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Family Trusts: Bringing Families Together In Georgia

Posted by Joel Beck | May 10, 2024 | 0 Comments

At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we're dedicated to helping families face the complexities of estate planning in Georgia. One powerful tool that can strengthen family bonds and provide peace of mind is the family trust. Let's delve into how family trusts work and why they benefit families in Georgia.

Understanding Family Trusts

Family trusts, also known as revocable living trusts, are legal entities created to hold and manage assets for the benefit of family members. Unlike wills, which only take effect upon your passing, family trusts become effective immediately upon creation. This allows you to transfer assets into the trust during your lifetime and continue managing them as the trustee. Upon death or incapacity, a successor trustee will manage and distribute the trust assets according to your instructions. Additionally, these trusts can be amended or revoked as long as you are still capable, providing flexibility to adapt to changes in your life or financial situation. Moreover, using a trust can provide privacy for your family, as the trust's details are not made public through probate court as a will would be.

Benefits of Family Trusts

Family trusts offer several advantages that make them an attractive option for estate planning: They provide a way to control the distribution of assets over time, which can be especially beneficial in cases where beneficiaries may not be ready or able to manage a lump-sum inheritance effectively.

  • Probate Avoidance: Assets held within a family trust bypass the probate process, saving time and money for your family while ensuring a smoother transition of assets to beneficiaries. For those people who want assets available to the family as soon as possible, or even immediately, avoiding probate is a key goal. Probates in Georgia generally take a minimum of six months, and that's assuming that everyone goes along and gets along and works together to get things done.  And, if you live in the metro Atlanta area where counties are heavily populated and courts are packed, factor in a few extra months due to the court's caseload.  

  • Privacy Protection: Unlike wills, which become public records upon probate, family trusts maintain privacy and confidentiality regarding asset distribution, protecting your family's financial affairs from public scrutiny.

  • Flexibility and Control: You have greater control over how and when assets are distributed to beneficiaries, allowing for customized instructions tailored to your family's needs and ensuring your wishes are carried out precisely.

  • Asset Protection: Assets held within a family trust may be shielded from creditors' claims, lawsuits, or divorce proceedings involving beneficiaries, providing added security for your family's wealth.

  • Continuity of Management: By appointing a successor trustee, you ensure seamless management of trust assets after your passing or incapacity, maintaining stability and continuity for your beneficiaries.

Family Trusts in Different Scenarios

Family trusts can be tailored to address various family dynamics and situations. They can include specific stipulations or conditions that reflect each beneficiary's unique needs and circumstances, ensuring a personalized approach to asset management and distribution.

  • Blended Families: Family trusts can ensure the fair distribution of assets among children from previous marriages, reducing the risk of conflicts. This type of planning is crucial to maintaining family harmony and ensuring that each child's financial needs and expectations are met.

  • Estate Tax Planning: Families with significant assets can use family trusts as part of an estate tax planning strategy to minimize tax liabilities. By adequately structuring a trust, assets can be transferred to beneficiaries in a way that reduces estate taxes and avoids probate.

  • Asset Protection: Families concerned about asset protection can use family trusts to safeguard wealth for future generations. Trusts can be designed to protect assets from creditors, legal judgments, or divorcing spouses, thereby preserving wealth for designated beneficiaries. Note that while asset protection for your beneficiaries is easier with trusts, asset protection for yourself generally requires your giving up ownership and control/authority over assets during your lifetime.  

  • Special Needs Planning: Family trusts can provide ongoing financial support for individuals with special needs while preserving eligibility for government benefits. Such trusts must be carefully structured to avoid disqualifying beneficiaries from receiving essential state and federal benefits like Medicaid or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at 678-344-5342 or online to learn how to plan for your family's future with a family trust in Georgia today. If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached. We're here to help you undergo the complexities of estate planning and create a customized plan that meets your family's unique needs and goals.

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).

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