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What Are the Different Types of Trusts in Georgia?

Posted by Joel Beck | Feb 09, 2024 | 0 Comments

As an Estate Planning Lawyer at Peach State Wills & Trusts, my goal is to help you navigate the intricacies of estate planning without overwhelming you with legal jargon. One essential aspect of estate planning in Georgia involves understanding the different types of trusts and how they can benefit you and your loved ones.

Understanding the Difference Between Wills and Trusts

Estate planning involves crucial decisions, and at the core of this process is understanding the distinction between wills and trusts. Each serves a unique purpose, and comprehending their differences empowers individuals to make informed choices that align with their specific needs and objectives.

A will is a foundational document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets after your passing. It serves as a comprehensive blueprint for the probate process, detailing who will inherit your property, who will manage the distribution (executor), and, if applicable, who will assume guardianship for minor children. Wills become effective only upon your death and are subject to probate—a legal process that validates the document and oversees the proper distribution of assets.


Key Features of Wills:

  • Probate Process: Wills typically go through probate, a court-supervised process that ensures the legality of the document and oversees asset distribution.

  • Guardianship Designation: Wills allow you to nominate guardians for minor children, ensuring their care aligns with your wishes.

  • Flexibility: Wills can be revised or revoked at any time during the testator's life, providing flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances.

  • A Will Might Include a Trust or Trusts: These Testamentary Trusts come into existence through the Will and create an ongoing entity for asset management if, per the terms of the Will, the trust is needed. More information about testamentary trusts is noted below.

Unlike wills, trusts that you create and fund during your lifetime, such as a revocable living trust, come into existence and effect during your lifetime and offer a dynamic approach to organizing and managing your assets. These types of trusts are called inter vivos trusts.  A trust is a legal entity that holds and manages your assets for the benefit of designated beneficiaries. Trusts can be revocable or irrevocable, each offering distinct advantages. These types of trusts generally bypass the probate process, providing a faster and more private means of asset distribution, and also allowing for easy management of the trust assets by a successor trustee should you become incapacitated.


Key Features of Inter Vivos (lifetime) Trusts:

  • Probate Avoidance: Trusts can facilitate the transfer of assets without undergoing probate, ensuring a more efficient and timely distribution process, with the added benefit of keeping things private and out of court.

  • Living Entity: These inter vivos trusts are active entities during your lifetime, allowing for ongoing management and adjustment of assets while you are alive, and following your death.

  • Asset Protection: Irrevocable trusts, in particular, provide a level of asset protection by removing assets from the taxable estate, minimizing exposure to creditors. Revocable living trusts don't provide asset protection to you during your life, but at your death they become irrevocable, and do provide some asset protection for your beneficiaries while assets remain in the trust.


Living Trusts: Ensuring Your Wishes Are Honored

A living trust, also known as a revocable trust, allows you to maintain control over your assets during your lifetime while seamlessly transferring them to your beneficiaries upon your passing. Unlike a will, a living trust avoids probate, offering a more efficient and private way of distributing your estate. To create a living trust, you need to transfer your assets into the trust, designating a trustee to manage them. This flexible tool can be adjusted or revoked as your circumstances change.


Special Needs Trusts: Securing the Future for Your Loved Ones

For families with individuals with special needs, a special needs trust, sometimes called a supplemental needs trust, can help ensure that the necessary financial support is in place without jeopardizing eligibility for government assistance programs. This trust allows you to provide for the care and well-being of your loved ones with special needs, addressing their unique requirements while maintaining their eligibility for essential benefits.


Testamentary Trusts: Tailoring Your Legacy

Unlike living trusts, testamentary trusts are established through your will and only come into effect upon your passing. This allows you to customize your estate plan, addressing specific concerns such as providing for minor children, charitable giving, or managing assets for beneficiaries who may need assistance. Understanding the intricacies of testamentary trusts is vital in ensuring your wishes are carried out precisely. For some, a downside of a testamentary trust is that it must be created through a Will that goes through the probate process in probate court.

Choosing the Right Trust for You

Choosing the right trust is a pivotal step in crafting an estate plan that aligns with your unique circumstances and aspirations. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we recognize that this decision involves a thoughtful evaluation of various factors, and our expertise lies in guiding you through this nuanced decision-making process.

  • Understanding Your Assets: The first crucial consideration is a comprehensive evaluation of your assets. Whether you possess a diverse portfolio, real estate holdings, or significant financial investments, the nature of your assets plays a pivotal role in determining the most suitable trust for your needs. Our team at Peach State Wills & Trusts is adept at conducting a thorough analysis of your financial landscape to identify the trust that aligns seamlessly with your asset profile.

  • Family Dynamics Matter: Estate planning is inherently tied to familial relationships. Assessing your family dynamics helps determine the provisions and structures that will best serve your loved ones. Whether you have minor children, dependents with special needs, or complex family structures, our goal is to tailor a trust that ensures the well-being and financial security of your family members in accordance with your wishes.

  • Long-Term Goals and Aspirations: Your estate planning decisions should be aligned with your long-term goals and aspirations. Whether you aim to preserve wealth for future generations, support charitable causes, or navigate specific legal considerations, the right trust can serve as a powerful tool to bring your vision to fruition. Peach State Wills & Trusts takes the time to understand your goals, providing expert guidance on the trust that aligns with your overarching objectives.

Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts for Personalized Guidance

Estate planning is a vital step in securing your legacy and providing for your loved ones. If you have questions about trusts or need assistance in planning for your specific circumstances in Georgia, contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at 678-344-5342 or online. Our experienced team is ready to help you navigate the complexities of estate planning, ensuring your wishes are honored. For additional insights, download our free guide on estate planning in Georgia—no strings attached. Plan for the future with confidence and peace of mind.

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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