Your Last Will and Testament (also referred to simply as a ‘Will’) allows you to do several things. First, you can specify how you want your estate to be distributed upon your death. You can divide your estate among a number of people equally, give everything to one person or a charity, or whatever else you choose to do with your property.
Your Will also appoints someone as the executor of your estate. This is the person who will be in charge of gathering all of your assets and debts together, notifying creditors of your death, and distributing your assets according to your instructions in the Will.
If you do not currently have a Will or Living Trust, having a Will prepared is better than having nothing. Failure to have even a Simple Will can result in massive confusion.
Your heirs will not have any direction and can become embroiled in arguments and disputes that can make a difficult time even worse.
By having a Will, you provide your family and heirs with some guidance regarding your wishes and how to proceed with settling your affairs. The disadvantage of having a Will only can be seen when comparing a Will to a Living Trust.
If you pass away without a Will or Living Trust, your estate goes through the probate process before your heirs receive your estate. Having a Will does not prevent your estate from going through the probate process. Establishing a Living trust and transferring your assets into the Trust during your lifetime will allow those assets to be transferred to your heirs without probate.
Revocable Trusts allow you to select the assets you want to place in the trust and it protects the assets in the trust from your surviving spouse, if you wish to disinherit him or her.
One of the reasons a revocable living trust is so popular is that assets in the trust do not have to go through Probate. If you can place most or all of your assets in trust, no probate proceeding will be necessary at all, saving the cost of an executor and attorney, as well as avoiding the long wait for the probate process to conclude. A revocable living trust Georgia allows your assets to be distributed immediately upon your death if you wish.
If you die without a Will or Trust, your assets are distributed by Georgia intestacy statutes which determine which relatives get what. An additional benefit is privacy. When a Will is probated, it goes through a court proceeding and becomes public record. Trusts are completely private and do not need a court to enact them. The terms of the Trust, beneficiaries, and assets are not public record. Trusts are also more difficult to contest than Wills.
Creating a living trust in Georgia protects not only your assets, but you personally. If you ever become mentally incapacitated, the trust already provides for management of your assets and use of them for your benefit. No conservatorship proceeding may be necessary if the trust has been funded sufficiently.
An Irrevocable Trust is simply a trust with terms and provisions that cannot be changed by the grantor. This is distinguished from a Revocable Trust, which is commonly used in estate planning and allows the grantor to change the terms of the trust and/or take the property back at any time.
Using an irrevocable trust allows you to achieve a number of significant benefits, including minimizing estate tax, protecting assets from creditors, and providing for family members who are minors, financially irresponsible, or who have special needs.
In order to have a legal document that expresses your wishes for the health care you want to receive at the end of your life, you should complete a Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care.
In completing the Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, you will do two things:
1) Legally appoint someone as your Health Care Agent to make health care decisions for you when you cannot or do not want to speak for yourself, and
2) Formally state your preferences for the medical treatments you do or do not want to receive.
If you choose not to complete a Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care, there may be restrictions on the health care decisions that relatives or friends can make for you.
A Financial Power of Attorney allows you to name one or more persons to handle our financial or business affairs for you just as we would if you were handling them yourself.
Depending on your individual circumstances, you can give another person or persons all of your authority (power) or some of your authority (powers) to act on your behalf.
This document, however, does not give someone the power to make medical decisions or health care decisions for you.
Normally, our Power of Attorney documents grant your Agent the power to handle your business or financial affairs upon you becoming incapacitated, which must be confirmed by 2 physicians. Otherwise, you maintain the control of your affairs until that time.
The agent’s Power of Attorney is terminated upon death or your written revocation.
Contact us today at (770) 882-7390 for additional Estate Planning information or to schedule your consultation today!