Atlanta Wills & Living Trusts Attorney

Every adult should have an estate plan whether your needs are simple or complex. In these situations, trust Goldberg & Associates. Our firm is skilled in managing wills, trusts and all of the other documents needed to plan for your estate. Our Atlanta wills and living trusts lawyer will work closely with you to understand your goals and needs for estate planning.

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Trusts and Wills Attorneys Serving Peachtree City

Many of us put off writing our wills because nobody enjoys dwelling on death. But a properly created will or trust is one of the best things you can do for your family. Die without a will, and the state of Georgia will make the important decisions for you. Call us today.

signing last will and testament

Why Choose Goldberg & Associates

  • Since 1999, we have supported our clients and their families with their estate planning needs. We have the skills and experience to help assist with your wills and living trusts.
  • Our firm has extensive experience handling a wide range of estate planning needs. We can guide you through all types of matters, from making healthcare arrangements to designating a power of attorney.
  • We handle every matter with urgency and care. Our attorneys pay attention to every detail and will work diligently to protect your best interests.

If you die without either a will or a living trust, the state will control how your property is dispersed. Settling your estate will probably be more difficult and costly as well. The best-known difference between a will and a living trust is that a living trust allows your estate to avoid probate at your death. But this is just one of many advantages the living trust has over a will. A well-designed living trust that takes full advantage of recent changes to the law can give you complete control over how your assets are distributed, reduce taxes, assure privacy, protect your beneficiaries, and more.

Do you really need a living trust? This depends on a wide range of factors, but one thing is certain—not all living trusts are created equal. Trusts prepared by non-attorneys or do-it-yourself software have left many families without proper protection. We can put a wide range of trusts to work on your behalf.

Serving the Atlanta area, Goldberg and Associates is a law firm offering focused abilities in:

A last will and testament is an important legal document that outlines how you want your assets distributed following your death. If you have any dependents, you can also use the will to outline their care. 

It is important for all adults to have a will, regardless of assets or net worth. Without a will, your property will be distributed according to Georgia’s intestate laws. Creating a last will and testament can help ensure that your final wishes are honored.

A will is especially important if you have minor children or any other dependents. This document outlines who will care for your children and who will become their legal guardian following your death. 

Losing a loved one is difficult enough; the last thing your family needs is the added stress of making important financial and legal decisions while in mourning. At Robert M. Goldberg & Associates, we have the experience and compassion necessary to make the estate and trust administration process as efficient and stress-free as possible. We will guide your heirs with great sensitivity, and work closely with executors, personal representatives, trustees and other fiduciaries through the court involved probate process from start to finish to ensure your wishes are carried out.

If you have been appointed as a successor trustee, our will & living trust attorneys can help you understand and mitigate the risks of the personal liability you’ve undertaken by accepting to act as trustee. We can also walk you through your duties and responsibilities regarding statutory notice requirements, distribution to beneficiaries, payment of expenses, compliance with the prudent investor rule, income and estate tax consequences and elections, and accounting to the beneficiaries and/or court where required.

When researching wills and living trusts, you may have come across the term power of attorney. This legal authorization designates a certain person who can make important decisions on your behalf. The authorized person can represent you when handling matters regarding your finances, property, or medical care.

A power of attorney is a very important document in an estate plan. If you are ever incapacitated, a trusted individual is able to make key decisions during this time. However, the power of attorney becomes null and void if the person it represents passes away.

What is a Trust?

A trust is a separate legal entity for holding and investing property. One or more persons (the "trustee") holds property, usually real estate or investments, for the benefits of another or several other people (the "beneficiary"). The person who gives the property for the trust is known as the "donor" or "grantor". The trustee holds legal title or interest and is responsible for managing, investing, and distributing the assets or property of the trust. The beneficiary holds an equitable or beneficial interest.

What are the Benefits of Establishing a Trust?

Depending on your situation, there can be several advantages to establishing a trust.  Most well known is the advantage of avoiding probate.  That is, in a trust that terminates with the death of the donor, any property in the trust prior to the donor’s death passes immediately to the beneficiaries by the terms of the trust without requiring probate.  This can save time and money for the beneficiaries.  Certain trusts can also result in tax advantages both for the donor and beneficiary.  Or they may be used to protect property from creditors, to help the grantor qualify for Medicaid, or simply to provide for someone else to manage and invest property for the grantor and the named beneficiaries.  Trusts are private documents and only those with a direct interest in the trust need know of the trust assets and distribution.  If well drafted, another advantage of trusts is their continuing effectiveness even if the donor dies or becomes incapacitated.

What Kinds of Trusts are There?

There are several types of trusts, some of the more common of which are discussed below:
  • Revocable Trust: A revocable trust is sometimes referred to as a “living” or “inter vivos” trust.  Such a trust is created during the life of the donor rather than through a will.  With a revocable trust, the donor maintains complete control over the trust and may amend, revoke, or terminate the trust at any time.  So, the donor is able to reap the benefits of the trust arrangement while maintaining the ability to change the trust at any time prior to death.  The disadvantage of a revocable trust is that the trust assets are countable to the donor for purposes of determining Medicaid eligibility.
  • Irrevocable Trust: An irrevocable trust is created during the life of the donor, who thereafter may not change or amend the trust.  Any property placed into the trust may only be distributed by the trustee as provided for in the trust instrument itself.  For instance, the donor can provide that he or she will receive income earned on the trust property.  The irrevocable trust where the donor retains the right to income only is a popular tool for Medicaid planning.
  • Testamentary Trust: A testamentary trust is a trust created by a will.  Such a trust has no power or effect until the will of the donor is probated upon his or her death.  Although a testamentary trust will not avoid the need for probate and will become a public document as it is a part of the will, it can be useful in accomplishing other estate planning goals.  For instance, the testamentary trust can be used to provide funds for the surviving spouse in a form that will not be considered available and not have to be spent down if he or she should seek Medicaid eligibility to pay for long-term care.
  • Supplemental Needs Trust: A supplemental needs trust can be created by the donor during life or be part of a will.  Its purpose is to enable the donor to provide for the continuing care of a disabled spouse, child, relative or friend.  The beneficiary of a well-drafted supplemental needs trust will have access to the trust assets for purposes other than those provided by public benefits programs.  Thereby, the beneficiary will not lose eligibility for benefits such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, and low-income housing.

