This is the next post in our series on the importance of estate planning for Atlanta residents. Our last article explained what happens when one dies without a will in Georgia. Such cases would be governed by our intestate succession laws and the deceased’s assets would be distributed according to an order predetermined by state law. This can result in one’s estate being divided in a way that is inconsistent with their final wishes. Having an estate plan in place will prevent such a situation from occurring. In this article we will look at why a Trust should be part of that estate plan. If you require assistance then contact our office today to speak with an attorney.
A Trust is considered a separate and unique legal entity in which people may place assets. There are many benefits to placing one’s assets in a Trust. The first of these benefits is that the assets can skip probate upon someone’s death. This is due to the fact that any assets would automatically pass to the Trust’s named beneficiaries. A second benefit of a Trust is that it provides for a wider range of options as to how assets will be distributed upon one’s death. Say, for example, one wishes to leave a sum of money for a grandchild but does not wish for the money to be distributed until the grandchild has graduated from college. The money would be distributed to the grandchild immediately if the person leaving the money only prepared a last will and testament. A Trust, however would allow for the money to be held and managed by a “Trustee” until the grandchild graduates. The money would then be distributed upon graduation. These are just a few examples of benefits which come from having a Trust.
A Trust can also be used in conjunction with a last will and testament. It is common for someone to create an “Empty Trust.” This is a Trust which contains no assets. Upon a person’s death, their last will and testament can require that all assets be left to the Trust. The assets would then be managed in a method discussed below. It is suggested that you speak with counsel to determine whether it is in your best interests to pair a will with a Trust.
A Trust can be formed with the help of an attorney. It can hold your assets, acquire property, and checks can be written out of the Trust to pay your bills. The people responsible for controlling the Trust are known as “Trustees.” If you create a Trust for yourself then you may serve as your own Trustee during your lifetime. As a provision of the Trust you would name beneficiaries who will receive the various assets in accordance with any terms you define. You will also name someone who will serve as Trustee upon your death. The person who serves as Trustee will be responsible for overseeing the assets in the Trust, distributing those assets to their heirs, and making sure that the interest of your beneficiaries remain protected. It is crucial that your Trust be set up properly as mistakes or oversights can lead to problems during your lifetime or for the beneficiaries after your passing.
Contact our Atlanta estate planning lawyers in order to determine whether you should establish a Trust and for assistance with doing so. Our firm will help you to decide what the best course of action is for your given situation and we will draft the necessary documents to ensure that you have an effective estate plan. We are ready to assist you. We also service areas including Macon, Savannah, Athens, Kennesaw, Marietta, Decatur, Dunwoody, Stone Mountain, Tucker, Alpharetta, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Norcross, Gainesville, as well as the counties of Bibb, Chatham, Clarke, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, and Richmond. We also assist those elsewhere in the state of Georgia and throughout the United States.