Your assets are important. You’ve worked hard for them, and when you die you want them to end up in the right hands. That’s why we make wills in which we nominate our beneficiaries and heirs.
Of course, we all know that not everybody gets around to making a will. If that person dies intestate (with a will) there is a legal process that must be followed. This involves tracking down and evaluating all the assets owned by the deceased as well as his or her debts. The assets are then usually distributed to family members.
From this discussion, you should be able to see that it is beneficial for all concerned if there is a will. Even so, wills are sometimes contested. For instance, family members might feel they deserved an inheritance they haven’t been left. Or they might claim that the deceased promised certain items, property, or money, and this is not reflected in the will.
Unfortunately, when an inheritance comprises large amounts of money and valuable property it can cause huge rifts and unpleasantness unless the person who has died has made it totally clear what his or her intentions are. This is why it is so important to draw up a comprehensive will and possibly establish a trust that will safeguard property. And the best way to do this is by consulting with an experienced estate attorney that can draw up all the necessary paperwork to ensure your wishes are followed after your death.
Probate in Georgia
When somebody dies, probate is the process used to settle the estate – with or without a will. The only time estates are not subject to probate is when the estate is minimal. In this instance, a specific procedure must be followed. A Georgia estate attorney will be able to advise.
There are also certain instances where assets in Georgia may be passed on without probate. These include joint tenancy when one of the two tenants dies and the other takes over the tenancy. Another is when life insurance policies and retirement accounts have beneficiaries named in the policies. Also, there are certain bank and brokerage accounts that might have designated beneficiaries.
Essentially, the reason probate exists is to ensure that the will of any person who has died is carried out. Even if there is a very detailed will it must be verified before any property is passed on.
If there isn’t a will, heirs in Georgia can agree on how to divide the assets of the deceased. Providing there are no creditors, the court can order that probate isn’t necessary. If the potential heirs don’t agree then probate is mandatory.
State Estate and Inheritance Taxes
While some US states levy inheritance and/or estate taxes these are not levied in Georgia. So, when someone dies no estate tax is payable, and when someone inherits property from someone who was a resident of Georgia, no inheritance tax has to be paid. There may though be a tax bill unless you are married to the deceased.
The tax that those living in Georgia need to be aware of is federal estate tax that affects the deceased’s estate rather than those who inherit. But because it carries a rather large exemption (at least $5-million) that is updated regularly, it is actually only relevant to the richest US citizens who die.
So that’s something less to worry about!
If you live in Georgia you will find an estate attorney at Slepian, Schwartz & Landgaard that can help you ensure that your assets will be protected after your death. Don’t leave it until it’s too late. Call the leading Peachtree City wills/estates attorney in Georgia today to arrange a personal consultation.