Insightful Georgia Lawyers Advise on Wills and Probate Matters
Experienced St. Simons Island attorneys assist Glynn County clients
Creating a comprehensive estate plan gives you and your loved ones the peace of mind you deserve. If you have questions regarding wills or probate, the knowledgeable attorneys at Choate Harris P.C. in St. Simons Island can assist with a variety of complex estate planning and administration concerns. In Glynn County and the surrounding area, we also advise clients on issues concerning business structure and succession. Whether you’re looking to protect your family’s future or seeking to complete the probate process without undue hassle, our lawyers offer professional guidance and personalized service. Firm attorneys know how to spot key issues and deliver effective solutions.
Honest firm delivers comprehensive counsel relating to wills
Drafting a will enables you to preserve your assets and pass them in the manner that you choose. Our attorneys help a wide range of clients to create an appropriate will and understand issues such as:
- Intestacy — When no will exists, a decedent’s property is divided under Georgia’s intestacy rules, which prioritize certain family members. However, if no debtors object and the heirs agree on a resolution, the allocation can occur outside of the probate process.
- Legal requirements — To create a legal will in Georgia, two witnesses must be present as you sign and attest in writing to the validity of your signature. Though notarization is not necessary, creating a “self-proving” notarized document eases the process of enforcing your will when the time comes. We will also outline the role of the personal representative and help you designate a trusted person to execute the instructions in your will.
- Modifications — Just because you’ve created a last will and testament doesn’t mean that it accurately reflects your current situation and wishes. If you haven’t reviewed the document in a while, we can go over the key terms with you and make any adjustments that you think are appropriate.
- Surviving spouse rights — Surviving spouses and minor children are entitled to a year’s support from the assets in the estate under Georgia law. To obtain this relief, a petition must be filed within two years of the decedent’s death. If you have questions regarding shared property or the treatment of other assets, we can help.
With our guidance, you can make informed decisions and create a document that meets your unique estate planning needs.
St. Simons Island Trusts Attorney Helps Protect Your Wealth
Reliable guidance on trusts in Georgia
You’ve worked hard to acquire your wealth, but have you given enough thought to how you can protect it? At Choate Harris P.C. on St. Simons Island, our estate planning attorney provides a variety of asset protection strategies, including the establishment of trusts. If you want to secure your wealth for your retirement and pass that wealth on to your heirs and other beneficiaries of your choosing, a trust may be an optimal solution. Our attorney will give you personalized attention in developing a comprehensive estate plan that meets your needs.
What is a trust?
A trust is a legal entity that you create for the benefit of others. An appointed trustee (which may be yourself) becomes the legal owner of property placed in the trust, but the trustee is under a fiduciary duty to manage the property in the interests of the designated beneficiaries. Depending on how the trust is created, the beneficiaries may receive income from the trust during your lifetime and/or receive a share of your property upon your death. The trust assets can go to the beneficiaries immediately, without the delay and expense of probate. Trusts also allow you to place conditions on the way assets are dispersed, so you have greater control and flexibility than you would with a will.
Common types of trusts in Georgia
Trusts are flexible instruments that can be tailored to meet your needs. A trust in Georgia can be of one of these types:
- Revocable living trust— You establish this type of trust to hold your assets for your enjoyment while you are alive, then pass them on to your heirs. You maintain control and can dissolve the trust at any time.
- Irrevocable trust — Once you establish this kind of trust, you cannot dissolve it or even amend it without your beneficiary’s permission. You give up control, but you gain a greater level of protection from creditors and other claimants.
- Testamentary trust —You can use your will to create and fund a trust that takes effect when you pass away. The trust holds the assets for your beneficiaries under the terms you spell out.
- Spendthrift trust — If you have a prospective heir who cannot deal responsibly with large sums of money, you can create a trust to make sure they have a steady but moderate income.
- Special needs trust — Leaving a lump-sum inheritance to someone with disabilities can cost him or her government benefits like Supplemental Security Income. A special needs trust can provide needed resources without disqualifying the recipient from government assistance.
Our estate planning attorney works closely with you to understand your circumstances and create one or more trusts addressed to your anticipated future needs.
Administering trusts in Georgia
Someone has to oversee the assets you place in your trust. With a living trust, you can be your own trustee. Other trusts require a different party to manage the assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries. A trustee has a fiduciary duty to manage assets honestly and responsibly according to the terms of the trust and to avoid any wasting of assets. Our attorney has extensive experience assisting trustees with the full range of their administrative duties.
Contact an experienced Georgia wills and trusts lawyer to make an appointment
Choate Harris P.C. assists clients with wills and probate matters throughout the Glynn County area. Please call 912.324.5216 or contact us online to schedule an appointment at our St. Simons Island office.