Estate Attorney Atlanta FAQ Questions..

Q: What Happens If There’s No Will?

A: It happens all too often. Someone passes away without even a simple will. Which means your wishes may not be carried out. From custody of children to division of property, there are many decisions that you won’t be able to make.

Because the government makes the decisions.

If you pass without a will, the estate is split according to how the government decided was the best method years ago. Generally that means it goes to your spouse first, then to your children in equal proportions.
Standard rules will be applied to every situation.

You can be sure those rules won’t take into account what’s best for your children. The person who ends up with custody of them could be the one person you’d never want your kids to be with.

What about taxes? Those rules won’t do anything to minimize taxes on your estate.

Let’s not forget unique situations, like co-owning property. If three people own a house and one dies without a will, the other two have equal say. One can force a sale. Or they can fight over it. These situations can drag on for years.

It can even affect your funeral. If you don’t have a will that spells out your plans, your loved ones will have to make the arrangements. I’ve seen situations where families couldn’t even buy a tombstone because they couldn’t agree on the one they wanted.

You need a will, and an executor who will make these decisions based on your choices.

At The Law Offices of Shane Smith, we recommend that when you are in good health and making clear decisions, come in and discuss your situation with us to see what type of estate plan is appropriate for you.

You deserve to be comfortable knowing that when something happens to you, your wishes will be followed.

Q: Do All Attorneys Keep Copies of All the Legal Documents in an Estate Plan?

A: Would you believe the answer to this is no?

And it could be disastrous.

Let’s say you choose an attorney who doesn’t keep a copy of all the documents and something happens to you.
Even though your family knows you went to an estate planning attorney, if they can’t find the documents, they’re just not going to have a copy for you.

This would be just as bad as if you never had a will or did any estate planning. We think it’s inexcusable. But unfortunately it happens more often than you would think.

That’s just one of the reasons why The Law Offices of Shane Smith keeps an original copy of every document, so we can provide them if the family needs us to.

Q: How Important is Customer Service?

A: Think about your experience with an attorney or anyone else who’s providing you a service.

Are they good at returning your calls?

Does it take a long time for them to call you back?

Or do you have to keep calling?

I believe what happens during your planning and preparation period is an indication of what could happen down the road.

If your attorney is slow to return your call or won’t answer the phone now…..he may not be there for you or your spouse down the road when you desperately need help.

At The Law Offices of Shane smith, we’re as proud of our customer service as we are of the expert legal services we provide.

Think of it this way….when you’re early in the process, you haven’t paid your attorney yet.
They should be doing everything they can to make you want to use them.

If your customer experience isn’t very good now, when they’re trying to win you over and impress you, imagine how bad it will be later on.

Q: Why is it a Mistake to Choose a Sole Practitioner?

A: A lot of attorneys are in practice by themselves. Many of them are very good, and have clients who use them for a variety of needs.

There’s nothing wrong with that.

But when it comes to estate planning, it makes me nervous when people tell me they’ve seen a solo practitioner….someone they’ve used for years, and are comfortable with….so they went ahead and had that attorney prepare a will.

Here’s why that concerns me. Estate planning is a process that needs to evolve and change over the years. Your situation changes. So do your needs.

If you’re dealing with an attorney who’s the only one in the office…..what if something happens to him? Maybe he retires and closes up shop and moves out of state. His office is gone, along with any copy of your file or your estate documents that he prepared. When you or your family need them, it would be as if you never had a will drawn up in the first place.

At The Law Offices of Shane Smith, we have a number of attorneys in our firm. A number of them, like me, have lived and worked in this area for most of their lives.

We’re not going anywhere.

Q: Do You Do Elder Care Planning?

A: It amazes me that there are attorneys who only do wills, trusts and estates….and don’t do any part of elder care. Estate planning isn’t just for when you die. A big part of it is planning for the rest of your life, and being prepared for whatever comes along. For example, nursing homes.

I’ve heard too many horror stories about people who didn’t have a proper estate plan or waited until it was too late to try to put one together. They went into a nursing home and it cost them everything.

But there are ways to plan for this. To get the help you need without losing everything you’ve worked your whole life for. Your assets should be protected. Your spouse shouldn’t have to sell your house just so you can get the care you need.

If you choose an attorney who doesn’t do elder care or doesn’t do it well, it can leave your loved ones scrambling and struggling, at a time when all their attention should be focused on you. Imagine paying an attorney to do an estate plan, and having this important part left out.

At The Law Offices of Shane Smith, elder care is a critical part of our estate planning. We have extensive knowledge of all the relevant laws, both federal and state, and we’re continuously updating our training to prepare for changes in those laws.

Don’t let your needs cost you and your family everything.

Q: Why Should Business Owners Work With You?

A: We’re willing to help business owners with even what seem to be the most minute details of the business transition that will take place if they pass away. Specifically, we spend a large amount of time talking to business owners about what happens to the business if the main breadwinner dies.

We ask a lot of questions. Is the spouse involved in the business? Does it go to the children, and if so are they prepared? Is the business going to be sold? Is it going to a partner or someone else in the business, and if so, is a price already determined? Will the non-breadwinner spouse be paid while the deal goes through? And many, many more.

We spend a significant amount of time in this area. We make sure we’ve detailed a very specific business plan, and we make sure everything is in place for that plan to be implemented. Too many family-owned businesses have gone out of business because they didn’t have a plan. We make sure your business survives after you’re gone.

By the way, I got a first-hand look at just how important this is when I looked at this law firm, and worked on my own business transition plan.

I realized many attorneys just aren’t prepared for this area, and vowed my firm would devote whatever it takes to make sure we can help any business prepare a plan that’s right for them.