By Steve Worrall, Marietta Wills and Trusts Lawyer
A living trust is a perfect document for protecting privacy, avoiding probate, and determining who can take care of your affairs while you’re incapacitated and after you’ve passed on. It’s often an essential element for estate plans in Marietta as it gives an extra layer of protection to estates and gives the trust maker, also known as the Grantor, added peace of mind that their interests will be protected and their wishes will be carried out. So before you visit a Marietta wills and trusts attorney to set up your living trust, there are some issues you should start thinking about in order to give yourself the best opportunity to achieve your estate planning goals.
- Pick the Goals You Want to Achieve with the Trust
Each person has different needs when it comes to estate planning, and there are many goals that a living trust can help you achieve. For instance, if you want to keep your financial and personal affairs private and avoid a long, drawn out probate proceeding, a living trust will ensure your wishes are met.
- Determine What Assets You Want Protected By the Trust
Once you’ve planned your goals, you will want to decide which assets you’d like to place in a trust. Many people will put their house in the trust since it is their most valuable asset and will likely put them over the threshold when determining whether their estate will go through a large or small probate process. In addition, you may want to consider which financial accounts should go into the trust (typically those held solely in your name) and which should stay out.
- Decide Who Will Act as Successor Trustee
A successor trustee will not only be responsible for the administration of the trust estate once you pass on, but may also be called on to handle your affairs if you become incapacitated, or possibly if you do not want the responsibility of handling your own affairs at a certain point. The successor trustee may also be in charge of managing any property or assets left to minors in your trust, so it is important that you choose someone with a keen financial acumen who you can trust to carry out your wishes.
- Choose Your Beneficiaries
It’s your decision as to whom you want to leave a financial legacy for in your living trust, and it’s something that you must think about very carefully. If you make a choice to omit a family member from your estate plan who would otherwise expect to receive an inheritance from you, it may be a good idea to leave behind an explanation of your wishes concerning the matter.
- Hire an Experienced Marietta Wills and Trusts Lawyer to Draft Your Trust
There are a lot of do-it-yourself programs and cheap alternatives available for creating a living trust, but unfortunately, these documents are often inadequate and will not hold up under probate court scrutiny. That’s why it’s important to research experienced wills and trusts attorneys in Marietta to draft your trust so you have peace of mind knowing that it’s done correctly and your wishes will be carried out.
If you have any questions about setting up a living trust, or if you’d like to have your existing living trust reviewed in order to make sure it is set up properly for your situation, please give our Marietta wills and trusts firm a call at 770.425.6060 to set up a FREE Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session (valued at $600 or more).
Most people are familiar with a basic Last Will and Testament, but very few people in Marietta know what a Pour-Over Will is.
Essentially, a Pour-Over Will is used in conjunction with a Trust, usually a Revocable Living Trust, and it directs that any assets you own outside of the trust at the time of your death should be placed into your trust and distributed according to trust guidelines.
Here’s an example of how this works. Say that at the time of your death you owned a piece of property that you forgot to title in the name of the trust you created with your Marietta will and trust lawyer. Because of this oversight, the asset would fall “outside” of your trust and would not receive the protections that you had hoped for when you created your estate plan in the first place. However, if you had a “Pour-Over Will,” even though you made an error, the asset would still get directed back into your trust anyway.
In this regard, the pour-over will acts as a safety net to make sure that all of your solely-owned assets will be distributed according to the terms of the trust after you pass away.
Marietta wills and trusts lawyers tell their clients that unlike a Last Will and Testament, one of the greatest advantages of using a Pour-Over Will is that it does not have to state how the estate assets will be distributed. Instead, it merely has to state that the assets should go into the trust. This is an important aspect of estate planning for anyone who is concerned about privacy and does not want their personal affairs made public through the probate court.
However, just like a Last Will and Testament, the Pour-Over Will is subject to probate proceedings in general. The length and complexity of the proceedings depends on the amount of assets that were held outside of the Revocable Living Trust. The trust will have to continue to exist for however long the estate is in probate, so Trustees should understand that their fiduciary responsibilities may extend for longer than they thought if any property is held outside the trust and must go through probate.
