Questions about Estate Planning

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According to the state of Georgia, anyone over the age of 14 can make an estate plan. For adults, it is never too early to begin thinking about your wishes and plans for your property. As you go through major events throughout your life, such as getting married, having a child, or buying a house, it is important to continually revisit your estate plan.

With legal assistance, a proper estate plan can protect your loved ones and secure your life’s work. For instance, the attorneys at Sparks Law can help business owners create plans for their business interests and company succession in the event of retirement, injury, or death. However, an estate plan is not one size fits all. Below, our legal team answers some questions about estate planning, but those who wish to learn more should give us a call and set up a consultation.

How Do I Leave Property for Children?

If someone passes away and leaves children under the age of 18, they cannot legally have access to estate money. In this scenario, the court would appoint a guardian ad litem to protect the children’s interests during the probate process. This is true even if a Will establishes the children as designated heirs.

The assets would likely need to be held in a custodial account or a Trust until the heirs become adults. A knowledgeable attorney could walk you through your estate planning options for passing property to your children.

Does a Will Have to Go to Probate?

Probate allows a nominated representative in a Will to take control of the estate and administer it. The probate court must first validate the document and allow any interested parties to challenge it. This could occur if someone suspects fraud, such undue influence on the testator or the existence of a newer version.

If someone has a Will and gave Living Power of Attorney to the executor, the document still needs to go to probate court upon their passing. The Power of Attorney only takes effect during the person’s life. However, any assets that are titled jointly can pass to the surviving owner and avoid probate.

Should I Make a Trust for Jointly Held Assets?

This depends on the type of asset. For instance, a jointly owned home with rights of survivorship would pass on to the surviving owner upon the other one’s death. However, a Trust may still make sense in case the two owners pass around the same time. Trusts are also useful for dealing with business interests in a jointly owned company.

Even if there are by sale provisions already set up in the operating or shareholder agreement, it is still beneficial to establish a Trust. Passing on business interests through a Trust allows you to avoid probate and ensure that the status quo of the business is not interrupted. If you are required to probate a business holder’s interest, you may have to freeze company operations for six months to a year.

Ask Our Lawyers about Estate Planning

There are many more estate planning options besides Wills and Trusts, and these questions do not cover nearly every scenario that could arise. If you want to set up a plan that will achieve your goals for the future and protect your loved ones, reach out to Sparks Law today. We are happy to answer any specific questions you may have about the estate planning process and help determine an effective strategy for your situation.