People in Georgia may be wondering about the best way to handle their charitable giving through their estate planning after the changes to federal estate taxes implemented following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Historically, bequests to charities have been exempt from federal estate taxes, helping these philanthropic gifts to be even more appealing to donors whose heirs faced tax burdens on the remainder of their estate. As part of the changes to tax law, however, the individual exemption to estate taxes has doubled, from $5.49 million per person to $11.18 million.
Estate planning can be a difficult task for many people in Georgia; as it involves dealing with complicated family issues and considering death, many people are happy to draw up the necessary documents and then file them away for the future, content that their family will be properly taken care of after their passing. However, due to changing laws as well as life changes, estate planning documents like wills and trusts can rapidly become outdated.
Just as it is important to plan for retirement, it is possibly even more important that people in the Georgia area carefully plan for the manner in which their estates will be handled upon their death. While there is no question that provisions should be made for minor children to ensure that someone is appointed to administer the estate to take care of them, all too often adult children are entrusted with more than they are capable of handling responsibly.
A living trust can be a powerful tool in estate planning for people in Georgia. With this legal tool, assets skip probate and go directly to beneficiaries. Unlike a will, a living trust is also private. Furthermore, it does not require the creator to give up ownership of assets. The creator simply acts as trustee. If the creator becomes incapacitated, a successor trustee can manage the assets on the creator's behalf.
For business owners in Georgia and across the United States, estate planning is particularly important. While wills and trusts are frequently considered in people's personal lives, in many cases, businesses do not receive the estate planning attention that they need to thrive after a principal's passing. Business estate planning can help to reduce estate taxes, deal with a sole proprietorship and transfer a business through a buy-sell agreement.