New probate court papers have determined that the estate of Carrie Fisher, who passed away in 2016, is worth more than $6 million. Fisher is known throughout Georgia and many parts of the world after appearing as Princess Leia in several Star Wars films. The estate executor for the actress requested a final value for the state in order to begin final distribution of the assets.
Movie buffs in Georgia may have heard about the passing of John Singleton. He had an estate that was valued at about $35 million, but it is unclear how the assets will be divided. This is because his will had not been updated since 1993. At that time, only one of his seven children were born.
When a Georgia resident creates an estate plan, they might overlook the need to ensure access to online accounts. Complicating this is the fact that writing down passwords is not secure. This may have larger implications if the estate owner runs a business. In December, the sudden death of a cryptocurrency exchange owner meant that clients lost access to $190 million in investments when his password could not be located. It's unclear whether they will ever be able to access it.
Georgia residents who have been named estate executors have a lot of work ahead of them. For instance, they must file income tax returns, get in touch with beneficiaries and take steps to secure assets. It is important to point out that executors have a fiduciary responsibility toward the beneficiaries. Therefore, they should not be ignored or otherwise kept in the dark at any point while the estate is being settled.
When it comes to estate planning, many people think about who should receive bigger assets like real estate, stocks and business interests. Personal property is often forgotten when dividing an estate. However, residents in Georgia and other states who own art, antiques and collectibles may need to make sure these items are included in an estate plan.
Estate planning can be relatively simple or complex depending on a person's needs. At a minimum, Georgia residents will want to have a will. Without a will, the state will determine who gets guardianship of a child or who gets a decedent's assets. This may result in people from who the decedent was estranged receiving all or a portion of the estate.
In some cases, after the death of a person in Georgia, there could be a legal challenge to the person's will. This is known as probate litigation. However, as part of that litigation, it might be necessary to determine who is an "interested party." This includes the people named in the last will and testament, but others may be interested parties as well.
Some estate planners in Georgia might be concerned about the probate process. In general, all estates must pass through probate unless there are provisions in place to transfer assets to heirs in other ways.
People with large estates in Georgia might want to investigate the potential usefulness of life insurance within an estate planning strategy. A life insurance policy could provide cash soon after the benefactor's passing to assist heirs with near-term estate administration expenses. Even heirs of a wealthy individual might not have the resources on hand to meet immediate expenses like funeral costs, probate court fees and estate taxes. Life insurance relieves heirs of this burden and prevents the rushed sale of valuable assets at a discount.
Some people in Georgia may have known couples who were married for a long time and died within days or weeks of one another. Sometimes called "broken-heart syndrome," this can actually cause problems for their estate plans if they have not prepared for the possibility.