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Buford Estate Administration & Estate Planning Law Blog

Excluding a family member in wills

When in the process of estate planning in Georgia, a person is often left making difficult decisions. For some, it is not simply a matter of evenly splitting assets between children. Often, there are complex issues at play that could ultimately impact the creation of wills.

Issues surrounding the will of David Cassidy exemplify some of these complexities. Following his death, it was made public that he had deliberately excluded his biological daughter from his will. When he created the will in 2004, he clearly stated that any references to his children include his son only and do not include his daughter or any of her descendants.

The many benefits of trusts in Georgia

People in Georgia often put a great deal of thought into their legacy and how their assets will be distributed upon their death. Most people are aware of the importance of having a last will and testament. However, there are other estate planning tools, including trusts, that can help ensure that a person's assets go to the beneficiary of their choosing rather than to taxes.

Trusts come with a variety of different benefits. For one, a trust can help avoid the public process of probate as well as prevent money from going to probate fees, which can be anywhere from 3 to 8 percent of the estate. Additionally, an estate could be subject to estate and income tax. If the person has assets in different states, the estate could be subject to taxes in each state. Additionally, without a trust, the estate could be subject to creditors and lawsuits, which could be especially problematic if the person worked in a field that tends to be litigious, such as a doctor.

Using trusts to protect an inheritance in Georgia

Many parents work hard to ensure that the needs of their children are met. Over the years, they could ultimately amass a significant amount of wealth -- assets that they want to pass on to their children upon their death. However, some parents in Georgia may be concerned about their child's spouse receiving part of an inheritance in a divorce. Fortunately, there are trusts and other options that can provide protection.

One option is to avoid listing an asset in the child's name in an estate plan in order to protect it during the process of dividing assets during a divorce. Instead, creating a dynasty trust can protect the asset. A dynasty trust is typically incorporated into a revocable living trust or will and essentially creates a barrier around the inheritance, protecting it from both divorce and creditors while ensuring that it remains in the family.

Effectively transfer assets to the next generation

An estate plan is a common way that people designate the division of their estate after their passing. However, estate taxes and government regulations may affect the inheritance your heirs receive.

There are a few methods that you may enact to protect the transfer of your assets for the sake of your children and generations to come. Check out the different ways you can effectively secure and transfer assets to the next generation.

Estate administration and probate: Anticipating challenges

Because people in Georgia want to ensure that their estates are distributed according to their wishes, they often put a great deal of thought into the creation of an estate plan. However, some potential beneficiaries are often unhappy with the contents of such a plan, causing complications with the estate administration and probate process. While it is not possible to prevent someone from challenging a plan, there are certain safeguards that can be put in place to prevent a challenge from being successful.

In certain circumstances, some people may anticipate a family member being upset about the contents of a will or other estate planning documents. Fortunately, using clear and concise language in documents created by experienced professionals can prevent confusion. Additionally, if a person is being deliberately disinherited, acknowledging that in a plan -- and, perhaps, even providing a rationale for that action -- can help prevent a credible argument that a person was inadvertently omitted.

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.

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