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HomeBusinessA Review of Estate Planning Practices

A Review of Estate Planning Practices

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Estate owners must consider hiring an estate lawyer from Atlanta for a careful planning process to protect their assets and avoid issues that could decrease their estate. If an estate owner has outstanding debts, creditors can file a lien against their estate and seize assets to cover the balances. By setting up a plan, they protect their assets for their heirs, and the probate court cannot assign any assets to the creditors. The plans are useful in separating assets from the estate and ensuring that they are available to the heirs when the estate owner dies. A review of estate planning practices helps the estate owner protect their assets and give their heirs a majority of their estate.

All Estates Must Enter Probate

Probate estate owner

Filing probate after an estate owner dies enables the court to settle the estate owner’s debts and accommodate any creditors that have placed a lien against the estate. The process ensures that the estate pays their outstanding debts via monetary assets or by the seizure of assets. The debts should be paid off before the estate is released to the family, and the probate court ensures that all liens are settled for the estate.

When approaching estate planning, the estate owner must follow strategies for reducing the value of the estate. They will also follow strategies for protecting their assets from creditors. The process involves removing assets from the estate to make it a lesser value. An estate owner provides advice about the estate and how to prevent the heirs from facing higher than average tax implications and inheritance tax threshold. The plan must include better ways to manage debts and reduce the time the estate stays in probate.

A probate lawyer plays a pivotal role in expediting the probate process by employing several effective strategies. They start by efficiently preparing and filing all necessary legal documents, ensuring accuracy to prevent errors that could lead to delays. These professionals are well-versed in local probate laws and can navigate the legal requirements seamlessly, scheduling court hearings efficiently and notifying relevant parties promptly.

Identifying and addressing potential disputes among heirs, beneficiaries, or creditors is another crucial aspect of a probate lawyer’s role. By mediating and resolving conflicts early, they prevent lengthy legal battles. Additionally, probate attorneys manage creditor claims, promptly paying legitimate ones while rejecting or contesting invalid claims. They oversee the valuation and distribution of assets, adhering to the decedent’s wishes and applicable laws. 

Creating a Will for the Estate Owner

A will presents details about the estate owner’s assets and who receives them after the estate owner dies. The owner can add stipulations about any assignment to prevent the heir from losing money. The will may also address child custody assignments if the estate owner had children that were minors when the estate owner dies. The assignments may provide the new guardian with access to financial assets to help them take care of the children. This is why wills and estate planning are so important to end of life preparation, especially for people with younger children.

When assessing these assignments, the estate owner must have a clear plan for the new guardian and explain what they want for their children as far as school preferences and religious affiliations. The new guardian may also be monitored by an officer of the court.

An Irrevocable Trust

An irrevocable trust is a great way to remove assets from the estate and decrease the value of the estate, and the estate owner can decrease the volume of assets in the estate. The trust allows the estate owner to transfer ownership of the assets to the trust, and the assets are owned by the trust instead of the individual. The owner maintains control over all the assets, and they can remove assets from the trust at any time.

A successor is listed on the documentation, and they take over the trust when the estate owner dies. The successor gets access to all the assets in the trust. The documentation explains any stipulations that apply to the assets in the trust. If the estate owner wants any of the assets given to their heirs, they can assign the heir as the successor and address these assignments in their will. Typically, the successor is the estate owner’s spouse or an adult heir. Once they receive control over the trust, the successor makes all decisions about the assets.

Setting Up Trust Funds

Trust funds are a great way to share monetary assets with loved ones and heirs. The funds have stipulations about how the money is to be used by the heir, and the stipulations may define when the heir gets access to the trust fund. For example, the estate owner could limit the heir’s asset to age 21 of 25. They may define how the funds are used such as the trust fund may be for a college education or financial support for a minor child. The estate owner defines how much money is added to the trust funds, and they can continue to add money throughout their lives.

The estate owner can set up the trust fund at any time, and all the contributions are tax-free. The estate owner doesn’t have to pay taxes on the money when they are adding it to the trust fund. However, the heir will have to pay taxes on the money when they receive it. They must add the money they receive to their tax return for the year. It is best for them to complete early payments to the IRS to avoid a lump sum payment at the end of the year. This could generate savings for the heir and prevent them from facing hefty costs all at once.

An Early Transfer for the Assets

By transferring ownership of the assets earlier, the heirs will not have to pay inheritance tax and will have an incredible amount of money. Once the assets are transferred to the heirs, they are no longer a part of the estate, and the estate owner won’t have to worry about the assets going to probate. Their heirs receive the assets free and clear without facing additional legalities. They will have to pay property taxes for the assets if they are real estate.

Giving Assets As Gifts

When estate owners give assets as a gift, they will not have to pay any taxes on the assets, and they are no longer obligated to send the assets through probate. They can give assets to the person outright.

When giving appreciated assets, the recipient often assumes the donor’s original cost basis, which can result in capital gains tax if the recipient sells the asset. Gifting also entails the loss of control over the asset, as the recipient can use or dispose of it as they see fit. Moreover, gifting can affect qualification for those considering future Medicaid eligibility due to look-back periods. 

It’s crucial to align gifts with overall estate planning goals and consider potential implications for family dynamics. Lastly, proper legal documentation and professional advice are essential, particularly for larger gifts, to ensure legal validity and clarity regarding any attached terms or conditions.

Estate owners must follow careful practices to secure their assets for their heirs and prevent the court from seizing assets for creditors. A careful estate plan separates assets from the estate and allows heirs to get the assets through a trust or through trust funds. The estate owner’s will dictates what heirs get each asset and how much money they will receive. When addressing their needs, an estate attorney can provide the estate owner with a better way to protect the assets and reduce the time the estate remains in probate.

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