Many Georgia adults may lack estate plans, and many of those who do have them could improve them. It is not uncommon for people to have no estate plan or to have an insufficient estate plan whether they are very wealthy or have few assets. Incorporating charitable giving is one way an estate plan can be improved, particularly for wealthy individuals. A charitable remainder annuity trust can provide money for a loved one until their death and then pass what is left to the charity.
While electronic wills are not yet considered legally binding in Georgia, several other states have passed legislation that permits them, and Georgia could change its laws in the future. Many younger adults prefer e-wills because they are in line with other services they are able to access online. They seem easier and simpler than a process that involves meeting with an attorney in person. However, there are a number of potential drawbacks.
Georgia residents may have decided to take on the role of executor of a deceased loved one's estate, in which case they will need to know what sort of challenges they will face. First, an executor is in charge of identifying the estate's assets, paying off debts, filing tax returns and distributing the estate to the heirs and beneficiaries.
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.