If you have any questions about the difference between a Last Will and Testament and a Pour-Over Will, or if you’d like to review your existing estate plan to make sure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes after you pass away, please contact our Marietta Wills and Trusts law firm at 770-425-6060 to set up a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session. These sessions are valued at $600, but you can get yours at no charge by mentioning you read our blog.
Many grandparents wish to leave a legacy behind for their grandchildren; however, they may run into some issues if those children are underage. A Cobb County Wills and Trust lawyer can help you determine what the best options are for leaving assets to underage beneficiaries, whether those assets are held in a Will or Trust, financial accounts, or as part of a life insurance benefit.
Underage Beneficiaries in a Will or Trust
Cobb County Will and Trust lawyers will always ask their clients if any of their beneficiaries are underage, or even if they would like to keep younger beneficiaries from accessing their full inheritance until they’ve reached a certain age, which is often 25. If the children are underage, an adult property guardian must be named since minors are not allowed to own property. If a significant amount of property is left to the minor, a trust should be set up to manage the property until the child comes of age. In fact, trusts can be used to ensure the minor only receives their full inheritance once they reach a certain age or milestone, such as graduating from college, while at the same time providing assets to make sure the child can achieve that milestone. A Marietta Wills and Trusts attorney can speak with you about leaving an inheritance to an underage child and will help you choose the best option for administering the distributions.
Underage Beneficiaries of Financial Accounts
Many people choose to make beneficiary designations directly on their financial accounts, such as savings accounts, annuities, and retirement plans. Cobb County Wills and Trusts attorneys urge their clients to carefully examine the details surrounding these beneficiary designations, as minor beneficiaries often cannot directly inherit assets after your passing. It is important to consult with a Cobb County Will and Trust lawyer to determine the best way for your underage beneficiaries to receive the inheritance you leave for them at the time when they can make informed financial decisions on their own. Directing the assets to a Will or trust is often the best bet in these situations, but consulting with an attorney will give you a much better idea of how this should be done.
Underage Beneficiaries on Life Insurance
Many parents and grandparents name their children or grandchildren as beneficiaries on their life insurance policies. As with the cases above though, an adult guardian or a trust must be named in order to hold the life insurance proceeds until the minors come of age. It is generally not advised to name minors as beneficiaries to life insurance policies, as courts will often appoint an adult to look after the proceeds until the child comes of age – and that adult may not be someone you would have wanted appointed to such a role. Speaking with a Cobb County Will and Trust lawyer may help you determine the best way to handle your life insurance beneficiary designations.
If you have any questions about the best ways to leave an inheritance to underage beneficiaries, please contact us at 770-425-6060 or email@example.com to set up a complimentary, no obligation Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session.
Trusts lawyers in Atlanta have the important job of helping their clients create a legacy that is compliant with a number of different laws. For the most part, these laws will vary from state to state. Some differences are minor, while others can impact the trust significantly. Someone who already has established a trust in one state may very well want to at least review it with a trusts lawyer when relocating to another.
For example, if you have created a trust in Georgia but then move to Florida for retirement, it’s a good idea to meet with a trusts lawyer in your new city. Likewise, someone moving from somewhere else in the U.S. to metro Atlanta should contact a Georgia trust lawyer to review the documents and potentially amend them to meet the law here.
Most often, when a trust is administered, it is done so under the laws of the state where the person resides. This can get a little tricky if you have residences in two states—say, if you’re a “snowbird.” In those situations, it’s best to work with trusts lawyers in both states. The changes needed may be as small as a little wording, but they could also be more complicated.
There are some estate planning documents that should always be addressed with a trusts lawyer when moving to a new state. Powers of attorney are vital for determining who can represent you should you become incapacitated, and those are administered under state law. Powers of attorney drawn up by a trusts lawyer in Atlanta may be disregarded by the courts in another area.
