How to Avoid the Need for an Expensive Probate Process in Marietta, Georgia

How to Avoid the Need for an Expensive Probate Process in Marietta, Georgia

 

 

marietta probate lawyer steve worrall

It has been said: “There’s hell, and then there’s probate.”

If you are dealing with an estate that must go through the probate process in Cobb County, Georgia, your smartest move will likely be working with an experienced Marietta probate lawyer.  There are cases where simple estates will move through fairly easily, but there is still a matter of paperwork, accounting, etc. to consider; and a probate lawyer can save you an incredible amount of time and hassle.

The best way to reduce the costs of the probate process in Georgia is making sure your estate planning has been done in advance.  This means you’ve set up wills, trusts, and any other applicable legal documents so those you leave behind won’t have to deal with taking the entire estate through the court system.  Trusts, such as a revocable living trust, are one of the most common tools for avoiding probate, but there are some other possible options.

Small Estates

Some people think that having a will means your estate will bypass the process.  Any reputable probate lawyer in Marietta will tell you, however, this isn’t the case.  Having a will is still important, as it provides important directions for the dissemination of your estate, but it doesn’t get your heirs off the hook when it comes to probate.

If the estate is truly a “small” one, then you may be able to avoid probate.  This can happen where there the only thing left behind is personal property.  In these situations, there is no real estate to be inherited.  The laws regarding the allowable value of an estate to be considered in this group can change, so it might be helpful to at least chat with a Marietta probate lawyer to see if the estate qualifies.  If so, the heir may create an affidavit that will work instead of going through probate.  There may also be some simplified court procedures available to heirs of these small estates.

Transfer-on-Death Deeds

Some states allow for real estate to be transferred after death without going through probate. This kind of deed must be created in advance and will specify it doesn’t take effect until the owner of the property has died. These deeds are NOT recognized in Georgia, so do not be taken in by any online service that offers to handle it for you. Deeds can be prepared, though, that leave a remainder interest in real estate. This should not be attempted without advice of an experienced Marietta wills and trusts attorney, however, because these deeds cancan create problems for the original owner if he or she later needs to apply for Medicaid assistance. No real estate can be transferred via a simple “gentleman’s agreement” and a deed requires legal preparation, signatures, and notarization before being filed with the appropriate county clerk.

These are just two tools available to those who want to avoid the eventual need for a probate lawyer.  If they have not been put into place, or you’re not sure if these rules apply to you, speak with a qualified attorney in advance.

If you need to review your own plan or if you’ve lost a loved one and need help dealing with winding up their affairs, please call our office today at (770) 425-6060 to set up a Georgia Estate Review Session with our experienced estate lawyers. Do not go through this alone. The GeorgiaFamilyLaw team is here to help you and your family.

 

7 Good Reasons You Need An Estate Plan — Even If You Only Have $500 in the Bank

7 Good Reasons You Need An Estate Plan — Even If You Only Have $500 in the Bank

Atlanta estate planning law firmContrary to popular belief, estate planning in metro Atlanta is not just about money or taxes.  Far from it. Today, it’s more about protecting your assets for yourself and your loved ones, achieving your financial goals and safeguarding your health care.  Money and taxes aside, here are 7 good reasons you need an estate plan:

1.  Your Health care.  Defining how your medical needs will be addressed in case you cannot make health care decisions for yourself is a primary objective of having an estate plan.  You also need to consider how you will meet the costs of long-term care.  You need to name someone to make decisions for you and tell them how you want them made.  This must be legally documented or the person you want caring for you, cannot.

2.  Probate.  Probate in metro Atlanta is an unnecessary, public and often expensive court process that takes control out of your family’s hands and puts that control in the hands of a Judge who doesn’t know you or what’s important to you.  A main focus of metro Atlanta estate planning is keeping your family out of court. Period.

3.  Family feuds.  Family fights over how assets are divided and distributed are common when there is no estate plan and/or trusted advisor to guide family members.   Sadly enough, these fights happen even when amounts of money are small OR even when there is no money at stake.  Some of the biggest fights we’ve seen happen in storage units over sentimental items with no monetary value at all. If you don’t want your family to fight, you plan your estate.

4.  Beneficiary forms.  You likely have several assets that cannot be passed along in a will alone.   These include IRAs, life insurance, retirement plans and annuities, all of which are governed by beneficiary forms that specify who is to receive the assets upon the death of an account holder.  Completing these forms properly is estate planning

5.  Kids and parents.  If you are currently responsible for the care of minor children, elderly parents or a person who has special needs you need a plan for the continuation of that care after you are gone.

6.  Managing assets.  Is your spouse or other family member capable of managing all your assets?  If not, you will need to name someone who is capable of doing this now so your assets will be managed wisely for the benefit of your family in the future.

7.  Business succession.  If you own a business in metro Atlanta, you will need a succession plan to govern what happens to your ownership shares if something should happen to you.

If you would like to have a talk about guiding your loved ones through estate planning, call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. We normally charge $750 for a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, but because this planning is so important, I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session at our metro Atlanta estate planning law firm no charge. Call us today at 770-425-6060 and mention this article.

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