Georgia Estate Planning Essentials
Without a plan in place, your property may pass to unintended people, the value of your estate may be reduced by unnecessary taxes and court proceedings, and your family may face more hardship than necessary.
Determining which Estate Plan is best for you depends on your circumstances and objectives. Regardless of the plan you choose, always work with an experienced attorney familiar with the nuances of the Georgia Uniform Trust Code and Georgia Probate laws.
The most popular estate planning documents include the following:
Last will & testament
A Will names your chosen beneficiaries, who will execute your estate, describes the property you wish to be distributed, and if you have minor children, you can name a guardian and provide arrangements for their care.
Having a Will does NOT avoid Probate. Probate is a legal process used to validate your Will, collect your assets, value your estate, settle any debts, pay various taxes, and oversee the distribution of your assets to your heirs. Learn more about it here.
Without a Will in place, your estate must still go through Probate, and the court will distribute the assets according to Georgia law (rather than your wishes).
Revocable living trust
Many people think Trusts are only for the wealthy, but anyone can benefit from a Trust.
A Revocable Living Trust makes your last wishes known, protects you and your assets if you become incapacitated, AND avoids the costs, delays, and publicity of the Probate process. It is particularly useful for those who own out-of-state property and those with lots of moving parts.
A Complete Revocable Living Trust estate plan includes:
- The Revocable Living Trust
- Pour-Over Last Will & Testament
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Living Will
- Legal documents transferring your real estate to your Trust (if applicable)
FInancial Power of Attorney
A Financial Power of Attorney (or durable power of attorney for finances) allows you to name an agent to manage your finances on your behalf if you become incapacitated (unable to make decisions for yourself).
You can give your agent as much power as you wish, and you can determine when the agent's power takes effect.
This document protects you during your lifetime. The agent's power terminates upon your passing.
Georgia advance Directive for health care
This includes your Health Care Power of Attorney, which allows you to name an agent who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
It also includes a Living Will. In the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself, this written document formally states your instructions for end-of-life care. Without a current Living Will in place, Georgia law determines who makes these decisions.
Planning ahead makes your wishes known, relieves your loved ones of trying to guess what you would have wanted, and reduces confusion and disagreements.
Deciding end-of-life care is rarely easy. Do not wait until you are about to go into surgery to prepare these forms.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with a Thomas Walters Estate Planning attorney, contact us at (404) 260-1901.