Georgia Law Blog

Why choosing the right trustee matters

One of the most important steps in creating a trust is choosing who will act as the trustee. The person who is creating the trust may want to choose a close friend or family member to serve in that role. However, it is also possible to have a financial adviser or another professional act in such a capacity. Some individuals may find it appropriate to have both a family member and a professional work together to administer a trust.

The professional would help to ensure that the trust meets the long-term goals that it was designed to fulfill. He or she would also be able to distribute money or make other decisions strictly based on the terms of the document itself. When appropriate, these decisions would be made with input from the friend or family member who has a more intimate understanding of what the trust is supposed to accomplish.

Specialized trusts can reach different estate planning goals

Estate planning strategies should be tailored to the unique circumstances of the person making the plan. However, it's also an area that can change rapidly based on state and national politics. In the future, the estate tax exemption may drop from $11.4 million to as little as $3.5 million, and the gift exemption could drop from $11.4 million to $1 million. For couples in Georgia who are considering their estate plans, the possibility of a drop in the estate tax exemption may require taking steps to ensure their assets are protected.

Some of the options available are to establish a grantor trust, set up a spousal lifetime access trust or create a self-settled domestic asset protection trust. With a grantor trust, the settlor records trust income on a personal tax return and pays income tax on it. The trust should allow the trustee to pay back the settlor for these taxes.

Signs that a marriage may be heading toward divorce

Georgia residents may be interested to know that there are signs, according to experts, that indicate a couple may be headed for divorce. Some of these signs are clearly seen by outsiders. Others are things that only the individual contemplating divorce knows is going on inside.

A sign that everyone can see is when a couple mocks each other in public. The way a married couple talks about each other or to each other is a strong indication of where their relationship is. Whether they say it to each other's face or behind their backs, the attitudes that are reflected in the mocking indicate that the marriage is suffering some irreparable damage.

Buying out a family home during a divorce

One option that many Georgia couples consider when getting a divorce is to sell the family home and use it as part of the divorce settlement. Another option, especially when children are involved, is for one spouse to buy out the family home from their soon-to-be ex-spouse and continue living in it. When a couple decides to do that, they need to calculate the house buyout.

There are a couple of calculations that need to be done in order to determine how much the home is worth and how much each spouse owns. The first thing that needs to be done is to hire an appraiser to determine the fair market value of the home. It is usually necessary for each spouse to hire an appraiser in order to reach a deal. A third appraiser may need to be brought in if the first two have calculations that are drastically different.

More Americans are getting arrested for petty crimes

Arrests can ruin lives. According to a study published in the journal Crime & Delinquency, people in Georgia and around the country who have been arrested once by age 26 earn around $5,000 less each year than those with clean records. Meanwhile, people who have had multiple arrests by age 26 earn around $13,000 less per year. In addition, those with criminal records have more trouble landing jobs and getting married.

Even though the U.S. crime rate has been trending downward for decades, more Americans are getting arrested than in the past. The same study found that U.S. adults between the ages of 26 and 35 were 3.6 times more likely to have been taken into custody at least once before the age of 26 than people who are over the age of 66. Overall, 23% of Americans born between 1979 and 1988 have a criminal record, compared to just 6.4% of those born prior to 1949.

Estate planning for blended families

Estate planning in Georgia, as well as other states, involves making decisions about end-of-life issues as well as the distribution of property and funds after death. In most cases, the estate planner is primarily concerned with the needs and feelings of heirs and loved ones. These individuals likely include spouses, significant others, children and, in some cases, stepchildren.

Over the past several decades, family life in the United States has undergone massive sea-changes. The "nuclear family," in which a husband and wife live with each other and their own biological children, represents only about one-third of the country's households.

Sort through myths and realities of limited liability companies

Starting a new business is an exciting time that includes a myriad of decisions. Some of these decisions can be more appealing than others, like designing a website or selecting a physical location for your business. Other choices can be daunting, like writing a business plan or selecting a business format. Choosing the right structure for your business is critical to protect your personal assets, save you money and set your business on the path to success.

A common business structure for small businesses is a limited liability company (LLC). However, there are myths surrounding LLCs that can be misleading and confusing. Understanding the difference between a few myths and realities of LLCs is an important step when deciding if this is the right business entity for you.

A child's birth requires estate planning

The arrival of a new child is at the pinnacle of life's greatest joys for a Georgia couple. While no one wants to detract from the moment by contemplating 'what if" scenarios, this is precisely the time to address such situations in an estate plan. There is no greater responsibility than being a parent, and an early lesson to learn and pass on to children is to be proactive.

Personal financial planners point out ways to provide as much protection to one's family no matter what occurs. For example, life insurance is a relatively affordable way to get some financial security. Life insurance policies can name an individual or multiple beneficiaries, or the proceeds can be distributed to a living trust previously established or created upon the death of the parent.

Divorce could lead to credit score damage

Divorce presents several emotional and financial issues. However, many soon-to-be exes in Georgia may overlook the potential impact on their credit scores. Most married couples have joint accounts and joint debts, like shared credit cards, loans and mortgages. While the divorce decree could make one spouse responsible for the repayment of a joint debt account, this does not affect the parties' contract with the lender.

If the party made responsible by the divorce decree fails to pay the debt, the other spouse's credit could be negatively impacted. There are steps that people can take to protect their credit scores during and after divorce. For example, it's a good idea for people to apply for separate credit cards and then close joint cards. Closing the earlier cards first can cause a credit score reduction that could hurt new credit applications.

Details can make the difference in estate planning

People in Georgia may want to pay close attention to beneficiary designations when they think about estate planning. People may feel that when they have written a will or established a trust, they have everything in order for the future. However, a wide array of assets are not generally distributed through a will or the probate process. Instead, they pass directly to another person by naming a payable on death beneficiary. Life insurance, investment accounts and retirement funds are some of the accounts that most frequently pass by naming a beneficiary, as are regular bank accounts.

Of course, these are often some of the largest assets in a person's estate, so it can be particularly important to ensure they are distributed correctly. Making sure that beneficiary designations are correct and up to date can be one of the most critical things someone can do to protect their assets. People often name their beneficiaries when they first open an account, take out an insurance policy or start a job. They may forget to change the beneficiary, even when important changes happen in their lives, like marrying, divorcing or having a child. As a result, some of these significant funds could wind up being transferred to an unexpected or even unwanted recipient, such as a former spouse.

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