Marietta Probate Lawyer Cautions Before Adding a Child to Your Bank Account | Non-Probate Property

Marietta Probate Lawyer Cautions Before Adding a Child to Your Bank Account

probate attorney in mariettaprobate attorney in mariettaWhen working with families dealing with probate on a loved one’s estate, Marietta probate lawyers often find themselves answering a variety of questions about how to avoid probate in the future. There are a whole lot of tools at the disposal of a Marietta probate attorney when it comes to protecting an estate, and each has its pros and cons.

One method that older individuals sometimes consider to keep some assets out of probate is to have their adult children added as “joint owners” of their bank accounts. Essentially, this means that the account, and its contents, becomes the property of not only the parent, but also anyone else named as a joint owner. The intention is that once the parent passes away, the or children can immediately access the money without it ever having to go through probate.

This approach can work, and it’s possible that a Marietta probate lawyer will recommend it as a viable option for passing on assets. On the other hand, he or she might not because adding others to your accounts can lead to other problems. These don’t affect every individual, so you will definitely want to discuss it thoroughly with a probate lawyer in Marietta. That said, some potential pitfalls should be considered.

For one thing, every joint owner will have full access to the account. Even while the parent is alive, the adult child or children could choose to spend however he or she wishes with no legal repercussions. Sadly, many parents have lost their entire income or savings when their children have taken advantage of the situation. To take it a step further, unless every single child/heir is listed as a joint owner on the account, whomever has been named could theoretically keep all of the money without splitting it with siblings.

Another very real concern is that both the parent and the child could also suffer should one of them be in debt. Creditors could demand money from anyone with their name on the account, regardless of who put the money in there. So, if the parent’s Social Security check was deposited but the child (who was a joint owner on the account) owes back taxes, it’s possible that the Social Security money could be seized to pay the debt.

Again, these are just matters to take into consideration. It’s up to you and a good Marietta probate lawyer to determine what will work best for your particular circumstance and situation.

 

Trustee Fees as Part of Special Needs Planning in Georgia

In order to ensure proper use of funds,  lawyers for special needs planning in Georgia help their clients choose a trustee.  This person is put in charge of the special needs trust, and instead of providing money directly to the beneficiary (the child with special needs), the trustee will usually pay directly from the trust to service providers, housing officials, etc.  Some trusts are set up with the parents and the special needs planning lawyer in a way that provides payment to the trustee for taking on these responsibilities.

Sometimes, there is no mention of a fee in the trust paperwork, but the trustee is still entitled to payment, if desired.  There are several factors that should go into determining an suitable fee, whether it is stipulated in advance by those creating the trust or it is later determined that one is needed.  The complexity of the trust is certainly one of those considerations.  If there are numerous investments that need to be managed, for example, it would be appropriate to pay the trustee for the time and expertise involved.

The types of services the trustee provides also play into determining the fee.  More complex tasks, like the investment management mentioned above, would likely be paid at a higher rate than less complicated ones, such as paying monthly bills.  The trustee would be responsible for tracking his or her time, along with the service, in order to determine a fair fee.

Occasionally, a trustee will pay for a good or service from personal money.  When that happens, the trustee can expect to be reimbursed out of the special needs trust by providing a receipt for money spent on the beneficiary’s behalf.  This type of payment is separate from the trustee’s fee and would not be treated the same.  That’s because the trustee’s fee is taxed as income.  On the trust’s end of things, the fee is a tax deduction.

Special needs planning lawyers in Georgia are continually looking for the best ways to serve their clients and provide for the future.  Having a trustee in place is one method to ensure that funds are being used appropriately, and paying that trustee can be one way to ensure the job gets done right.