Wills and trusts administration lawyers in Cobb County, Georgia, often have the opportunity to work with local families who—in addition to planning for their regular home—also have a vacation home to take into consideration during the planning process. While you might think that real estate prices or the vacation home’s location would be the driving forces behind putting it through the wills and trusts administration process, there are actually other, highly compelling reasons.
Vacation homes don’t just come with the baggage you pack to spend a family holiday on the lake, in the woods, or on the coast; they also come with a lot of emotional history. By working with a wills and trusts administration lawyer, those leaving the vacation home behind can take this history into consideration. They may be best served to really spend some time taking their heirs’ perspectives into consideration when determining how the home should be handled.
For some family members, the vacation home may be an important part of family history, full of memories and personal rites of passage. These folks might prefer that the property be safeguarded in some sort of trust or passed as-is to heirs in a will. On the other hand, there may be family members who are less emotionally attached to the home and see it as their parents’ investment in a stable financial future. These family members would be more inclined to sell the property and share the proceeds.
There are plenty of other aspects of the situation that the original owners would want to explore with a wills and trusts administration lawyer in Marietta GA. For example, would any potential heirs be financially able to maintain the property, pay taxes on it, etc? If not, then it may be time to consider either selling the vacation home or finding a means to fund the trust so it can meet these obligations.
Other thoughts to keep in mind:
- Do heirs live close enough to the vacation home to actually use it?
- Could you leave the vacation home to those who would most appreciate it and balance that with a different inheritance for others?
- Is there someone you could name as a trustee who could oversee the property on behalf of the trust?
- Would it be possible for some family members to buy others out of their portion of the property?
- Could the property be rented out when not in use by family members as a way to support its own upkeep?
Because there are so many variables that can come into play—money, grief, family tension, tradition, etc., etc., dealing with a vacation property during estate planning is something that is probably best done under the guidance of an experienced wills and trusts administration lawyer in Marietta.
For additional questions about estate planning or wills and trust administration in Georgia or to speak with a will or trust lawyer, contact our office at 770-421-0808 for assistance.
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.
This is the second in a series of articles on what to expect when you work with your Atlanta will and trust lawyer. Each article will cover several of the topics that you will need to consider to make a plan that works for your needs.
Our last article looked at several things you will need to consider and prepare when working with your will and trust lawyer in Atlanta. Today’s article continues on with additional considerations that are generally important upon death.
- Wills and Trusts: Estate planning lawyers are focused on helping you craft just the right kinds of wills and trusts for your needs. (And, no, trusts are not just for super-rich people.) These documents will be used to explain your wishes for what is to happen with your assets when you die and will be used to protect your estate or heirs from paying unnecessary taxes on what you are leaving behind.
- Funeral Arrangements: Your Atlanta will and trust lawyer will likely encourage you to make funeral arrangements as part of the planning process. Planning for one’s own funeral isn’t always the most enjoyable task (although some folks do find it cathartic). On the other hand, taking care of arrangements in advance takes a big burden off of your family and friends and helps to ensure that things happen the way you would have wanted.
- Organ Donation: Medical science has progressed to the point where many organs and tissues of deceased individuals can be used to give the living a new lease on life. Your Atlanta will and trust lawyer can go over these possibilities with you and help you put the proper documentation in order if organ or tissue donation is something you want to do.
- Obituary: Oftentimes, an obituary is written by a close friend or relative after someone has passed away. You can actually write your own in advance, saving them from doing so during their grief and making sure that you get to highlight the events and achievements from your life that were most important to you. Keep in mind that obituaries are not typically published for free, so your estate plan may also set aside some money to pay for the placement of the piece.
- Health Care Directives: Your health care directives are an incredibly important part of working with a will and trust lawyer in Atlanta, and you need to be sure that they’re not only in order, but also available to those who need them. These documents will include information on your choices about medical treatment, as well as end-of-life decisions that you have already made.
By working with a reputable will and trust lawyer in Atlanta, you can make sure that all of these areas are considered and that they fall under the laws and codes of Georgia. For more information or help getting started, please feel free to call our office at 770-425-6060 to schedule a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session ($750 value) with the mention of this article.
