Many grandparents wish to leave a legacy behind for their grandchildren; however, they may run into some issues if those children are underage. A Cobb County Will and Trust lawyer can help you determine what the best options are for leaving assets to underage beneficiaries, whether those assets are held in a Will or Trust, financial accounts, or as part of a life insurance benefit.
Underage Beneficiaries in a Will or Trust
Cobb County Will and Trust lawyers will always ask their clients if any of their beneficiaries are underage, or even if they would like to keep younger beneficiaries from accessing their full inheritance until they’ve reached a certain age, which is usually 25. If the children are underage, an adult property guardian must be named since minors are not allowed to own property. If a significant amount of property is left to the minor, a Trust should be set up to manage the property until the child comes of age. In fact, Trusts can be used to ensure the minor only receives their full inheritance once they reach a certain age or milestone, such as graduating from college, while at the same time providing assets to make sure the child can achieve that milestone. A Marietta Wills and Trusts attorney can speak with you about leaving an inheritance to an underage child and will help you choose the best option for administering the distributions.
Underage Beneficiaries of Financial Accounts
Many people choose to make beneficiary designations directly on their financial accounts, such as savings accounts, annuities, and retirement plans. Cobb County Wills and Trusts attorneys urge their clients to carefully examine the details surrounding these beneficiary designations, as minor beneficiaries often cannot directly inherit assets after your passing. It is important to consult with a Cobb County Will and Trust lawyer to determine the best way for your underage beneficiaries to receive the inheritance you leave for them at the time when they can make informed financial decisions on their own. Directing the assets to a Will or Trust is often the best bet in these situations, but consulting with an attorney will give you a much better idea of how this should be done.
Underage Beneficiaries on Life Insurance
Many parents and grandparents name their children or grandchildren as beneficiaries on their life insurance policies. As with the cases above though, an adult guardian or a Trust must be named in order to hold the life insurance proceeds until the minors come of age. It is generally not advised to name minors as beneficiaries to life insurance policies, as courts will often appoint an adult to look after the proceeds until the child comes of age – and that adult may not be someone you would have wanted appointed to such a role. Speaking with a Cobb County Will and Trust lawyer may help you determine the best way to handle your life insurance beneficiary designations.
If you have any questions about the best ways to leave an inheritance to underage beneficiaries, please contact us at 770-425-6060 or firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary, no obligation Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session.
While it doesn’t happen in real life as often as it does in the movies and on soap operas, Marietta GA wills and trusts lawyers do sometimes have to deal with a contested will. Wills and trusts are created in order to ensure that a deceased’s wishes are followed, as well as for the financial benefit of heirs. Additionally, they are often used to protect minor children or those with special needs.
When a will is contested, it’s usually by someone who feels that property left to the will or trust was not bequeathed appropriately. In the case of children, someone may feel he or she is a better-suited guardian than the one a parent named. It’s up to the Marietta wills and trusts lawyer to help ensure that the decedent’s wishes are carried out. This may boil down to refuting claims made by others, but the most important job is to set the will or trust up properly to begin with.
When Can Someone Contest a Will?
There are several reasons that a will can be legitimately contested:
- The decedent didn’t understand the choices he or she was making
- There is a mistake in the will
- It wasn’t properly executed (witnessed, etc.)
- The decent was unduly pressured by someone else
Contesting a will is not easy. Wills and trusts lawyers in Marietta and Cobb County do everything they can to make sure their client’s wishes are outlined according to the letter of the law in order to avoid just such a scenario. It’s also possible for a testator (the person making the will) to include a no-contest clause. The clause clearly indicates that anyone who contests the will forfeits their inheritance. This isn’t a 100% guarantee that no one will contest it, but it does offer some incentive to better follow your wishes. A Marietta Georgia wills and trusts lawyer can work with you to determine if this kind of clause might be beneficial.
When Can Someone Not Contest a Will?
There are reasons to contest a will, but “I don’t like what it says” is not one of them. An individual isn’t allowed to simply drag everyone into court to change a will because he or she isn’t happy with the way the property has been distributed. So, if your sister thinks she should have gotten your mother’s ring, but you left it to your daughter, the sister doesn’t have grounds to contest the will. Additionally, only someone with a direct financial interest is allowed to contest it. That means that a son-in-law cannot contest a will because he thinks his wife was treated unfairly.
Avoiding the Issue Altogether
The best approach, of course, is to work with an experienced Marietta wills and trusts lawyer who can set things up properly from the very beginning. The estate plan should be comprehensive and not leave room for ambiguity to be exploited later. Likewise, the attorney will make sure that each aspect of the process complies with applicable laws. As for the testator, there are things he or she can do to reduce the likelihood of a will being contested, one of the most important of which is to share what the will says and what your reasons are with beneficiaries before you pass away. This leads to less surprises later and also provides a better understanding of the decisions you have made.
When it comes to creating your Last Will and Testament in Georgia, it is helpful to remember these points:
• Put it in writing.
• State it is your will.
• State whether prior wills and codicils are revoked.
• Name your legal heirs or say you have none. (A Georgia wills and trusts attorney can make sure you have included the right persons.)
• State that you want your estate to pay for your funeral and burial expenses; describe them.
• Name who is to be the representative of your estate (personal representative or executor).
• Name back-up representatives.
• State if your representative and back-up representative are free from bond, appraisals, inventories, returns.
• Name who is to be the guardian of your minor children if you and your spouse both die.
• Name back-up guardians.
• Name a trustee for your minor children if you and your spouse both die.
• Name back-up trustees.
• Set out the compensation and powers of your representative, children’s guardian, and trustee.
• State to whom you give your property; provide for a residuary clause.
• Clarify ownership of accounts with more than one name on them.
