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Buford Estate Administration & Estate Planning Law Blog

Wills and other components of a Georgia estate plan

Many people in Georgia spend a great deal of time planning for the future. They often take college classes to advance their future career and create a plan to save for retirement. Equally as important as this planning is the creation of an estate plan. While some people think only of wills, there are several important documents that often comprise such a plan.

A will serves many important purposes. It allows a person to express their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets, including who will be in charge of overseeing that distribution. However, some people also utilize a revocable living trust, which sometimes provides even greater flexibility and prevents a costly and public probate process.

Updating an estate plan eases estate administration and probate

Many people in Georgia work their whole lives in order to provide for their families and themselves during their retirement. As a result, some people must then make important decisions regarding the distribution of their assets following their death. However, even those people who have created detailed estate plans need to revisit the plan in order to reduce complications during the estate administration and probate process.

As most people are aware, life changes in unexpected ways. As a result, some estate planning professionals recommend that documents are reviewed every three years. Doing so ensures that they continue to reflect a person's wishes. Additionally, major life events, such as a death, birth or marriage, may also prompt a review.

Wills help Georgia estates of all sizes

Most people in Georgia and other areas of the country have seen a dramatic portrayal of a will being read on a television show or movie. Even though it is rarely the case that a rich relative leaves an unexpected inheritance to a family member, wills do play an important -- if less dramatic than in fictional portrayals -- role in the estate administration and probate process. Despite knowing the importance of such documents, many people feel that because their estate is small, they do not need to go through the estate planning process.

However, that belief is a misconception. Even people who do not have a large estate likely has at least one asset that they want to leave to a family member or friend. With no will in place, the asset will be divided according to state law.

Using trusts to protect a beloved pet

The vast majority of people in Georgia worry about their family, especially about a time in which they may be unable to provide care. As a result, many people go through the estate planning process to ensure that their family members are provided for when they are no longer around to do so themselves. Because many people consider their pets to be parts of their family, some take measures, including the creation of trusts, to help protect their furry family members.

A recent survey reveals that approximately 85 million families in the United States have a pet. Regardless of whether the pet is a turtle or a dog, owners are often concerned about what will become of them. Fortunately, there are options available.

Smoothing the process of estate administration and probate

Most people, if asked, would likely claim to recognize the importance of certain estate planning documents such as a will or trust. However, some couples, for example, who have many assets and accounts in joint accounts may not recognize the need. By taking certain steps in the present, people in Georgia can ease the estate administration and probate process for their beneficiaries in the future.

Even for couples or other family members who hold their assets jointly, a will is necessary to explain how the assets will be divided if one person survives the other. Additionally, wills are used to name guardians of minor children. Also, this document will explain what happens to any remaining assets if there is a trust that does not include all assets.

Estate administration and probate: Wife claims undue influence

As a person in Georgia ages and faces the prospect of his or her immortality, there is often a great deal of reflection regarding his or her legacy. Even when there are detailed plans in place regarding estate administration and probate, disputes can arise, resulting in litigation. Unfortunately, an estranged wife and the trustee of her husband's estate, a bank, are currently locked in such a conflict.

The conflict involves an estate valued at approximately $43 million. The creator of the estate, an 84-year-old man who died in Nov. 2016, met his current wife just months after his first wife passed away in 2002. Seven months later, they married. He dismissed any objections his friends had over his fast marriage to a woman 20 years younger than him.

Trusts could have benefited the estate of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Regardless of the size of their estate, most people in Georgia want to ensure that it is divided according to their wishes. One way to ensure that this happens, while protecting the overall value of the estate, is through the creation of trusts. Some professionals argue that the case of Philip Seymour Hoffman is an example of the potential pitfalls of leaving estate distribution to a will alone.

Reports indicate that Hoffman did not want his three children to be "trust fund kids." As a result, he used a will to leave his entire estate to his girlfriend, the mother of his children. The expectation was that she would ensure that the children were provided for.

The importance of creating wills in Georgia

There are many important documents that most people in Georgia would claim that they require. These documents may include birth certificates and the deeds to their houses, for examples. However, many professional argue that wills are equally important.

Despite the importance of a will, some reports indicate that over a majority of people in the United States have not created one. Without a will, the state will ultimately be left to make many determinations without the input of the person. Not only will the state decide how assets will be divided, it will also be left to make custody determinations if there are minor children. In some cases, a person's assets could ultimately end up going to the state if there is no will in place.

Estate administration and probate: Easing the process for family

Most people in Georgia recognize the importance of the estate planning process. However, in the hustle of life, it is easy to put the task off for another day. Even once a plan is created, it likely needs to be updated periodically to ensure that changing laws and goals are addressed. Working with an experienced professional can often help people ensure that the estate administration and probate process is as smooth as possible for surviving loved ones.

Additionally, there are certain steps that people can take to help ensure that their wishes are reflected in their plan and can be met following their death. First, understanding the overall state of an estate can help with planning. Taking an accurate look at the value of the estate can ensure that adequate plans are made in regard to the administration of the estate.

Easing estate administration and probate with a digital plan

There is likely a large number of people in Georgia who pay their bills and manage other types of accounts electronically. This option has several benefits, including helping to reduce paperwork in a person's house, save money and help the environment. However, it can be troublesome during the estate administration and probate process if estate administrators or trustees are not aware of the existence of certain assets and debts and are unable to access them.

While more states are enacting laws that address how trustees and others can access digital assets and obtain passwords, many states still do not. Fortunately, including specific directions regarding digital accounts as part of an estate plan can significantly help those trusted with overseeing a person's estate. Relatively simple actions can significantly ease this process.

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Phone: 678-288-2010
Fax: 678-559-0777
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