A final consideration in the discussion of where to establish a trust is the tax implications. By working with a good trusts lawyer, you can uncover which state may hold the best benefits for you, your estate, and your heirs. It is possible to have trusts set up in more than one state, though the complexities of doing so are absolutely something that should be done with the guidance of a knowledgeable professional with plenty of experience in trusts administration.
To schedule an appointment for a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session to help you review or create your estate plan, at one of our five metro Atlanta offices, we invite you to call 770-425-6060 to get started
If you’d like to give your loved ones and yourself the gift of peace of mind, please call Steve at 770-425-6060 or 770-421-0808 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A will is one of the most basic estate planning documents in Georgia, and a Marietta Estate Planning Lawyer will tell you that every adult should have one to make sure that there is no question about what will happen to your assets and your children if something happens to you. But there are some reasons having a trust in addition to a will is essential. Here are 6 reasons:
- You want to avoid probate or conservatorship.A fully funded trust will avoid the probate process, which will save your loved ones time and money. In order to carry out your instructions in your will, a probate will have to be filed in the Probate Court of the county where you lived before your death. Also, if you become incapacitated, your family will also have to file in the Probate Court for guardianship and/or conservatorship over you. A will does nothing for you in that case, because it only goes into operation at death. These steps may not be necessary if you have a created a trust.
- You want to provide for a person with special needs.If you have a child or another dependent who has special needs, a Special Needs Trust can protect the assets for a special needs person without jeopardizing their ability to qualify for government benefits. A will allows you to transfer assets to a special needs person, but may not fully protect those assets.
- You want privacy. Since a will has to go through probate in Georgia, it becomes a public record. A trust is completely private.
- You have a blended family.If you are part of a blended family, a trust can give you the flexibility you will want to make sure that your children from a prior marriage are provided for in the way you want.
- You have out-of-state property.If you own property in another state besides Georgia, you can more easily transfer ownership via a trust than a will. Transferring out-of-state property in a will usually means additional legal expenses because you could have probate in multiple states and that is an additional, and costly, hassle for the people you love.
- You want to provide asset protection for someone else.If you want to protect the assets you leave your loved ones from creditors (including bankruptcy and divorce) a trust is the best way to do it. It’s a gift you can give your loved ones that they could not easily (if at all) give themselves.
Our Marietta Estate Planning Lawyers can help you determine if a will or a trust is best for you and your family. Call us at 770-425-6060 to schedule a Georgia Family Treasures Planning and Discovery Session ($600 value) at No Charge.
Will and trust lawyers in Marietta see plenty of situations where parents who love their children are not entirely in love with their children’s spouses. This can make the estate planning process a little tricky, because the spouse can add tension and stir up drama that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. While some people include their sons-and-daughters-in-law in the planning process, it’s not all that unusual to leave them out.
For the most part, the son-in-law or daughter-in-law isn’t even mentioned in the will. They don’t really even have any legal standing to inherit from the parent unless they are specifically named. So, the parent would name his or her own child, but not the child’s spouse. If the adult child was no longer living, the property would probably end up being inherited by the grandchildren, rather than the spouse.
That’s not to say that a child’s spouse couldn’t end up with an inheritance. If the parents were to leave assets to the adult child and then the adult child passed away, his or her property would likely go to the spouse, and that includes what was inherited from the parents. One would hope that this property would eventually be passed on to the grandchildren (assuming there are grandchildren), but this is not a given, as the spouse would have the legal right to do whatever he or she wanted with it. In fact, if the spouse remarried, his or her new spouse would be the legal choice to inherit any property that was left behind, including that which was inherited this way.
So, can a Marietta will and trust lawyer keep your child’s spouse out of your plan entirely? Yes! You can work with your attorney to develop an inheritance trust that will protect any money you leave your kids from divorce, lawsuits, and creditors and keeps your money in the family.
Creating an estate plan can be emotional and having the additional drama of a difficult personality certainly won’t help matters any. On the other hand, you may absolutely adore your son-or-daughter-in-law and want to make sure that they are taken care of by your estate. In those cases, you will want to make sure that your Marietta GA estate planning lawyer specifically mentions them and what they are inheriting for your own peace of mind.