Handling a Vacation Home In Wills and Trusts Administration in Cobb County

Handling a Vacation Home In Wills and Trusts Administration in Cobb County

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.

Writing Your Own Obituary | Will Lawyers in Atlanta

Writing Your Own Obituary | Will Lawyers in Atlanta

pen and paper

 

Working with a will lawyer in Atlanta can bring up some uncomfortable feelings.  Those of us in this area of law are very aware of the fact that many people avoid important planning for this very reason.  After all, there aren’t a whole lot of people who want to contemplate their own demise, let alone the feelings of those left behind.

Writing your own obituary can actually be kind of a cathartic experience that helps with the estate planning process.  It gives you an opportunity to reflect on your own life, as well as to help shape how you will be remembered.  It also takes some of the burden off of those who are left behind that might not be up to writing such an intense piece in the middle of grieving.  You can write your obituary and have your will lawyer in Atlanta keep it in your file so that it is ready to go when it is needed.

What to Include

You don’t necessarily have to write a full obituary if you don’t want, but it’s a good idea to at least make a list of some key points to make it easier on the person who does the actual writing later.  The guidelines for obituaries vary depending on where they will be published.  Many funeral homes will place them on their web sites free of charge, but newspapers will charge for including them.  A will lawyer in Atlanta will be able to tell you what local outlets expect when it comes to length and cost.

Some of the things that you may want to include are:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Education and employment background
  • Military service
  • Achievements and awards
  • Family information regarding children, grandchildren, spouses, and parents
  • Hobbies and interests
  • A photo you would like used

In addition, you may want to include your wishes regarding memorials.  If you’d like flowers sent to the church or funeral home, for instance, you can include that.  It’s common for people to request that donations be made to a favorite charity “in lieu of flowers,” too.

Again, you may prefer not to write the entire obituary yourself, rather you may choose to just include this information in your documents so that your family and friends have it to refer to when they create the obituary after your death.  If you do choose to write your own, you may want to review it with your Atlanta will lawyer every once in a while to ensure that it is kept up to date and reflects any recent changes.

For more information and resources on how to write your own obituary, please see this article on YourTribute.com. If you would like to begin to write your own obituary we recommend that you download an obituary template and read these articles on writing obituaries for more helpful advice.

Image courtesy of Pong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Your Georgia Last Will and Testament Really Does

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You finally got around to making a will, so now you can rest easy.

You went online, found the forms, filled them out and you’re done.  If anything happens to you, your loved ones are taken care of. 

One less thing to worry about, right?

As an Atlanta and Marietta, GA wills and estate planning lawyer, I hate to cause you more sleepless nights, but just having a will is not the “be all and end all” of planning your estate.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about what your will actually does and doesn’t do:

This is What A Sound Georgia Will Actually Does

Your will distributes property that you own at the time of your death.  You can divide up your property any way you choose as long as your state doesn’t prevent you from disinheriting a spouse or children.  If you intend to do either of those things, you need to talk to a lawyer and make sure it’s even legal.  If you have property that would legally pass outside your estate (things like joint property, life insurance, or retirement plans), you will does not provide for how those assets are distributed unless you’ve made them payable to your estate.  Additional estate planning documents are required in order to do that.

Needless to say, there are various types of wills and they can be incredibly simple or terribly complex.  A very simple will is called exactly that – a simple will.  A will that establishes trusts is usually called a testamentary trust will.  If your will leaves assets to a trust created during your lifetime, it is called a pour-over will.  If you have either a testamentary trust will or a pour-over will, it should provide for property management and protection from creditors for your heirs and minimize their tax obligations on whatever property they inherit. 

Aside from creating trusts and distributing property, you can also designate a guardian for your minor children. If your will is properly written and you’ve set up the right kind of trust and chosen the right trustee to handle your minor child’s estate, the need for court supervision will be limited or even eliminated.  The same could hold true if you name an executor.  Check with an attorney to ensure that you’re taking full advantage of the laws in your state and that these designations are made in accordance with those laws.

What Your Georgia Will Does Not Do

If you have any nonprobate property, such as real estate that would pass to a surviving owner, or an IRA or insurance policy payable to a named beneficiary, your will does not determine how those assets are passed on.  These types of assets are governed by contract law.  Just because you list them in your will does not ensure that they will be handled as you’ve requested.  Always make sure that your beneficiary designations are up to date and in line with your intentions. 

Other types of nonprobate property you will want to account for are any jointly owned property, trusts, annuities, and retirement benefits and life insurance, to name a few. 

Makes filling out a form online and thinking you can sleep better at night a little less appealing, doesn’t it?  A simple piece of paper will not necessarily ensure that everyone gets what you want them to have and that Uncle Sam doesn’t take more of what you’ve worked for than your loved ones receive.

