Estate planning is often viewed as something only the rich or elderly need to worry about. However, Deborah Stewart from Stewart Law Practice reveals that this could not be further from the truth, and everyone should consider estate planning to ensure that their wishes are met after their passing. She shares, “It’s really not dependent upon your status in terms of social or economic wealth, or how much you happen to have in terms of your personal property. If you have a bank account with even $50 in it, then you are a good candidate for estate planning.”
Deborah has been practicing law since 2010. She is an estate planning, probate, and elder care law attorney assisting clients with estate needs such as wills and trusts, as well as long term care planning. She focuses her time on transactional matters designed to provide her clients with the necessary tools to keep them out of the court system, but she has successfully litigated both business and probate matters.
Deborah brings a unique perspective to the world of estate planning, probate, and elder law, combining her experiences as a caregiver with her background in banking and financial services. She always wanted to be an attorney, even citing that as her goal in her high school yearbook. Deborah’s path to this career was not direct though, as she began her professional career in banking and financial services—even working in the trust department with a large bank—before returning to law school. As a caregiver herself in some form over the last ten years, first for her grandmother and now for her mother, Deborah had a natural segue into estate planning and elder law. This blend of personal and professional experience enables her to provide valuable insights into estate planning by leaning into her wealth of expertise and experience, making it understandable and accessible to clients regardless of their financial situation.
One common misconception surrounding wills and trusts is that estate planning is not just about the size of your estate, but about ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Whether you have $50 or $50 million, having a concrete plan in place is crucial. Without a plan, the state will decide how your assets are distributed, which may not align with your wishes.
Often estate planning is seen as a luxury or is an afterthought instead of an essential part of securing your financial future. The truth is that the sooner you start planning, the better your chances of having your wishes honored. Deborah emphasizes the importance of acting now to safeguard your legacy. She says, “Even if you’re in your early 20s or late teens, it’s a good time to start planning if you have any assets whatsoever.” Waiting until it's too late could result in your assets being distributed in a way that you did not intend. By planning early, you can avoid potential disputes and ensure your wishes are met. Deborah says, “It is never too early or too late,” and also encourages older clients to make sure they are reviewing estate planning and long term care needs.
Deborah also emphasizes the importance of seeking legal advice when moving to a different state. Estate planning documents prepared in one state may not necessarily be compliant with the laws of another state. Therefore, it's crucial to seek out an estate planning attorney in your new state to ensure your documents are still valid.
Deborah has a passion for estate planning and its impact on her community. When she is not in the office, she is spending time with her husband and two adult children. She is also an alumnus of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and involved with the Jack & Jill of America, Inc. organization, as well as active in the Black Women Attorneys Association and her church, Zion Missionary Baptist Church. Deborah and her family have been residents of Milton for over twenty years, and she is very active and invested in this community where her children have grown up.
Estate planning is an essential part of financial planning, regardless of your wealth or age. It's about safeguarding your legacy and ensuring your wishes are met after your passing. Don't wait until it's too late to start planning. Seek professional advice and secure your financial future today.
Stewart Law Practice is located in the Windward Parkway area in Alpharetta. For more information visit stewartlawpractice.com or call (678) 630-1053.
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