What is the Difference Between a Trust and a Living Trust?

Trusts are financial relationships that can be used to support a variety of estate planning needs. A trustor or grantor creates the trust on behalf of a certain beneficiary. The trustee then manages and administers the trust for both parties. 

A living trust is a popular estate planning tool that transfers ownership of some or all of your assets into a trust. You can continue to use and access these assets until you pass away. Then, your beneficiaries can access the assets.

One of the major benefits of a living trust is that it helps your beneficiaries avoid the probate process, which can be lengthy. However, there are many factors that play a role in the proper administration of a living trust. 

When creating a living trust, it is important to consult with an Atlanta will lawyer at Goldberg & Associates. Our firm will carefully assess your options so that you can protect the interests of you and your beneficiaries.

What is a Pet Trust?

Our beloved pets are just as important as our living family members. If you have an animal companion, you can establish a pet trust on its behalf. With a pet trust in place, you can ensure your pet’s care and comfort even if you are unable to care for the animal yourself. 

Under this legal arrangement, you entrust a trustee to hold property for the benefit of your pet, such as cash. The trustee will make payments to the pet’s designated caregiver for food, toys, medical care, grooming, and other services. You may name your pet’s designated caregiver in your estate plan.

What is a Will?

A last will and testament is a legally binding document that details how you want your family to handle your property, affairs, and assets following your death. The will is an important component of an estate plan and ensures that your final wishes are honored. Everyone needs a will, regardless of net worth. 

Why Do I Need a Will?

We spend a lifetime accumulating property. When we pass away, we want to ensure that these assets go to the right people and charitable organizations. We want our children to be in the care of trusted individuals, and we want our relatives to inherit the right properties and cherished items. 

By creating a will, you can protect your interests, your dependents, and your legacy following your passing. You can work with a will attorney at Goldberg & Associates to create this document and address all important matters regarding your assets.  

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

If you die without a will, the state will distribute your assets according to Georgia’s intestate succession laws. Under intestate succession, the following rules will apply. 

  • If you have surviving children but no spouse, your children will inherit all of your assets.
  • If you have a surviving spouse but no descendants, your spouse will inherit all of your assets.
  • If you have a surviving spouse and descendants, the parties will share all of your assets. Your spouse will receive at least one-third share of your assets.
  • If you have surviving parents but no spouse or descendants, your parents will inherit everything.
  • If you have surviving siblings but no spouse, parents, or descendants, your siblings will inherit everything. 

What Are the Elements of a Legal Will in Georgia?

To create a last will and testament in Georgia, you will need to meet certain requirements

  • First, you must be 14 years or older and are competent enough to create the will. You must have testamentary capacity, or a decided and rational desire to create the will and dispose of your property. You must create the will freely and voluntarily.
  • Next, the will must be written. You could type the will out, or you could write it by hand. You cannot submit an oral will.
  • Then, you must sign the will. You must also ask two witnesses who are at least 14 years old to sign the will. Holographic wills, or wills that do not have two witness signatures, are not considered valid in Georgia. 

Is There a Difference Between Wills and Trusts?

Wills and trusts can be important tools for managing assets. However, they play two very different functions in the grand scheme of your estate plan.

A will is a legally binding document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed upon your death. The will also details how to handle certain affairs, such as the care of minor children and dependents. 

A trust, on the other hand, is a financial relationship between three parties: a beneficiary, a trustee, and a trustor. The trustor creates and opens the trust, and the trustee manages the trust on behalf of the beneficiary. You may create a trust on behalf of dependent children, for example. 

Can I Handwrite My Will?

Yes. For a will to be valid in Georgia, you must write it. You can write a will by hand or type it out. Oral wills are not valid in Georgia, even if you record it. 

Who Can Make a Will?

To legally create a will in Georgia, you must be at least 14 years or older unless you have a legal disability. If you do not have the legal capacity or liberty to understand the concept of creating a will, you cannot create a legal will.

You must also have testamentary capacity in order to create a will. This means that you have a decided and rational desire to create your will and dispose of your property. Additionally, you must create the will freely and voluntarily. This means that you are not creating the will under duress, coercion, or misrepresentation.

Can I Make Changes to My Will?

You may make a will in advance, and years later, an event happens that requires you to change your will. If you create a will and later want to make a change to the document, it is important to consult with your Georgia will & trust attorney. 

Under Georgia law, you can make changes to a will in Georgia at any time. However, you will need to take the following steps.

  • First, you must create a physical document known as a codicil. You will need to clearly indicate the changes that you intend to make to the will.
  • Next, clarify that the document is a codicil. You can do this by naming the document as such. A will lawyer can ensure that you meet the legal requirements for a codicil.
  • Then, you must get two witnesses who are at least 14 years old to sign and date the codicil document.
  • Finally, you will attach the codicil to your will physically. 

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