After you pass away, if you haven’t planned for the future in advance with an Atlanta will or a trust, it’s common that your estate can go through a process called Atlanta probate. This process can be very complicated, expensive and especially time-consuming. What’s more, the process is subject to plenty of misconceptions and we’re here to put your mind at ease by clearing up some confusion regarding the process, much of which can be eliminated by avoiding common Altanta estate planning errors in the first place.
Mistruth: If I die without a will, the state gets everything.
This is just simply untrue. If you do pass away without a will, the state law will mandate that your belongings and wealth are passed on to the next direct kin – e.g. your wife, kids, etc. Generally speaking, your first in line to inheritance, unless otherwise specified in a will or other document, are your wife and kids. The only situation in which your assets would go to the state would be if you had no other living relatives the state was able to find over a set period of time as defined by law.
Mistruth: Probate can last years.
Again, let’s clear this up: most estates are not that complex, which means probate doesn’t take years; it only lasts longer in complicated AND contested estates. Creditors do have certain windows of time to place stakes on claims on estates, and the clock starts ticking from the time that the probate proceedings are published in the local newspaper. Usually, this window can last from a few months up to one year.
Mistruth: Probate will cost the estate too much money.
Without question, anything that requires the state to intervene will have some associated costs, like legal fees, court fees and so on. But usually most estates have smaller values, which affords the family involved certain shortcuts that help alleviate associated costs.
Even if a longer or a contested probate period is necessary, the costs average less than 10% of the assessed value of the estate in question. In most cases, a few thousand dollars in costs are assessed. These include costs for things like court fees, lawyer’s fees, appraisals, court documentation and so forth.
The goal in planning your estate in Atlanta is to ease through probate or avoid it altogether with an uncontestable will, properly planned trust or irrevocable trust that doesn’t allow creditors, undue claims and other intangibles to come into the picture. Need help planning your estate? Give us call. Our experienced team can help put the right safeguards in place to leave your mind at ease.