A Georgia “living” trust (may be called an “Inter Vivos” trust) is a trust that you and your estate planning lawyer create while you are still alive. The relatives or beneficiaries you name in the living trust will receive their share of your trust property when you die. A will is also used for this purpose, but there is a significant difference. Most wills will have to go through probate, while your living trust may not. Probate is the legal court process that oversees your will and the transfer of your property to all designated beneficiaries.

You also could create a revocable living trust as part of their estate plan. A revocable living trust can be modified, revised, or revoked at any time. Commonly, you are the trustee of your trust, and while you are alive, you retain control of the trust and all the assets and property included in it.

On the contrary, irrevocable trusts cannot be revoked or modified after signing. These “Irrevocable trusts” can be legal tools to achieve specific goals (such as reducing taxes), but they usually require giving up ownership and control of the assets and property.

Commonly, You’re going to create a revocable living trust to avoid paying Georgia’s probate fees upon your death. In most cases, the more an item in your trust is worth, the more it will cost to go through the probate process. So, in most cases, you want to hold your most valuable property items in the living trust.

Some examples of these types of properties are:

  • Houses and real estate (even if they’re mortgaged).
  • Brokerages hold Stocks, bonds, and other security accounts.
  • Small business interests could include stock in a closely held corporation, partnership interests, or limited liability company shares.
  • Patents or copyrights.
  • Precious metals (silver/gold).
  • Significant and valuable works of art, furniture, or antiques.
  • Valuable collections of stamps, coins, or any type.

Usually, you can add (or subtract) property to your living trust at any time. Also, because you are also the trustee, you can sell or give away property in the trust or take it out of the living trust and put it back in your name at any time

This can be a rigorous, detailed legal process, especially with complex and numerous holdings. Planning is critical, so enlisting the help of a qualified Atlanta estate planning lawyer is invaluable to make sure your exact wishes are conducted.

What Do I Do To Form a Living Trust in Georgia?

Getting the assistance of a qualified, professional Atlanta estate planning lawyer will make forming a living trust in Georgia fairly simple. This is usually done in an interview format and then drawn up by the attorney and their staff.

Some of the decisions you need to make are:

  • Choose whether to make an “individual” or shared trust.
  • Decide exactly what property to include in the trust.
  • Choose a successor trustee.
  • Designate precisely who will be the trust’s beneficiaries and what they may receive.
  • Create the actual trust document with the help of your lawyer.
  • Approve and Sign the document, and get it notarized.
  • Change the state title of any trust property that has a title document to correspond to the fact that you now own the property as trustee of the trust.

Forming a living trust can be a painless and rapid process with proper, professional legal guidance. It’s important to note that legal advice is mandatory so that all the correct items are included and protected and that your instructions for distribution are made abundantly clear.

If I Form a Living Trust in Georgia, Do I Still Need a Will?

Simply put, yes, you may still need a will. This may be confusing, and your will might never be used. Every case is different, but there are reasons also to have a will.

Two examples are:

  • Designate a guardian for any of your minor children. You usually cannot use a trust to name a guardian for your minor children, and this is vitally important.
  • To designate any property that you haven’t included in your trust. This is a common occurrence, and people create trusts and simply forget to formally transfer some property or items into it or purchase added things that aren’t included. Your will acts as a backup to dictate how assets not in the trust should be distributed.

If you don’t have a will, any property that isn’t transferred by your living trust will go to your closest relatives, as determined by Georgia state law, which you may not want.

I Have Significant Life Insurance, Should I Include That In My Living Trust?

Usually, a life insurance policy is not included in a living trust, as the proceeds the beneficiary usually receives do not go through probate. So, if avoiding probate is the primary goal of your trust, you won’t need to bother with adding life insurance.

There are exceptions; for example, if a minor is the beneficiary of your policy, you may want to make sure someone you appoint will manage the money for the child. You could also just name your living trust as the beneficiary. If you don’t arrange to manage the minor’s capital, and the child receives the money while a minor, the Georgia courts will appoint a financial guardian to oversee the funds. Also, something that may not be your intention.

I Do Have To From a Georgia Living Trust, How Should I Proceed?

You begin to see that although forming a living trust in Georgia may seem simple (and sometimes is), that is certainly not always the case. Getting the professional, empathetic, and knowledgeable guidance of a Roswell or Atlanta estate planning law firm will be invaluable in helping to secure your future wishes and protect your family. The Atlanta estate planning lawyers at the firm of Oren Ross & Associates have been ensuring the future financial success for a myriad of Georgia’s families. Consult with them first and get the professional advice you need to make the most of this valuable legal tool known as the living trust.