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How Do Living Trusts Compare To Wills For Estate Planning In Georgia?

Posted by Joel Beck | Jun 21, 2024 | 0 Comments

How Do Living Trusts Compare To Wills For Estate Planning In Georgia?

 

At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we often receive questions about the differences between living trusts and wills. Both tools are crucial in estate planning but serve distinct purposes and offer unique benefits. Let's explore how living trusts compare to wills for estate planning in Georgia and help you determine which option might be best for you and your family.

 

What Is a Will?

A will, formally known as a last will and testament, is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of any minor children upon your death. A will takes effect only after you pass away and must go through the probate process to be validated and executed. Key components of a will:

 

  • Executor Appointment: The will allows you to designate an executor who will manage your estate, ensure your debts are paid, and distribute your assets according to your wishes.

  • Asset Distribution: You can specify who will receive your property, including personal belongings, real estate, and financial assets.

  • Guardianship of Minors: If you have minor children, you can appoint a guardian to care for them.

  • Funeral Arrangements: Some people include instructions for their funeral and burial preferences.

 

What Is a Living Trust?

A living trust, also known as a revocable living trust, is a legal entity you create during your lifetime to hold and manage your assets. Unlike a will, a living trust takes effect as soon as it is created and can continue to function even if you become incapacitated. Key components of a living trust:

 

  • Trustee Appointment: You appoint a trustee to manage the trust. You can serve as the trustee during your lifetime and appoint a successor trustee to take over after your death or if you become incapacitated.

  • Asset Management: Assets placed in the trust are managed according to the trust document's terms, which can be amended or revoked during your lifetime.

  • Avoiding Probate: One of the main advantages of a living trust is that it allows the assets in the trust to bypass the probate process, which can be time-consuming and costly.

  • Privacy: Unlike a will, which becomes a public document during probate, a living trust remains private.

 

Comparing Wills and Living Trusts

Both wills and living trusts are valuable estate planning tools, but they offer different advantages and disadvantages. Here's a closer look at how they compare in key areas.

Probate Process

  • Will: A will must go through probate, a court-supervised process that validates the will and oversees the distribution of assets. Probate can be lengthy and expensive, potentially taking a minimum of six months to years.

  • Living Trust: Assets in a living trust bypass probate, allowing for quicker and more private distribution of assets.

Control and Flexibility

  • Will: A will is relatively straightforward to create and modify. However, it only takes effect upon your death and does not provide management of your assets if you become incapacitated.

  • Living Trust: A living trust offers greater flexibility and control. You can manage the assets in the trust during your lifetime and appoint a successor trustee to manage them if you become incapacitated.

Cost and Complexity

  • Will: Generally, creating a will is less expensive and less complex than creating a living trust. However, the probate process can incur significant costs and delays.

  • Living Trust: Establishing a living trust can be more costly and complex initially, but it can save time and money by avoiding probate.

Privacy

  • Will: Because a will goes through probate, it becomes a public record, which means the details of your will and certain information concerning the distribution of your assets are accessible to the public.

  • Living Trust: A living trust remains private, and the details of your estate and asset distribution are not disclosed to the public.

 

Steps to Establishing a Will or Living Trust

If you're considering creating a will or living trust, here are some steps to help you get started:

 

  • Assess Your Estate: Inventory your assets, including real estate, personal property, financial accounts, and any other significant assets. This will help you determine the best estate planning strategy for your needs.

  • Define Your Goals: Consider what you want to achieve with your estate plan. Are you primarily concerned with avoiding probate, ensuring privacy, or managing your assets during incapacity? Your goals will guide your decision.

  • Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney: Working with an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand your options and create a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs. An attorney can also help you undergo the legal requirements and ensure your documents are properly executed.

  • Create and Execute Your Documents: Once you've decided on a will or living trust, work with your attorney to draft and execute the necessary documents. Review and update your estate plan regularly to reflect any changes in your circumstances or wishes.

 

Contact Us for Estate Planning Guidance

 

At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we understand that estate planning can be complex and overwhelming. We're here to help you understand the process and create a plan that protects your assets and ensures your wishes are carried out. Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at 678-344-5342 or online to learn how to plan for your estate in Georgia today. If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here; no strings are attached. We're committed to providing friendly, professional, and approachable legal services to help you with all your estate planning needs.

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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At Peach State Wills and Trusts, a division of The Beck Law Firm, LLC, we're committed to answering your questions about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, uncontested probate, and business planning issues in Georgia.

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