People work hard all of their lives and accumulate a wide variety of assets over time. Naturally, people want to choose who will get their property after they die. However, a well thought out estate plan is needed to ensure that your property goes to the people you want it to go to. Estate plans vary considerably in complexity depending upon both the nature of the assets involved and your goals. Most people rely upon wills and trusts as the primary tools in their estate plan. Both wills and trusts have advantages and limitations. In Georgia, many simple estate plans consist of a will that works in conjunction with the proper titling of assets and coordination of beneficiary designations. Some will choose to also include a trust as part of their estate plan. It is important to get the help of a North Georgia estate planning lawyer to ensure that your will and/or trust are properly drafted and that the overall estate plan works cohesively.
A will is a written document that directs how you want your property to be distributed to your beneficiaries upon your death. One advantage of a simple will is that it is inexpensive to set up. Also, a will allows the testator (you) to appoint guardians for minor children. This can’t be done with a trust. A will also allows the testator to name a trusted person to serve as the executor of the estate. An executor’s job is to collect estate assets, pay final tax returns, pay debts of the estate in the correct priority and finally manage the distribution of the assets pursuant to the terms of the will. A will may also contain a trust inside of it called a testamentary trust. This type of trust does not come into existence until after you die and your will is probated. Property is not transferred into this type of trust during your lifetime. It is a simple way to provide for the possible necessity of a trust without the added expense of drafting a Revocable Living Trust (described below). The major disadvantage of a will is that it must go through the probate process which is an added expense. There are additional reasons one might consider a Revocable Living Trust, please call a North Georgia estate planning lawyer to discuss your options.
A trust allows a person to transfer ownership of designated property into the trust during his or her lifetime. The trust holds the property for the beneficiaries of the trust. Trusts can be either revocable or irrevocable. A revocable trust is commonly called a Revocable Living Trust. A Revocable Living Trust is a popular estate planning tool because it allows the grantor the flexibility to make changes to the trust as circumstances change during his lifetime. One advantage of a trust is that it is a private document and may not have to go through the probate court. However, trusts can be much more expensive to set up. Additionally, if all assets are not transferred out of the individual’s name into the name of the trust prior to death then a will must still be probated. If not structured properly you could end up paying for a trust but still having to go through probate. Contact a North Georgia estate planning lawyer for professional advice.
Meridith Bush is an experienced Atlanta estate planning attorney. She has been helping clients with estate planning since 2004. She understands the intricacies involved in creating an estate plan that is in compliance with Georgia law. Estate planning can be complicated and making mistakes can be costly. Don’t try to do this on your own. Call Meridith Bush LLC today for a confidential evaluation.