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Georgia Estate Planning
Whether you're old or young, have a large estate or a small one, and are married, single, widowed or divorced, you need—at minimum—some basic estate planning documents, such as a last will and testament, and healthcare power of attorney. You may need some additional estate planning tools if you're concerned about privacy, have young children, want to minimize federal estate taxes or want to preserve your wealth as you grow older. And if you've relocated to Georgia since your estate planning documents were drafted, you may need updates. Talk to an estate planning attorney to learn more.
Wills, Power of Attorney & Advanced Directives
If you've read or heard anything about estate planning, you're probably familiar with the last will and testament. But you may be mystified about other elements of estate planning. Let's look at the most common estate planning tools.
A last will and testament is a document that explains how you'd like your estate—anything of value, including money, real estate and personal possessions—distributed after your death. If you have minor children (under the age of 18 in Georgia), you can also name a legal guardian for them if they're orphaned. (The guardian's appointment is still subject to the court's approval.)
A living trust is a legal entity into which you can transfer some or all of your assets, at which time the trust becomes the legal owner. A trustee will manage and distribute the assets, subject to the trust's rules, while you're alive. (In many instances, the person who funds the trust will also be its trustee.) After your death a successor trustee can distribute the trust's assets to other beneficiaries you've specified. A trust is often used because it operates outside the probate process, allowing assets to be distributed more quickly and privately than a last will and testament.
The power of attorney (POA) document lets you designate someone to act as your attorney in fact or agent and perform certain legal and financial tasks on your behalf. For example, an attorney in fact might be authorized to sign contracts for you, talk to the Internal Revenue on your behalf or pay bills from your bank accounts. The POA can be as narrow or as broad as you'd like to it be. For example, you can create a POA that allows your attorney in fact to do everything that's legal under Georgia law, or you can write a POA that only allows them to do one specific task on one particular day.
Advance directives or advance healthcare directives refer to a couple of estate planning documents that give you control over your medical care and treatment. A healthcare power of attorney enables you to appoint a surrogate or proxy who can make medical decisions on your behalf if you're incapacitated and unable to communicate with doctors. A living will is a document explaining your wishes related to end-of-life medical treatment.
Find & Hire Local Georgia Estate Planning Attorneys
Whether you live in Atlanta or Augusta, Columbus or Athens, or elsewhere in Georgia, Attorneys.com can help you find estate planning lawyers in your area. To use our free lawyer referral service, call us at 877-913-7222 or complete the form on this page. After you answer a few simple questions, we'll quickly connect you with a local estate planning lawyer.