Georgia residents may be wise to take steps to avoid letting their estates slip into probate after they pass away. The probate process can be time-consuming and costly. Furthermore, it takes place in public and may cause additional stress to grieving heirs. Removing assets from an estate by giving gifts is one way to avoid probate, but most estate planning experts advocate the use of trusts as it allows individuals to hold on to their property. Trusts also give testators control over how and when their assets will be distributed.
Revocable living trusts are the most commonly used estate planning tools to avoid probate because they bear many similarities to wills. In addition, these trusts can hold title to assets and property even when the grantor is named as a trustee. When the grantor passes away, trustees can take care of any liabilities and distribute the remaining assets to heirs without the first going through the probate process.
Irrevocable living trusts and charitable trusts can also be used to avoid probate. While irrevocable living trusts may provide tax benefits, they cannot be altered or terminated after the documents have been signed. Grantors must also forgo ownership of the assets placed into the trust and any income derived from them. This kind of arrangement is often used for life insurance policies or when assets are being set aside for minor children.
Attorneys with experience in this area can explain the various options for avoiding probate. Trusts may also help prevent bitter disputes from breaking out between heirs and protect estates from creditors and lawsuits. Estate planning attorneys could also suggest trusts to testators who would like to delay the distribution of assets to heirs who are financially irresponsible.