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Griffin Georgia Law Blog

How homeowners can sell their homes fast in Georgia

Many homeowners are surprised at the amount of effort it takes to sell a home in Georgia. Some are shocked when their homes sit on the market for months or when their home sells for less than market value. However, by following a few guidelines, homeowners can sell their homes quickly and for over market value.

Many real estate agents advise that prep work is the key to selling real estate fast. Some agents walk through a house with prospective homeowners before the home is listed to find areas that are in need of renovations. At this stage, homeowners should resist the urge to be sentimental about the home and view it objectively as a commodity to be sold. Once the homeowner completes all necessary renovations, then the agent can arrange furniture in the home that most effectively showcases the home's positive attributes.

Interested parties and contesting wills

When a Georgia resident contests a will, the issue of who can be an interested party as it concerns the estate of the decedent is likely to arise. It is not an issue that can be as easily addressed as it may seem. The number of interested parties may be many more than the petitioner of the will contest may have assumed. This is because interested parties are not limited to the parties who are recorded in the will.

All of the family members of the decedent are considered either actual parties or interested parties; it does not matter if they are listed or not listed as beneficiaries in the will. All of the surviving family members, as well as the parties who are included in the current will that has been submitted for probate, are considered interested parties who can take part in the litigation.

Digital assets and estate planning

People can use an estate plan to ensure that their assets are handled according to their wishes. However, assets can include more than just traditional liquid money and real property, As the world becomes more digitalized, Georgia residents should make sure that their estate planning also addresses digital assets.

When it comes to estate planning, there are a number of difficulties that can arise with digital assets. For starters, it can be difficult to locate digital assets online. When they are located, access to the online assets can be difficult. It is generally necessary to know the username and password that protects them in order to gain access. There are also complications with the ownership of online assets, which may not be defined as well as rights to traditional assets.

Trusts can provide an important solution for parents

Many people in Georgia want to ensure that their children are provided for in the future. At the same time, they may worry about how young, irresponsible or financially inexperienced children will handle significant amounts of wealth after a sudden inheritance. Many people have experienced financial disaster after acquiring large sums of money quickly and lose their assets as a result. This is one reason why parents may look for estate planning solutions that can impose protections as part of the transfer of assets, especially for beneficiaries who are particularly likely to overspend and lose their wealth.

Trusts can be a primary mechanism that enable people to pass on wealth while building in protections. A spendthrift trust or asset protection trust can be created while a person is living or after their death, either through the will or other testamentary documents. The trustee is given significant discretion to provide the beneficiaries with access to the income and principal of the trust without turning over full access to the principal of the trust itself. This is similar to the structure often used when transferring gifts to minors, but it can be used when giving money to a person who is known to be financially impetuous or unreliable.

What happens if I die without a will?

Many people do not have wills and may wonder if they really need one. While the decision to draft a will or not is a personal one, many arguments for having a will come down to the amount of choice you want to have over what happens to your property after your death.

Dying without a legally valid will is called dying intestate. This means that Georgia's intestacy succession laws will govern who will inherit from your estate. Your wishes will not be a factor when determining where your assets go.

The benefits of short sales

In real estate, a short sale is when a homeowner sells their property for less than what they owe on the mortgage. The word "short" comes from the idea that the seller is short on the cash needed to pay off their loan. While these types of sales spike during bad economic times, especially the last housing crash around 2008, they tend to be rare in Georgia when the economy is growing and housing prices are rising.

When a buyer attempts to sell their home for less than what they owe, they need approval with their lender before the sale can proceed. Banks will only agree to a short-sale status if they believe it's the best way to recoup part of their investment. Sellers should expect to file a variety of forms and documents, and they should expect an appraiser from the bank to evaluate the true value of their property.

Creating an estate plan for the New Year

Georgia residents who do not have an estate plan might want to consider creating one in the new year. The first step is to review and make a list of all assets in the estate. If there are any issues with asset titles or other ownership problems, these should be resolved. One can then create a will or trusts and choose who will receive assets. Without these documents, those assets will be distributed based on state laws.

In addition, some assets are passed using beneficiary designations, and these should be reviewed and updated as well. Life insurance is one of those assets. An estate owner who does not have a policy might want to consider getting one. Payment from a life insurance policy can help support dependents. Long-term care and disability insurance can pay toward nursing care or replace income in case of a catastrophic accident or illness.

Steps for creating and reviewing an estate plan

Almost any Georgia adult could benefit by creating an estate plan. This is true regardless of a person's monetary status as such a plan can account for more than just the transfer of assets. For example, it could also determine who would be reponsible for a minor child in the event that a parent became incapacitated or died suddenly.

An estate plan should name an individual to act as a medical and financial agent. It is also a good idea to create a durable power of attorney to oversee property in the event a person becomes incapacitated. Without this power of attorney, not even a spouse may be allowed to sell assets to raise funds to pay for medical care or pay other bills. The only exception would be if an asset was jointly owned by a married couple.

Life insurance as an estate planning tool for Georgia boomers

As members of the wealthiest generation in American history, baby boomers in Georgia understandably want to pass some of their hard-earned assets along to certain heirs. Boomers are also living longer, which means they're often seeking effective long-term estate management and planning solutions. Luckily, there are several life insurance products that can meet many of the needs of a generation whose youngest members are now in their mid-50s.

Life insurance can play an especially important role in estate planning when there is a need to access cash, or liquidity, after death. Needs of this nature typically include final expenses involving unpaid debts, funeral costs and outstanding medical obligations as well as probating and administering fees. Federal and state estate taxes that would otherwise take away from assets meant to be passed along to loved ones may also be taken care of with life insurance payouts.

How to estate plan when a marriage is over

Georgia residents should review their estate plans after major life events such as divorce. This can help a person make sure that neither the spouse or the spouse's family is still a part of the plan. In addition to making changes to a will, it may also be necessary to make changes to a trust or to beneficiary designations. Beneficiary designations are typically used to transfer real property, bank accounts or other financial assets.

In many cases, a person will name his or her spouse to be a health care proxy or financial power of attorney. After a divorce, the ex might not be the best choice to fill those roles. Therefore, it is a good idea to review these documents and make changes if necessary. It may be worthwhile to review the plan with an attorney following a divorce. Doing so could minimize the chances of making changes that might be prohibited under state law.

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