Georgia fans of renowned singer Aretha Franklin may be giving new thought to estate planning after the news that the 76-year-old star passed away without a will. She died in August after a long fight against pancreatic cancer, but it was discovered that she had never made a will. Her niece has filed with the probate court to be recognized as executor of the estate, and her four sons have also registered as interested parties before the court. However, because she did not have a will or other estate documents in place, her estate could take longer to process and come at a higher cost to her heirs.
When people in Georgia consider their plans for passing on their property in the future, they may frequently think about assets like real estate, bank accounts and investment funds. However, the developing interest in cryptocurrency highlights other types of digital assets that can require special attention during estate planning. People need to be able to pass on their cryptocurrency assets to their beneficiaries, but without a traditional bank structure, it can be easy for these major assets to be lost or abandoned rather than properly transferred.
Georgia residents can include trusts in their estate plans to ensure that assets are distributed in a certain way. With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it is important that individuals who do use trusts are aware of how the trusts can be impacted.
Georgia residents who are thinking about the future may find that their estate plans are affected by the increased transfer tax exemption brought into existence by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. While the transfer tax exemption was doubled to $11.18 million per person or $22.36 million per married couple under the law, it has a built-in sunset clause in 2025. If additional legislation is not passed, the exemption will return to its 2017 levels -- roughly half the new exemption amounts. This means that people with substantial estates valued at over $5.6 million may wish to take action to preserve the larger exemption before its expiration in 2025.
As you decide where you want your money to go when you pass on, you may be considering beneficiaries outside the family. Perhaps you have few relatives left or that you are close to. Or maybe you have special people in your life that you want to thank for their service (such as a caregiver) or that you want to care for (such as someone you mentor).
Georgia parents who are setting up trusts to manage the distribution of inheritances to their children often have valid reasons for controlling the flow of money. Whether a will creates a testamentary trust or a benefactor establishes a lifetime irrevocable trust, the terms governing distributions fall into the categories of discretionary, mandatory or event-driven. Mandatory distributions or those triggered by events like marriage or graduation can be hardwired into the terms of a trust. Such terms exert specific control, but benefactors have the option of building in flexibility with discretionary terms.