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.
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.
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.
Estate planning lawyers in Cobb County have always had to keep up with the times, and this is just as true in Georgia as it is anywhere else. Often these changes include things like new legislation, but there are other factors that need to be considered, such as differing lifestyles and advancing technologies. Have you ever stopped to wonder what happens to your Facebook when you die?
It’s a question that even the legal world is starting to address. Of course, Facebook is only one of the social networks out there, and it’s likely that more will emerge, with some taking over the spotlight. For now, Facebook is certainly one of the most talked about, as Facebook has reached a billion users. As of November of 2012, Twitter had 500 million, Google+ had 400 million, Skype had 280, and LinkedIn had 175 million. And this represents only a fraction of the social networks that are out there.
New York, Oklahoma, and Nebraska were some of the first states to start taking a look at how estate planning attorneys might assist clients in designating personal representatives to take over their social media accounts should the original owner become deceased or incapacitated. Some people are referring to this as an “online executor,” and it’s even being suggested to officially name this person in the will or trust.
What About Facebook?
While it still remains to be seen how things will play out, especially as newer technologies become part of the Cobb County estate planning landscape, Facebook (as well as many other social media networks) already does have a system in place for dealing with the death of a user.
When someone passes away, Facebook allows another person to notify them. They will need to be able to supply the individual’s full name (used on the account), email address used to create the account, and the URL of the deceased’s profile. This is done through a form. In addition, the person must report their relationship with the deceased.
At this point, Facebook will ask what should be done with the profile. Some families prefer to take the entire thing down. Others choose the option of “memorializing” the page. When this happens, Facebook allows only those who were already confirmed as friends to see and post on the page. Many friends do this as a way to leave memories or express condolences to those left behind. If the account has been memorialized, it is removed from the general search function.
Another common option is for people to create their own pages in memory of a friend or family member. This can even be done in conjunction with the memorializing of the original page. The benefit is that this allows those who were not confirmed friends on the original account to leave messages, post photos, etc.
So, do you need to get a Cobb County will lawyer involved when it comes to your Facebook account? The answer to that is “maybe.” If your account is part of your business strategy, for example, you might find it to be even more imperative. Even for those who just use Facebook and other social media for personal communication, naming an online executor is something to consider.
Our Cobb County wills, trusts and probate law firm can help you get started in creating a digital asset protection plan that best meets your personal or business needs. For more information or to schedule a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, please give our office a call at 770-425-6060.