• If you divide your property among heirs, have you considered the effect of an outstanding mortgage on the person who receives that particular piece?
• If your estate is to pay all your “just debts”, do you want mortgages excepted?
• Is there a possible federal tax liability? Ask your Georgia wills attorney about testamentary trusts and gifts to legal charities.
• Ask your attorney if you need an “in terrorem” clause if you are concerned someone will contest the will.
• Sign in front of two witnesses at your Georgia estate planning attorney’s office. If the witnesses are needed, the attorney is best able to find them. To make things even easier when the time comes, you and the witnesses can sign a self-proving certificate in front of a notary to save the witnesses from having to come in if the will is uncontested. Ask the attorney about a codicil (amendment) to make changes in a will, to save having to redo the will.
Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When you die, your last will and testament helps to ensure that your property is distributed among your family and friends as you wish.
What You Should Know:
- Because state laws regarding wills, detailed in the Official Code of Georgia, seem complex at times, you may want to talk to an attorney early in the process of estate planning.
- You can’t be forced into signing a will. In order for a will to be valid at your county probate court, you must have freely agreed to its terms.
- Wills are individual, so there’s no one form to use. You should make certain, though, that your will fully complies with state laws.
- You may identify in your will an executor who will work with the county probate court, manage your estate and pay off all your estate’s debts.
- If you ask a beneficiary of your will to serve as a witness, ask at least two trusted others who are not named in the will to serve as the other witnesses.
- To help the county probate court accept your will, you may want to self-prove the document. You’ll visit a notary public with the witnesses who signed your will, and all of you will sign an attachment to the will that states that the will is yours.
When should I update my will?
When you go through any major change in your life–a marriage, a divorce, a birth or adoption of a child, or a move between states–you should consider updating your will.
I’ve just recently moved to Georgia. Is my will valid here if I wrote it back in my old home state?
It depends. Speak with an estate attorney to review Georgia laws.
Trusts lawyers in Atlanta have the important job of helping their clients create a legacy that is compliant with a number of different laws. For the most part, these laws will vary from state to state. Some differences are minor, while others can impact the trust significantly. Someone who already has established a trust in one state may very well want to at least review it with a trusts lawyer when relocating to another.
For example, if you have created a trust in Georgia but then move to Florida for retirement, it’s a good idea to meet with a trusts lawyer in your new city. Likewise, someone moving from somewhere else in the U.S. to metro Atlanta should contact a Georgia trust lawyer to review the documents and potentially amend them to meet the law here.
Most often, when a trust is administered, it is done so under the laws of the state where the person resides. This can get a little tricky if you have residences in two states—say, if you’re a “snowbird.” In those situations, it’s best to work with trusts lawyers in both states. The changes needed may be as small as a little wording, but they could also be more complicated.
There are some estate planning documents that should always be addressed with a trusts lawyer when moving to a new state. Powers of attorney are vital for determining who can represent you should you become incapacitated, and those are administered under state law. Powers of attorney drawn up by a trusts lawyer in Atlanta may be disregarded by the courts in another area.
A final consideration in the discussion of where to establish a trust is the tax implications. By working with a good trusts lawyer, you can uncover which state may hold the best benefits for you, your estate, and your heirs. It is possible to have trusts set up in more than one state, though the complexities of doing so are absolutely something that should be done with the guidance of a knowledgeable professional with plenty of experience in trusts administration.
To schedule an appointment for a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session to help you review or create your estate plan, at one of our five metro Atlanta offices, we invite you to call 770-425-6060 to get started
If you’d like to give your loved ones and yourself the gift of peace of mind, please call Steve at 770-425-6060 or 770-421-0808 or email him at email@example.com.
For those who love their stepchildren as their own, it may come as a surprise that this bond isn’t enough when it comes to estate planning in Georgia. Because of the laws of inheritance, stepchildren do not automatically inherit when a stepparent dies.
Let’s say you’re creating your estate plan, and you stipulate that your estate should be divided equally among your children. The courts will typically only apply that to any biological children you may have, completely ignoring any claim from stepchildren. In these cases, it’s nice to think that the biological children would share, but it’s definitely not a foregone conclusion. Even if they did, there would be additional tax implications for all involved.
On the other hand, if you don’t have any biological children, your Atlanta will lawyer will tell you that your stepchildren will still not have any rights to your estate. Instead, it would pass to your spouse, your parents, your siblings, or even your cousins, rather than to the young people you helped to raise.
Should you wish for your stepchildren to receive an inheritance, you must make your wishes clearly, and legally, known. The most common way to do this would be to have a will lawyer in Atlanta draw up a will that outlines exactly what you want to happen with your estate. The document will need to be witnessed, and your attorney may advise you to take other precautions to make sure the will holds up when the time comes.
Another approach to estate planning for stepchildren would be to create a trust that names them as the beneficiaries. Trusts can be funded in a number of ways, such as with savings or assets; or they can be funded through life insurance. Various accounts, such as bank accounts, insurance policies, or IRAs can also be left specifically to stepchildren as long as the stepchildren are named as beneficiaries.
Adopted children do not face the same difficulties as stepchildren, as they are treated just like biological children according to the laws of succession. Children born outside of marriage may have to prove that they are descendents of the person who has passed away if there is no mention of them in a will.
Finally, this information should be kept in mind when your biological children are someone else’s stepchildren. Should you get remarried and then pass away, your estate goes directly to your spouse, not your children. When he or she passes, everything goes to his or her biological children. If you haven’t worked with a will lawyer in Atlanta to prepare for this, your children’s inheritance would legally go to their stepsiblings.
Blended families are common, but the laws of succession are often misunderstood. If you are a stepparent or your children have a stepparent, it is a good idea to talk to an Atlanta will lawyer to make sure everyone’s interests are considered.