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Ways to ensure heirs receive benefits as intended

Discussing end-of-life plans is uncomfortable for many, but the thought of beneficiaries wasting money and time fighting over one's assets is probably even more unpalatable. When someone passes away without an estate plan, loved ones and heirs often have to deal with legal issues and quarrelsome family members during their time of grief. Those in Georgia may be interested in some ways to maximize an inheritance, which often involves avoiding probate court.

While making sure that there is an established will and that bills are paid may seem obvious, there are times when these issues are overlooked and can drastically reduce an estate or significantly change the way it is distributed. When someone passes away, beneficiaries do not receive any money until all debts and taxes are paid by the probate court. Also, if there is not a valid will, the court will appoint a representative who determines how the estate is distributed. Sometimes, this can be completely different from what someone intends for his or her estate.

Establishing a living trust can be a good step that can help completely bypass the probate process and save significant time and money. When an estate goes through probate, the cost to beneficiaries can be in the tens of thousands of dollars, and it can sometimes take years to reach a resolution if the will is contested. Also, the probate process is public record, so anyone in the public can obtain information on the value of the estate and to whom it was distributed. Conversely, a living trust is private and is controlled by the family, and it can generally be resolved within weeks.

There are many other ways that those in Georgia can form their estates in order to best reach their goals. Most speak with an attorney who is experienced in estate planning to discuss their needs and to develop an appropriate plan. By planning ahead, someone can ease the burden on his or her loved ones and ensure that his or her heirs receive the most from one's estate when he or she passes.

Source: The Huffington Post, "5 Ways To Plan Your Estate", Laiza King, Oct. 5, 2016

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