Estate planning is an often overlooked yet essential part of planning for one's future. As one begins to make the necessary decisions, there are often many questions regarding exactly which tools are best given the Georgia resident's specific situation. In many instances, wills or trusts are appropriate.
A will is perhaps the most common estate planning tool. Prior to creating a will, the individual should create a list of all assets. Depending upon the type of assets and the beneficiaries, these assets may need to be specified in the will. In some cases, this is not necessary; however, a complete listing is beneficial when needed. In addition to addressing the individual's assets, a will is also a useful tool for addressing the care of one's minor children; specific stipulations as to whom will be responsible can be a part of the will.
With a will, the individual retains ownership and control over assets during his or her lifetime. These assets do not transfer to the beneficiary until the death of the individual. Additionally, changes can easily be made by codicil, or a new will can be created. Upon the death of the individual, the will is presented to the court as a part of the probate process. At this time, an executor, who is typically specified in the will, is appointed to handle the affairs of the estate.
Many Georgia residents find that wills are the most appropriate tool for their specific situations. However, there are other tools available that allow ownership to be transferred during the individual's life and may offer protection from creditors. Experienced legal counsel can assist in reviewing and addressing the individual's concerns.
Source: nwitimes.com, "Estate Planning: Distinct differences between wills and trusts", Christopher Yugo, Jan. 21, 2018