In Georgia, like anywhere else, drafting a detailed and comprehensive will is a crucial aspect of estate planning. This process involves deciding who will inherit your assets after your passing. But should you list all of your assets in your will? While this may seem like an obvious choice, the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. Essentially, it depends on the type of assets you possess, their value, and the specific rules governing estate management in Georgia. Also, it is important to understand that a will is just one component of a robust estate plan; it should work in tandem with other tools like trusts, joint tenancy, and beneficiary designations.
Factors Affecting Asset Inclusion in a Will
The primary purpose of a will is to provide clear instructions on how your assets should be distributed. However, not all of your assets need to be listed in a will, and there are good reasons for that.
Certain types of property, such as those owned jointly with rights of survivorship, life insurance proceeds, and retirement account funds, automatically pass to the surviving co-owner or designated beneficiaries. Also, if you have a living trust, any assets held in the trust will bypass the probate process. Therefore, these assets do not need to be specifically mentioned in your will. However, other assets that do not have a designated beneficiary or are not held in trust, like vehicles, art, jewelry, and other personal possessions, should be included in your will to ensure they are distributed according to your wishes.
However, while you need a plan to ultimately distribute all of your assets, it is impractical to have a will written for you that outlines each and every asset you own. If we could do that, it may very quickly become out of date if you sell or give away an asset, and acquire something else. Likewise, we don't need to typically detail each financial account you have, as there is no guarantee that you would still have those accounts when you die, as you may have exhausted those funds, or may have changed banks, for example. That's why we make specific mention of certain assets you want to go to a specific person, and then also include a catch-all provision to dispose of your residuary estate. This also has the significant benefit of not requiring you to update your will every month or year when your assets change.
The Role of a "Catch-all" Provision
A "catch-all" provision, or residuary clause, in your will acts as a safety net for any assets not explicitly listed or those acquired post-will creation, ensuring they're distributed as per your wishes. This provision is particularly useful when life changes occur, such as marriage, divorce, or significant asset acquisition. However, it doesn't replace the need for regular will updates to align with your evolving circumstances. Balancing this "catch-all" provision with specific bequests in your will helps to prevent potential disputes among heirs. In essence, this provision is a vital tool in estate planning, guaranteeing that all of your assets are managed according to your desires, even amidst life's unpredictability.
Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts Today
Estate planning can feel overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we guide you through the process, ensuring your assets and loved ones are protected. Contact us at 678-344-5342 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 attached. Your peace of mind is our priority.