Note: If you want to brush up on the basics of Georgia estate planning (Wills, Probate, Power of Attorney, Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts and Advanced Healthcare Directives) take a look at these free ebooks.
Over the years, I’ve had a lot of people come into the office, and I always ask them the same thing, which is, “What has prompted you to get your affairs in order?” And, as you can imagine, I get a lot of different answers to that questions. One I hear over and over, though, is that, “I just want to make my estate settlement simple.” Sometimes, it is because they have gone through the estate settlement of someone that they love, and it was a big burden to them. And, so, they want to just make things easier on them. Or, and I’ve had this happen quite a few times, as well, they’ve had a loved one pass away, and the loved one used something like a Revocable Living Trust, and things went very smoothly. So, they want the same thing for themselves.
So, as you can see, one of the easier tools we use as estate planning attorneys to make estate settlement simple, is the Revocable Living Trust.
I had a couple come in probably about six years ago. I always use them as an example of what a Revocable Living Trust can do for you but, again, they just wanted to make their estate settlement simple. What they really wanted was that when one of them passed away, they just wanted the assets to pass over to the surviving spouse. And, then, when the surviving spouse passed away, they just wanted their assets quickly and easily divided up amongst their three children. They had three adult children.
But, what they really wanted was their daughter, Linda, to handle the settlement of the estate following the passing of the surviving spouse. Linda was the one who lived closest to them. She was the one that knew the most about their financial affairs, and she was just what they called a mature adult, a responsible adult child. And, so, we set up what was called the Revocable Living Trust for them. And, eventually, the husband passed away. Everything passed over to the surviving spouse. She called me a couple days after it had happened. She was a little concerned about having to go through the process because she had a neighbor who had told her that it would probably be months before she’d ever be able to sell the family home. This particular lady wanted to sell the family home and move closer to Linda. Linda had some children, and she wanted to be closer to Linda and her grandchildren. And, she was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to. And, so, I explained to her that she wasn’t going to have to go through that probate process since she had everything in a Trust. And, she would be able to sell the property that night if she wanted to.
Now, she did end up selling it pretty quickly and moving closer to her daughter, Linda. A couple years after that, I got a call from Linda who let me know that, unfortunately, her mom had passed away, and she wanted to talk to me about helping her settle the estate. Fortunately, it was very easy. Linda was what we call the “Successor Trustee.” She’s the person who takes over things once the surviving spouse passes away. Within a few days, she was able to divide up the entire estate to her and her brother and sister, and the estate was settled, all without the costs or the time that it takes to probate your average Will.
And, so, that’s one of the reasons, these days, the Revocable Living Trust is just a tool that we use to help people make their estate settlement simple. Along with that, we provide a number of documents that go along with it. You may have heard some of these terms, maybe you haven’t. One’s called a “pour-over” Will, but we also do things like the Financial Power of Attorney and the Healthcare Power of Attorney. We just make sure that the plan is set up and designed the way that it’s supposed to work so that when that day comes, and it comes for all of us, believe me, that things will be easy on the family. And, so, if you want to make your estate settlement simple, consider using a Revocable Living Trust. It’s very popular and very common these days. And, we’d be glad to assist you in getting all that set up.