We Help Families
Plan For & Protect
Their Legacies

Estate Planning to Protect Your Children

Thompson Mungo Firm May 1, 2024

Whether your kids are in high school or college, now is the best time to encourage them to have an estate plan for themselves. Estate planning is not just about the transference of inheritance to your loved ones but also involves looking after and protecting the people you care about and the things that are precious to you. 

What do you need to know to protect your children?

A. Minors who are at least 14 years of age in the state of Georgia can have a last will and testament to identify the beneficiaries of their estate.

Creating a will for kids or young adults can give them a better start in life by getting them set with money for college or other future endeavors. Your children are not getting younger. As they age, they mature and accumulate knowledge. They are more aware of their surroundings and gain more substantial authority and control over themselves and their decisions in life. As a parent, you must let your kids know about creating an estate plan to protect them. It's the best way to protect your children's interests. Guide, plan, and help your children in their protection and long-term future. 

Here are the Five Requirements for a valid Georgia Will (Georgia Code Title 53) to start your estate plan.

1. The testator or the person writing the Will must be 14 years of age or older

Every person 14 years of age or older may create a Will unless they are suffering from a legal incapacity resulting from a lack of capacity or a lack of complete liberty of action.

2. The person writing the Will is competent to do so.

The person creating the Will must have the testamentary capacity or have a "decided and rational desire to create the will" and transfer his or her property. The testator must also be able to "freely and voluntarily" execute the Will, which means he or she is not being persuaded or creating the Will under coercion or misrepresentation.

3. The Will is written

The Will must be handwritten or typed only. Recorded video and audio wills are not valid in Georgia. 

4. The Will is signed by the testator

The testator must sign the Will to authenticate the document. The testator may ask someone to sign the Will on his or her behalf if he or she is physically unable. The representative must sign the Will with the testator's full permission and in his or her presence.

5. Two witnesses must sign the Will

The Will must be signed by two eligible witnesses at least 14 years old or older. The witnesses will sign the Will in the presence of the testator. Wills without witnesses' signatures are not valid.

B. Yung adults at least 18 years of age need incapacity documents in place if they become incapacitated. 

Under the law, children are considered an adult at the age of 18. They are now responsible for making decisions regarding their medical, finances, schooling, and other major milestones of their lives. Parents lose the right to make decisions for them. Parents have a great responsibility to guide them in working on their estate planning checklists in case of incapacity. Estate planning is about more than just what happens when you die. It is also about expressing and clarifying your wishes if you become incapacitated.

Here are four documents that every young adult should have for estate planning in events of incapacity. 

Without these documents, parents will have to apply to be appointed as their guardian and/or conservator. This guardianship process is time-consuming, emotionally exhausting and costly, often costing a thousand of dollars.

  1. Power of Attorney. A power of attorney (POA)is a legal document that gives legal Authorization to the person appointed to handle and make decisions about your property, medical care, and financial affairs if you become incapacitated. A power of attorney will remain in effect after you become incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself. The person you appoint to take care of such matters must be trustworthy and capable of managing your assets. 

             2 Types of Power of Attorney

i. Durable or Financial Power of Attorney

If you become disabled, you can manage your finances with the help of a durable power of attorney. With this option, you can appoint someone as your representative to make decisions and handle your financial and personal affairs on your behalf based on the privileges you specify or set for your power of attorney.

ii. Health Care Power of Attorney 

The Health Care Power of Attorney includes the following:

  • Advanced Health Care Directives. This legal document allows you to appoint a person to make medical decisions on your behalf. Sometimes you get ill to the point that you cannot make decisions for your health. With this legal document, you can give instructions on how you want to be treated. Your representative will then ensure that your wishes are followed by the hospital, doctors, and other healthcare providers. Your representative will also decide how your requests will be applied if your medical state deteriorates. Your Healthcare POA can also be the person you appointed in your financial POA.

  •  Living Will

A living will is a legal directive that specifies what decisions you want to be made or outlines the actions you would like your loved ones to take regarding health care and end-of-life issues. Health care directives give detailed information about your preferences for artificial life support, resuscitation, or tube feeding in the event of terminal illness, irreversible coma, or persistent vegetative state. 

3. Last Will and Testament.

The Last Will and Testament is the legal document that states how your property will be distributed at death. This document will ensure that your wishes for your estate are carried out.

4. HIPAA Authorization

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Authorization HIPAA Authorization is a document that permits your doctors to legally disclose health care information and provide medical records to the person or people authorized. In case of an accident, terminal illness, or other emergencies, this document will allow your loved ones to be informed about your condition.

It's time to start thinking and deciding about estate planning. These are vital documents for the safety of you and your family in events of incapacity and death.

Don't procrastinate and risk the future for your loved ones. Find out how to make sure they're legally protected and financially secure. If you don't have the basic estate planning documents in place, it's time to get it done. The earlier you complete these estate planning documents, the less expensive it is to get them done and the easier.