided for small estates in Georgia, under specific conditions.

Wondering if an estate needs probate? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to discuss.

Yes, with diligent and strategic estate planning methods, such as creating trusts or designating beneficiaries, it’s possible to bypass probate. This approach allows for a more direct transition of your assets to your chosen beneficiaries.

Looking to create a smoother transition for your loved ones? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to begin planning.

Probate can sometimes feel like an uphill climb with unforeseen challenges. Here’s why some opt to bypass it:

Costs: Probate can lighten your wallet, with legal fees, executor costs, and other expenses paid out before your assets reach your heirs. Out-of-state property? That can trigger multiple probates, each with its own set of rules and costs. 

Time: Probate isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon, often months or years. During this time, assets can be frozen for inventory, requiring court or executor approval for any distribution or sale. If your family needs funds for living expenses, they may be out of luck. 

Privacy: Probate has no secrets. It’s a public process, meaning any “interested party” can see your assets, debts, beneficiaries, and their inheritance timeline. It can open the door for disgruntled heirs to contest your will and expose your family to uninvited solicitations.

Control: Probate is like an unwelcome chauffeur, determining the costs, duration, and public exposure of your estate’s journey.

Considering strategies to avoid the probate journey? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here for guidance.

If a person passes away without a will in Georgia, their estate is distributed according to state intestacy laws. It’s like having the state write your will for you, deciding who gets what.

Want to ensure your assets go where you want them to? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to start planning your will.

The personal representative (also called an executor), chosen in the will, acts like the estate’s conductor. They guide it through the probate process. Their duties include gathering assets, paying debts, and distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries.

Need help understanding the personal representative’s role? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to discuss.

If a personal representative is unable or unwilling to serve, or one isn’t named, the court will appoint someone. This is often a close family member. It’s like having a substitute teacher when the regular one isn’t available.

Concerned about who will manage your estate? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to explore your options.

The probate process begins with submitting the will to probate court. Then, the executor is appointed, assets are identified and valued, debts are paid, and remaining assets are distributed. It’s like a relay race, with each step handing off to the next.

Need help navigating the probate relay race? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get answers.

Probate duration can vary, depending on the estate’s complexity. Generally, it takes anywhere from a few months to over a year. It’s like a journey, and every journey is unique.

Wondering how long the probate journey might take? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to discuss.

Joint ownership might seem like a probate ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ card, but it often just postpones it. Yes, ownership can transfer without probate if one owner dies, but if both owners pass simultaneously or the second one dies without naming another, probate jumps back into the game.

Adding a co-owner also opens new risks: loss of control, legal liabilities, potential tax problems, and possible unintentional disinheritance. Plus, with certain assets like real estate, you might need all owners’ signatures to sell or refinance. That can complicate things if a co-owner becomes incapacitated.

Curious about the ins and outs of joint ownership? Call us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get started.

Now is the time.
Protect yourself and your loved ones.

At Hamilton Trust, Estate & Elder Law, we’re here to assist South Georgia families, seniors, and their loved ones in preparing for the future.

Whether you need to create or update your estate plan, prepare for long-term care, qualify for Medicaid to pay for a nursing home, or help settling a loved one’s estate, we’ve got you covered.

Contact us or attend one of our free workshops and take the first step toward securing your future and the well-being of your family.

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