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There are a lot of reasons to consider setting up trusts for your children, but trust and estates lawyers in Atlanta see far too many cases where this just isn’t done. One of the biggest reasons for not setting up a trust could be that you just don’t think you have enough assets to warrant one. We hear about “trust fund babies” and automatically think of the super wealthy, not regular folks like ourselves.
Really, though, even those in the middle class should be thinking about setting up trusts for their children. Even if you don’t have a lot of extra money lying around, you have other assets that can quickly add up in value. Add to that the payout from a life insurance policy, and you suddenly realize that you have quite a bit of financial worth that might be left behind to children who are not ready to handle it. Anything more than about $100,000 is reasonable to consider putting into a trust for children here in Atlanta
What Does the Trust Do?
When you set up a trust with your trust and estates lawyer in Atlanta, you will discover that there are many different ways to use this tool. One of the most important benefits of a trust is that it allows you to stipulate how your children will use the money you leave behind. If your intention is for your kids to use the money for college, but they want to use it to buy a sports car instead, what’s to stop them?
In your case, the trust is what can stop them. You can implement restrictions on how the money is spent. You can, for example, determine that the funds in the trust are designated for specific functions, such as paying for education or day-to-day expenses. In some cases, there is a designated adult to help keep things on track, although this person must be chosen wisely. In other cases, the parent sets age limits on the trust, assuring that the children don’t have access to the money until they have more time to mature.
Protecting the Trust
Another reason to consider a trust is to protect your children’s money from misuse by the adult in charge of the funds. In the case of a “custodial” account, the person in charge can have a lot more say in how the money is spent. This could translate into frivolous expenses, including paying himself or herself an unrealistic amount to “manage” the funds. With a trust, however, the person in charge (the “trustee”) is held more accountable and is required to follow your wishes.
If the trustee does manage the funds poorly, it is also possible that your child would have some legal recourse, as the trust is a legal contract.
Talk to an Atlanta Trust and Estates Lawyer
The best way to determine if a trust is right for you and family is to talk to an Atlanta trust and estates lawyer. Our attorneys are available to sit down with you at no-charge to review your estate plan and consider how a trust or other estate planning tools can best meet your needs. To schedule a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, simply call 770.425.6060 and mention this article.
Single parents tend to work hard for their children, so it’s no wonder that those in Marietta and Cobb County want to protect the children they would leave behind should the adult be killed or become incapacitated. Every day it falls to the single parent to provide just about everything for his or her children, and with 13 million single parent households in the US, there are a whole lot of folks doing their best to provide everything their children need today. Working with a Marietta Georgia guardianship lawyer is the right step to make sure they are also provided for in the future.
As a single parent, your estate plan may look different from that of a married parent. In those cases, there are laws in place to ensure that both property and custody have a means of passing to the surviving spouse. In your case, however, the courts would determine your next of kin and disperse your property, as well as appoint a guardian, based on Georgia state laws. While it’s great that there are laws like this to rely on when a single parent dies with no will in place, it’s not necessarily such a wonderful thing if the person/people named are not those you would have chosen yourself.
For example, it’s quite common for grandparents to be given custody of a child upon the parent’s death. In many families, that would be the perfect choice. In others, however, a better choice could be made. Perhaps there has been a falling out between family members, or it’s possible that the grandparents are either too old or just otherwise not in the right place in their lives to be starting over raising children.
Clearly, appointing a guardian for your child or children is one of the most pressing issues for which to see an estate planning attorney in Marietta or Cobb County. It’s not the only one, though. This lawyer can also help you to create a financial plan which can help support your child even if you aren’t there. You might be advised to look into a life insurance policy or to participate in a Georgia college savings plan. Likely, a guardianship lawyer in Marietta will also help you to create a trust or trusts which can not only protect some of the money from being heavily taxed, but also give you some say over how the money is to be used and by whom.
An estate planning attorney will also help you to make sure that everything is in order. He or she will ask you about bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, and even military service, as all of these can possibly be directed to the care of your child or children. Every family, no matter what the marital status is, is unique. With the help of a Marietta estate planning lawyer, you can put together a plan that works for your specific situation.