One of the jobs of an Atlanta Georgia trust lawyer is to help clients choose the person who will be responsible for a trust that has been set up. The trustee has several very important jobs, and things will go smoother if he or she is aware of these responsibilities up front. Here is some good information that should be shared with a trustee in order to administer the trust with as little difficulty as possible when the time comes.
One Reason “Trust” Is So Important in the Word “Trustee”
In order to ensure that the trust administration goes according to plan, the trustee should review the document that set it out in the first place. It makes sense to do this while the person creating the trust is still alive so that you can talk about the true intentions behind the trust. Both parties may choose to sit down with the Atlanta trust lawyer in order to talk through any confusing points. When it comes time to administer the trust, the trustee will have valuable insight on what was originally intended and how to bring those goals about.
Along those same lines, it is the trustee’s responsibility to make sure that he or she is acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries. If there is a question about how best to manage the assets, the attorney can be brought in for advice and to make sure that decisions being made are in line with Georgia state and federal laws. For this reason, it’s imperative to choose a trustee who not only has good business sense but who is also extremely trustworthy. He or she should understand that the trust is not for personal gain and be able to withstand temptation to use the trust for his or her own benefit.
Keeping Track of the Trust
The trustee’s main focus should be to manage the assets of the trust in the most effective way possible. This may mean investing money in smart ways and also includes distributing funds to beneficiaries when appropriate. One of the easiest things the trustee can do to keep track of funds is to open a checking account for the trust. Any money that comes in or goes out of the trust can go through this checking account, creating an easy-to-see method for tracking income and expenses.
As an added safeguard, the trustee should provide an annual accounting of the trust to the beneficiaries. This allows them to understand how the trust is being managed. It may also be appropriate to provide this information to your Atlanta GA trust lawyer or other legal entity. Keeping in regular contact with the beneficiaries ensures that they are benefitting appropriately from the funds and also develops a relationship of trust between the parties involved.
GeorgiaFamilyLaw : Worrall Law LLC is Your Family’s Lawyer for Life™. We help families protect the people they love and things things they care about with plans that will work when your family needs it the most. Call us today at 770-425-6060 to schedule your Georgia Family Legacy Planning Session ($750 value) at no charge.
Celebrities seem to have it all—fame and fortune. Unfortunately, some celebrities have a hard time planning for the division of their assets. They neglect to draft wills, fail to update them, or fail to make sure logistical details are handled correctly. A recent article highlights some high profile estate planning mistakes. It also explains how to avoid those mistakes.
The article provides examples of famous people who made mistakes that led to serious problems for their family members. For example:
- Jimi Hendrix. He died without a will. State law awarded his estate to his father, even though he was close to his brother. His brother received nothing.
- Florence “FloJo” Griffith Joyner. She wrote a will, but she did not tell anyone where it was. Her husband was unable to file it within the time period required by state law. This led to her husband and her mother going to court.
- Heath Ledger. He wrote a will, but he never updated it after the birth of his daughter. The will left everything to his parents and his sister.
- Michael Jackson. He created a trust, but he may have neglected to fully fund it. This led to a public fight between his family members.
Our Marietta, Georgia estate planning firm drafts and updates wills and estate plans for clients across the state of Georgia. Contact the Georgia estate planning attorneys at Georgia Family Law: Worrall Law LLC. Call us at 770.425.6060 or fill out an online contact form.
Wills and trust attorneys in Atlanta see a variety of situations both before and after our clients pass away. While family bickering and grief are certainly a darker aspect to what we do, there is another situation that often brings about difficulty. What happens to a pet when you pass away?
This isn’t something that every will and trust lawyer in Atlanta thinks to mention, but it is something worth considering. In an ideal world, a family member or good friend would willingly take in your pet and love it as his or her own. Unfortunately, that just isn’t always the case. Instead of relying on this best-case scenario, you may want to consider making some decisions ahead of time to ensure that your pet is cared for as you would prefer.
