While many Georgia residents have a will, more estate planning documents may be necessary to address complex issues. The first step in creating or expanding an estate plan should be to make a list of assets and debts. The asset side of this list should include even small items. In many cases, heirs can argue over relatively minor inheritances.
To reduce the likelihood of fights over the estate plan, one could write a letter of intent. This could explain to family members why certain items have gone to certain people. It is also important to choose the right people to manage various aspects of the estate. For example, a spouse might not be the best choice as the executor if they are prone to extreme emotions. If there is a trust, one or more trustees must be named. In addition, parents may need to name guardians who can take care of minor children. Special instructions may be left for the trustees and guardians.
Once created, the estate plan needs to be reviewed on a regular basis. Changes in the family, such as divorces, marriages and births, might also necessitate a review and change to the plan.
It may be best to work with an attorney who has estate planning experience. Although do-it-yourself documents are available, errors in these documents could make them hard to understand or invalid. Furthermore, an attorney could guide a client toward solutions they might be unaware of. For example, an estate owner may be unaware that it is possible to set up a trust specifically for a relative who has special needs.