What Happens to Your Assets in Georgia When You Don’t Leave a Will?

What Happens to Your Assets in Georgia When You Don’t Leave a Will?

georgia estate planning lawyer

 

You may not need an Atlanta GA estate planning lawyer to make a will (although that isn’t a wise decision), but what if you have no will at all? No one wants to think about their future demise, but death will be coming for all of us eventually. Without a will, what will become of your assets, your liabilities, and who will be the executor? Will any of your loved ones be left out in the cold?

Every state has its own specific set of laws, but by and large the basic rules are the same from state to state. A qualified Georgia estate planning lawyer is the best resource for uncovering what the laws are here.  For someone to inherit intestate, or when there is no will, he or she must be a legal relative. Generally speaking a spouse (or civil partner in some states) inherits it all if there are no children. If there are children, the spouse may receive as little as 1/3 of the estate, and the rest is divided among the children.

The specifics concerning separated spouses, stepchildren, etc. can make things even more complicated, but there is one constant: no one can profit from a death they caused. If there are allegations or proof of abuse or murder, that person may be prohibited from inheriting at all. This makes sense; not only is abuse wrong, but the government wants to make sure that no one is rewarded for murder.

In cases where there are minor children and the other parent is still living, an estate planning lawyer will tell you that what is left behind usually goes solely to the spouse, with the understanding that he or she will use it for the benefit and welfare of him or herself and the children. If there are considerable assets, a will and trust lawyer in Atlanta can then help the surviving spouse to create living trusts for the children.

Sometimes, there is no surviving spouse or children. In these cases, distant relatives may be eligible to inherit some or all of the assets left behind. In no case, however, are friends and people not related to the deceased allowed to inherit. These people can only inherit based on the specifics of a will, and with no will, they have no claim.

Some assets aren’t passed along via a will, and so these items may also have clear beneficiaries listed on the specific documents.

  • Life insurance policy proceeds
  • Real estate, bank accounts, and other property held in joint tenancy or community property
  • IRA funds, or other retirement plans that name a beneficiary
  • Any funds held in a living trust

Perhaps the strangest thing that probate lawyers in Atlanta see is when there are no living family members and no will. When this happens, the assets are given to the state. If you want to make sure that your property is passed along to a friend or charity, be sure to make a will, because otherwise it goes to Uncle Sam.

Estate planning is very important, and your best bet is to hire an estate planning lawyer who has specific knowledge in this area of law. Each state has laws that change when and how people can inherit if you leave your estate intestate. So, do your loved ones a favor and leave a will. This way you can make sure that your estate is divided as you want it to be, without it going back to the government.

Estate Planning for Single Parents in Marietta and Cobb County GA

Estate Planning for Single Parents in Marietta and Cobb County GA

single momSingle 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.