If you would like an expert opinion on exactly how effective your current will is, or advice on actually drafting a will, call us to schedule your Peace of Mind Planning Session today.  We can help ensure you take the right steps to take care of your loved ones if something happens to you. 

Also, as part of our estate planning process, we will interview you about your specific wishes and what you want your family to know.  We provide you with a copy of the interview so you can pass on the information you want your family to remember.  We understand that it’s not just about the paper you leave behind, but the voice you leave behind.  Our Family Wealth Planning Session is normally $750, but this month I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session with me at no charge.  Call today and mention this article. 

Cobb County GA Probate Lawyer Discusses What Your Will Really Does

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By Steve Worrall, Cobb County GA Probate Lawyer

You finally got around to making a will, so now you can rest easy.

You went online, found the forms, filled them out and you’re done.  If anything happens to you, your loved ones are taken care of.

One less thing to worry about, right?

I hate to cause you more sleepless nights, but I can say as a Cobb County GA probate lawyer that just having a will is not the “be all and end all” of planning your estate.

Let’s clear up a few misconceptions about what your will actually does and doesn’t do:

This is What A Sound Will Actually Does

Your will distributes property that you own at the time of your death.  You can divide up your property any way you choose as long as your state doesn’t prevent you from disinheriting a spouse or children.  If you intend to do either of those things, you need to talk to a Cobb County GA probate lawyer and make sure it’s even legal.  If you have property that would legally pass outside your estate (things like joint property, life insurance, or retirement plans), you will does not provide for how those assets are distributed unless you’ve made them payable to your estate.  Additional estate planning documents are required in order to do that.

Needless to say, there are various types of wills and they can be incredibly simple or terribly complex.  A very simple will is called exactly that – a simple will.  A will that establishes trusts is usually called a testamentary trust will.  If your will leaves assets to a trust created during your lifetime, it is called a pour-over will.  If you have either a testamentary trust will or a pour-over will, it should provide for property management and protection from creditors for your heirs and minimize their tax obligations on whatever property they inherit.

Aside from creating trusts and distributing property, you can also designate a guardian for your minor children. If your will is properly written and you’ve set up the right kind of trust and chosen the right trustee to handle your minor child’s estate, the need for court supervision will be limited or even eliminated.  The same could hold true if you name an executor.  Check with a Cobb County GA probate lawyer to ensure that you’re taking full advantage of the laws in your state and that these designations are made in accordance with those laws.

What Your Will Does Not Do

If you have any nonprobate property, such as real estate that would pass to a surviving owner, or an IRA or insurance policy payable to a named beneficiary, your will does not determine how those assets are passed on.  These types of assets are governed by contract law.  Just because you list them in your will does not ensure that they will be handled as you’ve requested.  Always make sure that your beneficiary designations are up to date and in line with your intentions.

Other types of nonprobate property you will want to account for are any jointly owned property, trusts, annuities, and retirement benefits and life insurance, to name a few.

Makes filling out a form online and thinking you can sleep better at night a little less appealing, doesn’t it?  A simple piece of paper will not necessarily ensure that everyone gets what you want them to have and that Uncle Sam doesn’t take more of what you’ve worked for than your loved ones receive.

If you would like an expert opinion on exactly how effective your current will is, or advice on actually drafting a will, call us at (770) 425-6060 to schedule your Peace of Mind Planning Session today.  We can help ensure you take the right steps to take care of your loved ones if something happens to you.

Also, as part of our estate planning process, we will interview you about your specific wishes and what you want your family to know.  We provide you with a copy of the interview so you can pass on the information you want your family to remember.  We understand that it’s not just about the paper you leave behind, but the voice you leave behind.  Our Peace of Mind Planning Session is normally $750, but this month I’ve made space for the next two people who mention this article to have a complete planning session with me at no charge.  Call today and mention this article.

Check The Oil, Rotate the Tires, and Update Your Estate Plan, Says Marietta GA Wills Lawyer

Marietta, Cobb County (Atlanta) family estate planning lawyer Steve Worrall discusses how your estate plan is like a car and needs regular updates and maintenance. He also lists some key life events that might trigger the need for that review, like these:

•    You marry, divorce or separate
•    You or your spouse's health declines
•    Your spouse dies
•    Your value of assets changes dramatically
•    You have a change in business interests
•    You buy real estate in another state
•    You have a Birth or adoption
•    A Parent or relative becomes dependent on you
•    A minor child becomes adult
•    Federal or state tax laws change
•    You plan to move to a different state
•    Your successor trustee, guardian or administrator moves, becomes ill or changes mind
•    You change your mind about any of the above for whatever reason

Make sure your lawyer includes the costs for quick questions about your plan in the fee and that your lawyer offers a no-cost review of your plan at least every 3 years.