Now that your taxes have been filed, it is time to think about your estate plan. If you don't have a Will or a current one, it is in your best interest to seek professional guidance and make sure your family and assets are protected.
I get numerous phone calls asking questions about estate planning, so I thought I'd give you the benefit of the easy answer to one of the most common questions.
Can you draft a Revocable Trust for me, and how much will it cost?
Most of the time, the simple answer is YES, I can, but NO, I WILL NOT.
Most people in Georgia don't need Revocable Trusts. If you hear on a syndicated radio show that everyone needs one, don't worry! Those shows educate the masses and every state is different. In Georgia, it is quick and cheap to probate a Will, therefore you don't need a trust to bypass probate.
Revocable Trusts are used here for only a few reasons:
1. You suspect the chances are high that your Last Will and Testament will be contested. This means that one of your heirs will not think he or she is getting their fair share and they want more money. The heir files a Caveat to the Petition to Probate and argue in court, for example, that you were senile or someone forced you to leave them out of your Will at the time it was drafted.
2. You don't want the public to know whom you left your assets to once you pass. In GA, when you probate a Will, it is filed in the County Probate Court. Anyone can go to the courthouse, check the records and purchase a copy. Please remember a Will is only filed after death and most people do not check the court records. Therefore, most times it doesn't matter that your Will is recorded. This exception would apply mainly to public figures and celebrities.
3. The person telling you that you need a Revocable Trust is trying to make money. Most of the time these "trust packages" are sold to the unsuspecting client for a few thousand dollars. Not only do you receive a nice binder with a long Trust, containing a bunch of fancy words for which you have no idea their meaning, but you then have to transfer every asset you own to your new Trust. This means you re-title the deeds to your house, your stock accounts, your car, etc. It is a lot of work and while beneficial in some states, it is NOT in Georgia.
Call me if you have other qusestions. There is no charge to ask a question. I look forward to hearing from you!
Lisa Glauber Shippel