End-of-life planning can be quite confusing for many people, as many of the strategies and tools used by estate planners can sometimes seem as though they’re selected at random. The reality is that every technique and strategy employed by those attorneys is carefully chosen to leverage existing legal provisions in a way that maximizes the benefits for each client and his or her family. For Georgia residents, it is important to understand how Georgia inheritance laws shape and influence the legacy planning that you’ll use to accomplish your estate planning goals.
Why We Have Inheritance Laws
Estate laws are an important component of an orderly inheritance process. As a result, every state in the United States has its own set of statutes that are used to define various aspects of the estate settlement process, provide asset protection, and set limits on what can and cannot be done in certain areas. Together, these laws are there to ensure that everyone is playing by the same set of rules, and to prevent unscrupulous parties from preying on estates to which they have no rightful claim.
Under the best of circumstances, these laws can help to ensure that a decedent’s assets are distributed in accordance with his instructions. And while the processes used to provide these assurances can sometimes seem slow and cumbersome, they are there for a reason. At the end of the day, laws governing probate, trust, asset protection, and other elements of inheritance planning are there to serve each and every one of us. We all benefit from the structures and controls that these laws place on the passing of assets from one generation to another.
Take, for example, probate law. Probate has been a part of our jurisprudence for centuries, and has long been the system of choice when it comes to proving a will and ensuring that its instructions are carried out. The Georgia inheritance laws help to reinforce the importance of this process by emphasizing its role in estate settlement. Probate laws require many things as part of the estate settlement process.
The will must be proved by the court. That involves a judge declaring it valid and assigning an executor – usually the person named in the will. Once that executor is named, he or she must then notify beneficiaries and creditors. The beneficiaries are informed that they are named heirs, while creditors receive notification of the decedent’s death so that they can levy claims for debts owed. The executor is also tasked with gathering, appraising, and protecting the estate’s assets, from which those debts – and any taxes due – will eventually be paid. When that process is complete, the executor helps the court distribute assets to heirs.
Laws Governing Wills
The laws governing the Last Will and Testament play a huge role in your legacy planning. Wills are the primary means used by those who want to ensure a proper distribution of their assets. Without the will, your estate ends up being subject to provisions in another law: the intestate laws. And the outcome that results from allowing statutes to determine your asset distribution could end up being quite different than what you’d choose if you made out your own will. Of course, when you die without a will, your estate could also be subject to unforeseen tax liability – liability that you could have planned for had you executed a proper inheritance plan.
Laws Governing Trusts
There are also laws in Georgia that govern trust creation and maintenance. These instruments can provide you with tax benefits, greater control over how and when assets get distributed, and a host of other benefits that can help you manage bequests to spendthrift heirs, minors, and beneficiaries with special needs. You can even have a trust for your beloved pet.
Laws Governing Other Asser Ownership Transfers
State law will also offer provisions that can inform the way in which your legacy planning strategy deals with other ownership transfer options like transfer on death designations. You can use these provisions for bank accounts, stock broker accounts, vehicles, and more. This option allows you to name a beneficiary who can take ownership of the designation accounts or other property when you die – and do so without probate.
Power of Attorney
Of course, incapacity planning is a critical part of any legacy plan, since it can determine how well your health and assets are protected against illness and injury that might leave you unable to manage your own affairs. You need to understand how the laws governing powers of attorney can work to your benefit to ensure that you have continuity of decision-making and can avoid costly and risky guardianships.
Inheritance Laws Matter!
The fact is that every law governing inheritance or related topics in the Georgia Code can have an impact on the success or failure of your legacy planning effort. Everything that you do to protect your family, your estate, and your interests must be done in accordance with valid legal provisions to ensure that the plan itself can withstand any challenge. Obviously, that is something that the average layperson will struggle to accomplish. Fortunately, however, an experienced estate planning attorney can help to guide you through every step of the process to ensure that you have the perfect legacy plan to meet your unique needs.
At Fouts Law Group, LLC, our estate planning attorneys can help you to make Georgia inheritance laws work to your benefit. Our team will work with you every step of the way, selecting the ideal tools and strategies that you need to create a plan that will protect everything that you hold most dear. We offer comprehensive inheritance planning, business and retirement strategies, Medicaid planning, and other important end-of-life strategies that can help you to achieve your estate planning goals. If you’re ready to put the state’s inheritance laws to work on your behalf, then contact us online or give us a call at (404) 596-7520 today so that we can schedule your appointment with our experienced planning team.
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