Georgia Estate Planning Attorney
What is estate planning?
There are two things certain in life: death and taxes. Estate planning helps you prepare for both of these inevitable events in the future. An estate plan includes the preparation of a Will, as well as documents that state your medical and financial desires in the event you were to become incapacitated. These documents explain not only your intentions as to your estate and minor children in the event of your passing, but also who will act on your behalf in your absence of incapacitation to ensure your wishes are carried out. The ultimate goal of estate planning is to help you preserve wealth and direct it to intended beneficiaries like children, grandchildren, spouses, family members, business partners, friends, and charitable causes.
If you own a home, for instance, you will likely want that home to pass on to a specific person. With an estate plan in place, you can ensure that this property will end up in the right hands. To help you with all of your estate planning needs in Georgia, contact your local probate attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ today.
What assets/property will be part of my estate?
Have questions about structuring your estate? Contact the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ for a FREE estate planning consultation. Our team will help you conduct a thorough review of your assets, liabilities, and property interests, so that you can organize a plan for the future.
How do you create an estate plan in Georgia?
An estate planning attorney can help you find the most efficient and cost-effective legal tools for wealth preservation. An estate planning attorney will draft legal instruments that ensure certain property ends up with the intended beneficiary. Without a legal adviser, there is a greater chance for error, meaning that multiple family members might argue over the same piece of estate property. To minimize these disputes, an estate planning attorney will use the following legal tools to resolve ambiguity and create certainty for you and your family in the future:
Wills: A last Will & Testament is the most commonly used estate planning tool in Georgia. A Will is a legal document that names the intended beneficiaries of your estate. A Will becomes effective upon death and bequeaths property to family members and loved ones in an orderly manner. To create a legally enforceable Will, you must follow certain guidelines and requirements. Always consult an attorney about the validity of your Will.
Co-Ownership of Property: When property is jointly held by co-owners, the death of one co-owner could immediately transfer the remaining property rights to the surviving co-owner. Basically, if you and your spouse jointly own a home, the death of either spouse may vest full ownership of the property in the surviving spouse. By restructuring property/ownership rights, your attorney can help you achieve an ideal estate planning solution.
Lifetime Gifts: Primarily used for tax purposes, lifetime gifts may be used as an estate planning tool. By gifting property to family members or loved ones during your lifetime, you may achieve certain tax advantages depending on the value of the gift. Always consult an attorney about how these specific laws and tax regulations might affect your estate plan.
Durable Powers of Attorney: What happens in the event that you are incapacitated or disabled? Who will make important decisions on your behalf? By drafting a Power of Attorney, you can designate a specific agent to act on your behalf. A Durable Power of Attorney is primarily used for two purposes: (a) healthcare decision-making and (b) property management.
Advanced Directives: Sometimes called a “living will,” an Advanced Healthcare Directive will lay out your plan for end-of-life care. In the event that you are incapacitated or disabled, these legal documents ensure that your family and doctors can carry out your wishes effectively. Consult an attorney about drafting an Advanced Medical Directive in Georgia.
How do I draft a will in Georgia?
To create a legally enforceable will in Georgia, the person making the will (i.e., the testator) must comply with certain legal rules. To ensure the validity of a will in Georgia, contact the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ to review the enforceability of your last will & testament.
- Marital status: Your relationship with a spouse or partner is a major consideration in an estate plan. An attorney will help you examine how your spouse will receive assets from the estate.
- Family relationships: As you get older, your family can grow in size as children and grandchildren come into your life. Over the course of decades, some family relationships flourish while others fade away. To account for these family dynamics, always consult an attorney about how your family relationships could affect your estate plan.
- Estate size: How much property do you plan to pass on? More importantly, do you have an idea about the value of your estate? Dealing with uncertainty is expensive. Without an adequate estate plan, your family members will waste significant resources trying to figure out what to do next (or even litigating issues in probate court). Estate plans help resolve this problem by helping estates of all sizes conserve limited resources.
- Appointment of an Executor: Is there someone in your life that you can appoint to make important decisions after you pass away? Your last will & testament may designate an executor or personal representative to take care of your property after death. The representative will then become the primary point-of-contact for dealing with assets in the estate and interacting with the probate court.
What happens if I don’t have a will in Georgia?
When someone dies without a will, they are considered to be “decedent.” In these scenarios, where the deceased does not specify how they want to distribute property at death, Georgia law automatically kicks in to determine how to allocate property. These are called intestate succession laws, and they can get pretty complicated depending on which family members are alive at the time of the intestate’s death.
Georgia law lays out a specific hierarchy for determining how property is divided up among every possible family member: spouses, children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, cousins, and other relatives. Because this area of law can be very difficult, it can be fraught with uncertainty and disagreement among remaining family members. Always consult an attorney about what to do if a family member passes away without a will or estate plan.
Should I update my will?
Yes. For best estate planning practices in Georgia, you should regularly update your will to reflect financial and family changes in your life. Periodic review of your estate plan is an important piece of planning for the future. Contact the attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ to modify your estate plan or will.