A trust is a contract between the Grantor (the person who creates the trust), the Trustee (one who controls the trust) and the beneficiaries (those entitled to benefit from the Trust). You, as Grantor, determine how the Trust will be operated by the Trustee and who benefits, how and when. You can create a Trust that permits you to be Trustee and give yourself the right to receive full benefits from it.
This type of trust is typically referred to as a Revocable Living Trust and is often used as a substitute to your Will. It permits you to keep total control and access to all your assets during your lifetime, and provides for the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries at your death. We often refer to a Revocable Living Trust as your “Book of Instructions.” A well established advantage to Revocable Living Trusts is the avoidance of probate, which is required if you use a Will to distribute your assets after death.
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 in 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.
However, while a Revocable Living Trust has many advantages, it is important to remember that it does not protect your assets from a nursing home, lawsuits, divorce, bankruptcy or other creditors.
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