Not only can an attorney in Atlanta incorporate your pet into your will or trust, but if you wish, a special trust (a Pet Trust) can be set up. Things don’t necessarily need to be this elaborate, but it is something that many clients choose. Whether creating a trust or not, you will want to determine who will be your pet’s guardian should you die or become otherwise incapacitated.
A word to the wise: Make sure that the person or organization you name as guardian is aware of this and has agreed to the role!
Some humane societies and SPCAs are willing to become your pet’s guardian if you do not have an individual that is able to do so. It’s important to note, however, that you still need to make this arrangement official. Check out the web sites for (or call) animal organizations in Atlanta to see who offers such services.
For example, the SPCA’s of some states have a “Guardian Angel Future Care Program.” Pet owners can enroll in the program and supply important information about their pets, including health records and even information about his or her daily schedule, preferences, etc. The SPCA then works to match your pet with the best possible adoptive family.
They also offer some good advice when it comes to including your pet in your estate planning:
- Make sure the guardian you choose has the same values as you do.
- Microchip your pets and put IDs on their collars so they can be returned if they get lost.
- Leave only a reasonable amount of money for the care of a pet, as larger amounts are more likely to be contested and to cause difficulty for the person designated to manage the fund.
- Consider a situation where you and someone else have a reciprocal agreement. If you are killed or incapacitated, they will take your pets. If the other person is killed or incapacitated, you will take theirs.
- Have your estate planning lawyer include your wishes in the will and make them known to family members and the executor when the will is drafted.
If you would like more information about using estate planning tools such as wills and trusts to ensure your pets are protected if something happens to you, please contact our Atlanta wills and trusts attorney at 770.425.6060 to schedule a complimentary planning session with the mention of this article.
If you’re thinking about having a prenup drawn up before you tie the knot in Cobb County or elsewhere in metro Atlanta, you may want to find an attorney who focuses on estate planning, too. Perhaps surprisingly to some, a prenuptial agreement can be a key piece of estate planning documentation. Many couples in metro Atlanta see the importance of creating a binding prenuptial agreement in order to protect their assets and plan for their future.
Today, blended families are far from unusual. During the newlywed planning phase, the couple needs to consider what happens to “yours, mine, and ours” in the event of divorce, as well as death. You may each have certain items or financial support that you want designated specifically for your own biological children, and a prenup in combination with estate planning documents is used to make these wishes known.
This is also the case when older couples marry. They may each have their own grown children and grandchildren that they wish to provide for. Without the proper agreements, a surviving spouse will often become default heir to the other’s estate, allowing the spouse to do with it whatever he or she sees fit. It could be perfectly legal for the deceased spouse’s children to inherit nothing.
Working with an Atlanta area prenup lawyer before exchanging vows can help to clarify each partner’s wishes, as well as to provide legal documentation. Simply discussing your preferences is not enough, either. To be binding, the prenuptial agreement must be in writing, and both spouses must sign it. In fact, it is necessary for each spouse to take the appropriate amount of time to read the entire document to ensure that he or she agrees with it and is not being pressured into signing something.
A prenup that seems grossly unfair to one spouse or the other may not hold up in court, so this step is pretty important. Some states even require that each party is advised by his or her own prenup lawyer rather than sharing the same attorney. If one spouse omits information or outright lies about it in the prenup, that can also render it invalid.
While creating a prenuptial agreement may not be the most romantic way to go into a marriage, it can be important from an estate planning point of view. It allows you to plan for the future and to designate your own heirs. Some people who skipped this step are now coming to prenup lawyers to request “post-nuptial agreements.” These documents work quite similarly to the prenuptial agreement but are simply done after the wedding is over. It’s best not to wait, but if you have to, a metro Atlanta prenup lawyer can still get the ball rolling for you.
If you’re ready to get started with this process, we invite you to call our office at 770.425.6060 and ask to schedule a free Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session ( a $750 value).