Making A Will That Refelcts Your Estate Goals

Serving clients throughout all of Georgia, The Manely Firm, P.C., is available to explain the differences between a living trust and a will and to help you decide which estate planning vehicle would best suit your individual or your family's needs.

Most folks know about and their basic purpose of a will in the estate planning process. This purpose is to make sure that your assets go to the correct beneficiaries when you die.

Why You Need A Will

Specifically, a will is a legal document in which you to name an executor to manage your estate after your death, to pay your debts from, and then to distribute, your assets to your named beneficiaries. If you die without a will, then the state of Georgia has a one-size-fits-all plan to decide for you who gets your property through the laws of intestacy.

What Wills Can Accomplish

But wills can be used for much more than simply deciding who gets a person's antiques or baseball collection. Some of the very important things a will can do include:

  1. State who gets what. Your will names which person, or group of people, who will receive particular items of property belonging to you when you pass away.
  2. Name guardians for your minor children. A will is the document that typically says who should raise your children if something happens to you. The will usually also sets out at least one alternate in case the first choice cannot serve. By naming a guardian for your minor child or children, you can avoid any potential conflicts that may arise between members of your family who cannot agree between themselves who should be your children's guardian. As the parent, you, and not the probate judge, are best suited to decide who you want to name as the guardian of your minor children. This choice may include deciding which of your family members or friends share your same values or who has the closest ties to your child or children.
  3. Establish testamentary trusts. You may not want someone to receive all of the property you are leaving for them at once. Or you may want your beneficiary to be able to use the property for a while, and then to pass it on to someone else. In that case, you may choose to use a trust. A trust holds property on someone else's behalf. When they are created in wills, these are testamentary trusts. These are often established for minor children, so that someone else can manage your child's money until he or she reaches a certain age when you believe he or she will be better able to manage it. Trusts are also often used in cases where there is a second marriage, that is, you may want your surviving spouse to have access to certain property while he or she is living, but then have that property ultimately pass your children. Trusts can help you achieve that goal.
  4. Set out your funeral wishes. This can be done in other documents as well, but a will often declares whether you want to be buried or cremated, and where your body should be buried or where your ashes should be spread. Your will can also include other information about your funeral wishes like where it should be held and even what music should be played or special words recited.
  5. Tax planning. Wills can be used to accomplish tax planning goals of avoiding federal estate taxes. These goals can also be achieved through setting up various trusts.
  6. Name your executors and trustees. In your will, you will choose who will be the executor of your estate. This is the person who will carry out your wishes as stated in the will. Your wills can also designate the trustees of any trusts you have established in your will. This is the person who will carry out the instructions contained in your trusts.

How Our Lawyers Can Help

Your will can be a powerful estate planning tool, but it is only effective if it is properly drafted to suit your individual needs, or the needs of your family. Your Georgia estate planning attorney can review, and educate you about, all of your options, and help you create a will in a way that makes sure your wishes will be honored after you are gone.

Remember: whether you die with a will or without one, your estate will have to go through the Georgia probate process, which is public, can be expensive and time consuming. It is a common misconception that having a will avoids the probate process. A will guarantees the probate process, because it has to be filed in the Probate Court to be given effect.

The only way to avoid probate in Georgia is with a well-drafted and fully funded living trust. The Manely Firm, P.C., can help you decided whether a will or a living trust is better for you and your family. Please call us today at 866-687-8561 for a complimentary Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session. Or, if you prefer, complete our online form.

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