If you are thinking about starting your estate planning, chances are something has triggered this decision. Perhaps you have recently gone through the tedious probate of your own parents, and you want to spare your loved ones the same fate. Maybe you have received a concerning medical diagnosis, or you simply realize you have put it off for too long.
Unfortunately, only a small percentage of those who pass away in Georgia leave behind a sufficient plan to protect their loved ones and guide them through the stages of closing their estates. Because estate planning can be an emotional process, it is understandable if you are looking for reasons to convince yourself why this process is so important.
Meeting your goals
The probate process can be quite complicated, and it involves paying your final bills and taxes, identifying and valuating your assets, and verifying your heirs before distributing your wealth. Avoiding probate is one of the most common reasons why people create an estate plan. With careful choices, it is possible to minimize the negative aspects of probate for your loved ones, relieving them of the months of emotional waiting while the courts sort out your assets, validate your heirs and decide how to divide your belongings.
An estate plan can remedy this, and some estate planning instruments can help your loved ones avoid probate altogether. Your estate plan can be as simple as a will, but you might have other concerns that an estate planning tool could address, such as:
- A revocable trust, which can protect your estate from some taxes and allow those assets funded to it to bypass probate
- An irrevocable trust to provide financial support for a child with special needs
- Guardian or conservatorship designations, to provide protection for a minor child, a dependent with a disability or other vulnerable person in your life
- A medical directive so your loved ones understand your wishes for medical care if you become incapacitated
- Powers of attorney to handle your financial or medical decisions when you are unable to do so
While you have numerous online or do-it-yourself estate planning options to choose from, you cannot always count on them for meeting your unique needs or complying with state laws. Whether your goal is to minimize probate or bequeath your assets to a special charity, your first step is to learn about the many estate planning possibilities and the tools that can help you achieve your objectives, and then seek personal assistance for creating an appropriate plan.