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Griffin Georgia Law Blog

Philanthropic giving as part of an estate plan

Estate planning in Georgia sometimes goes beyond bequeathing family keepsakes and distributing accumulated assets among loved ones. Some individuals in the Peach State make arrangements to continue philanthropic giving even after they pass. From taking advantage of potential tax benefits to wishing to establish or continue a family legacy, there are many reasons to make charitable giving part of the wealth management and estate planning process when working with an attorney.

The recommended first step with estate planning that involves philanthropic causes is to select specific charities. Some individuals prefer to base this decision on causes that they have a history of supporting while others opt to focus on how they want to be remembered. Once philanthropic goals have been set, the next step for charitable individuals is to decide which assets they want to give now or after they pass.

Is it time to downsize?

Many people see retirement as a time to relax. After working for many years, you might want to pursue old hobbies, travel or just kick your feet up and live stress-free. Part of this might also be rethinking your living situation. If you are thinking about retirement or are already retired, you might also be thinking about downsizing.

Downsizing presents many potential benefits, but it might not be right for everyone and you might not know when the right time is to go through with it.

What to know about foreclosed properties

When buying a foreclosed home in Georgia, it is important to know as much about the property as possible. In most cases, a buyer will acquire the property in an as-is condition. This means that the buyer assumes responsibility for any upgrades or other work that needs to be done on it. It is possible that the previous owner of the property intentionally damaged it just prior to being forced to leave.

Therefore, it is a good idea to have the property inspected to determine the scope of the repairs needed. Those who purchase a foreclosed home should exercise patience as they have little control over when the transaction will close. There may also be situations in which conflicts between multiple lien holders slow down the closing process. If a home has been neglected in the past, it is important to take into account the cost of repairs.

Will drafting and preventing future family drama

Many Georgia residents elect to pass their properties to their heirs after death through a will. Unfortunately, disputes among surviving relatives about the intent of the deceased are quite common. There are several steps a person can take when drafting a will to help prevent problems from arising.

One of the first things a person who is drafting a will should do is think about who he or she wants to name as the executor, who is the individual responsible for ensuring the execution of the will. This is a great responsibility, especially when there is a large estate and multiple heirs. It is important that a person take into account a potential executor's personal characteristics, such as how organized or responsible he or she is.

What to consider when buying property with other people

Georgia residents may believe that it is a good idea to buy a home with a friend or sibling. However, there are issues to consider before signing an agreement to purchase real estate with other people. For example, creditors could put liens on the home if another person in the group is past due on a loan payment or tax bill. Furthermore, everyone in the group should be realistic about how much they can afford to pay.

Everyone in the group should be ready to pay the entire mortgage if necessary. Anyone who is on a mortgage can experience the same credit consequences if a payment is late or not made at all. It is also a good idea to talk about who is responsible for utility and other payments related to the property. There should also be some idea as to who will be responsible for maintaining the home or for paying a professional to provide cleaning or maintenance services.

Important functions of an estate plan

Some people in Georgia may think they do not need an estate plan because they are not wealthy. While there are several reasons wealthy people need an estate plan, all adults should have some kind of plan in place.

One of the important elements of an estate plan is that it can put a structure in place in case a person becomes incapacitated. This may include insurance as well as powers of attorney that appoint people to handle medical and financial matters for the person.

Choosing the best guardian for your child

For new parents or parents with a minor child, it’s absolutely critical that you take estate planning steps to ensure that your child is left in good hands in case of your sudden passing in an unforeseen event.

Here are a few considerations to make when selecting a guardian for your child in an estate plan.

Estate planning errors when leaving assets to charities

Some Georgia residents might want to leave a portion of their estate to a charity. However, it is important to do this in a way that accounts for taxes to ensure that loved ones get the maximum benefit from assets.

As an example, a person might have a home, an IRA and an after-tax savings account that are each worth $1 million. That person might leave children all of the assets except for $100,000 from the after-tax account, which goes to a charity. The problem with this scenario is that distributions from the IRA will be taxed, so the children will get less money from these distributions than from the after-tax account.

The benefits of an estate plan

According to a recent survey from Caring.com, 78 percent of millennials don't have a will. However, estate planning professionals say that people in Georgia and throughout the country should have one regardless of their circumstances. By creating a will, an individual gets to determine how assets will be distributed after he or she passes. Furthermore, that person can appoint someone to oversee the estate as opposed to the state doing so.

For those who are single and have no children, their assets are generally transferred to their parents. With a will, parents get those assets in a streamlined fashion. Exceptions will be made for assets like bank accounts that are held jointly or have been designated for another beneficiary. Another benefit of an estate plan is the ability of an individual to determine the type of treatment given if mental incapacitation becomes an issue.

Estate planning lessons from Aretha Franklin and Prince

Many people in Georgia put off drafting their wills or trusts. If they fail to complete the estate planning process before passing away, their families may face some unintended consequences. Both Prince and Aretha Franklin died without having wills or trusts, and their cases illustrate the importance of having estate planning documents in place.

When people die without wills or trusts, their estates will be probated. This means that the probate court will determine how to distribute the assets based on the laws of intestacy. Intestate succession is outlined in state laws, meaning that the assets may be passed in a way that the decedents didn't intend to happen.

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