Georgia Estate Planning Blog

Non-financial issues in estate planning

Many people in Georgia see estate planning as arranging for the transfer of physical assets and financial accounts. To a large extent, that vision is correct. Planning for post-death transfers of property is the main reason for creating an estate plan.

While wills, trusts and powers of attorney are being considered, however, the estate planning client can take the opportunity to finalize their last wishes in a number of other areas. Sometimes, this is referred to as the 'soft side" of estate planning. Living wills and health care powers of attorney play their roles in this side of planning, but there are more issues the client may wish to consider.

The responsibilities of the executor of a will in Georgia

An important part of careful estate planning is appointing an executor whom you can rely on to ensure the carrying out of your wishes when the time comes. Understanding what the executor will have to do can help you make the right decision.

As you read through the following outline of a Georgia executor's obligations, consider how the person you have in mind will likely handle them. Ask yourself whether an appointment might be too burdensome for an otherwise qualified person, or whether it might generate conflict among the will's beneficiaries.

Using trusts for estate planning

Estate holders in Georgia should think about taxes and income when planning for the future of their assets. The goal is for one to be able to have control over their assets after passing away.

In conjunction with a will, a trust is a legal document that provides instructions for distributing an estate. The terms of a trust establish how the assets can be used and distributed, and this may be the primary means of dispersing an estate if all or the majority of assets are in a trust.

Estate planning for women

Women living in Georgia may have unique estate planning needs. The reasons for this include that women often live longer than men, may earn less over their lifetimes and might not be as familiar as their husbands with the "big picture" of investments and retirement funds.

Statistically, women in the United States have an average life expectancy that is more than four years longer than the average lifespan of a man. In addition, many women marry men who are at least a few years older than them. This means that many married women will outlive their husbands by at least several years, and in some cases, this can stretch into decades.

The benefits of a power of attorney

Georgia residents may benefit from adding a durable power of attorney to their estate plan. A power of attorney allows an individual to name an agent to act on his or her behalf. By making that power durable, the agent may act even when the person who appointed that agent is mentally incapacitated. Depending on a person's needs, it may be possible to give one or more people a power of attorney.

It may also be possible to name a financial institution or another entity as a person's agent. Whoever is granted power of attorney may take actions such as filing tax returns or overseeing the sale of a house. Ideally, a power of attorney document will be created by an attorney as even a small mistake in drafting it could cause problems in the future.

Reasons to hire legal counsel to create an estate plan

Some Georgia residents may not want to pay for an attorney to help them create an estate plan. However, there may be downsides to using a will template or other templates that can be downloaded from the internet. For instance, those who have children and are thinking about getting remarried may want to create a custom estate plan. As a general rule, it is better to create a trust with the help of a professional.

Working with an attorney may also decrease the odds that an individual overlooks a small detail. Forgetting to name a beneficiary could result in significant problems for an estate after an individual passes away. Hiring an attorney may also make it possible to create an estate plan strategy that helps some or all assets avoid probate. These are issues that a computer may not bring up or be designed to address when an individual creates an estate.

Estate planning and final arrangements

When Georgia residents begin the estate planning process, they are often concerned about issues such as asset distribution, establishing trusts, and end-of-life decision-making. Sometimes, however, estate planning neglects the issue of final arrangements.

Unfortunately, it is not unusual for people to not include their wishes regarding these arrangements. This can leave family members in a difficult situation as they try to navigate their options, including burial, cremation and whether they wish to have a service in honor of the decedent. In some cases, uncertainty about the decedent's wishes can result in bad feelings between family members.

Using a qualified personal residence trust

With a qualified personal residence trust, a Georgia resident can transfer their home to a trust and reserve the right to live on the property for a certain number of years. Conducting a home transfer with this type of trust reduces the amount of gift tax an individual would owe and eliminate the value of the home from one's estate.

According to current law, the cost basis for purposes of figuring out gain on a sale is increased to the date-of-death value. The heirs who receive the home are forced to report a reduced taxable gain when they sell the property.

What to know about wills before meeting lawyers

How many people today lack a will? A report from the American Association of Retired Persons showed that only about four out of every 10 American adults have crafted a will.

It is vital to get this document out of the way as soon as possible. People may think it is easy enough to meet with an estate planning attorney to get the necessary paperwork sorted. However, people need to do some homework beforehand to be adequately prepared for the first meeting.

New law makes it easier for disabled individuals to create SNTs

Individuals who live in Georgia might know about a federal law that was passed earlier this year called the 21st Century Cures Act. The act was signed into law by President Obama toward the end of 2016. The law allows individuals with disabilities to create their own special needs trusts (SNTs).

Special needs trusts are irrevocable trusts for people with disabilities who receive public assistance, such as Medicaid. An SNT holds the assets of the individual, and they can be created by the individual, the family of an individual or by either one. Their assets can be added to a pool trust that holds the assets of other individuals with disabilities.

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We are ready to help you start planning. To schedule an initial consultation, call us at 770-822-2723 or 866-735-9628. You may also contact us online.


Johns Creek Office
11555 Medlock Bridge Road, Suite 100
Johns Creek, GA 30097

Toll Free: 866-735-9628
Phone: 770-822-2723
Fax: 770-573-3379
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Lawrenceville Office
1755 North Brown Road, Suite 200
Lawrenceville, GA 30043

Toll Free: 866-735-9628
Phone: 770-822-2723
Fax: 770-573-3379
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