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.

 

Avoid Probate in Cobb County, Georgia, Using Transfer on Death (TOD) Agreements

Dreamstime_13753365 By Steve Worrall, Cobb County Probate Lawyer

Avoiding probate in Cobb County, Georgia, is a very real concern for people who want to make sure certain assets such as stocks, bonds, brokerage and bank accounts automatically pass to their heirs upon their death.

In such a scenario, Transfer on Death Agreements (also known as TOD’s) can be a very useful and convenient estate planning tool in making sure your loved ones are financially taken care of in your absence.

Essentially, Transfer on Death Agreements allow you to pass ownership of your accounts directly to a beneficiary of your choosing when death occurs.  Without such designations, each account would have to go through the probate court before it can be distributed to your desired heirs.

Yet you may be wondering, “What’s wrong with going through Cobb County probate and why bother with tools such as TOD’s to avoid it?”

Well for starters, many people wish to avoid involvement with the Cobb County Probate Court simply because it could take a year or longer before the funds actually reach your desired beneficiaries.  This is problematic for families who desperately need the assets to pay for burial expenses, outstanding medical bills, mortgage payments, and general living expenses.

Not to mention, the value of your assets passing through probate may be reduced by as much as 5%, as mandatory attorney and court fees will be taken directly out of the estate.

Finally, one of the greatest drawbacks of probate is that the value of your assets will be made public for the whole world to see. This aspect of Cobb County probate is especially troublesome for people who do not want every scam-artist or busybody in town knowing what their heirs stand to inherit upon their passing.

Yet it is important to remember that while TOD agreements will help you avoid probate on some of your assets, it won’t help you avoid probate on the rest of your personal effects such as jewelry, collections, family heirlooms, the contents of your home, etc.

Nor will TOD agreements help you minimize the amount of estate taxes your family might have to pay upon your passing or protect your assets if incapacity and not death occurs.

That’s why it’s so important you speak with a Cobb County probate attorney before making any decisions about your financial or legal affairs.  While a TOD is indeed a useful estate planning tool that can help you avoid probate, it may not be the best – or the only tool your family needs to ensure they are protected should something unexpectedly happen to you.

Fortunately, we’ve made the process of meeting with a Cobb County probate lawyer easier than ever by offering free Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session (normally $750) to anyone that takes the time to read this informational article.  However, these sessions are limited to 10 per month, so call 770-425-6060 to reserve your spot today.

SOURCE: GeorgiaFamilyLaw.com