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Are Your Children Protected? A Georgia Parent’s Guide to Essential Estate Planning

by | Sep 25, 2023 | Estate Planning, Trust Administration

Raising children is both a joy and a challenge, full of heartwarming moments and endless responsibilities. In the midst of life’s daily routines, estate planning might seem like something to do when you get older or have more wealth. However, it’s a critical part of ensuring that your children are cared for, no matter what the future holds. Here are key considerations for parents in Georgia, no matter their current status:

  1. Naming Guardians for Your Children

The decision to nominate a guardian for your minor children is one of the most crucial aspects of estate planning. If you don’t do it while you’re alive, the government will make the choice when you’re dead.

  • Legal Requirement in Georgia: Georgia law generally requires that the nomination of a testamentary guardian be stipulated in your will. Without this clear direction, the court may appoint someone you might not have chosen.
  • Your Choice Matters: The right guardian will embody your values, love, and care for your children if you’re no longer around. Consider family dynamics, values alignment, and the potential guardian’s ability to handle the responsibility.
  • Avoiding State Intervention: Without a will designating guardianship, the state will appoint someone, a process that might not reflect your desires or your children’s needs.
  1. Providing Financial Support Through Life Insurance

Ensuring that your children have the financial support they need is a key aspect of estate planning.

  • Affordability for Young Parents: Many parents of young children, even if they have good jobs, don’t have large savings or investments yet; term life insurance provides an affordable way to ensure financial security for kids if the parent is no longer around to earn an income.
  • Alignment with Estate Planning: Life insurance without a carefully constructed estate plan likely won’t result in the desired protection. Coordination between your life insurance policy and overall estate strategy is essential to prevent unintended consequences.
  1. Ensuring Children Don’t Inherit Property at Age 18

Protecting your children’s inheritance requires careful planning and understanding Georgia’s unique laws.

  • Georgia Law and Minor Children: Georgia law doesn’t allow minors to hold title to funds or property outright, requiring a conservator to be appointed by the probate court if a minor child inherits something. This process can be cumbersome and expensive.
  • The 18-Year-Old Dilemma: Whereas courts heavily restrict assets left to minor children outside of trust, the courts do nothing to protect assets left to young adults (age 18 or older), whether they’re ready for property ownership or not. This means that your 18-, 19-, or 20-year old young adult child might blow their inheritance on youthful frolics. This could also open to the door to unscrupulous friends, family members, or spouses who might take advantage of them. Trust planning helps set age-appropriate milestones, ensuring a smoother transition to financial responsibility.
  1. Avoiding Probate Court

Avoiding probate is about making life easier for your family by ensuring that your wishes are carried out efficiently.

  • Public Proceedings: Probate proceedings are public and can be time-consuming. Court-appointed representatives might not align with your child’s best interests.
  • Trust Planning Benefits: Through trust planning, you can minimize court involvement, maintaining privacy and control. Trusts allow assets to be distributed according to your specific wishes, without the delays and costs of probate. Avoiding probate also reduces the opportunities for debilitating conflict and creditor claims.
  1. Leaving Intangible Assets: Values, Lessons, and Memories

Your legacy is more than just material wealth; it’s the values and memories you share with your children.

  • Emotional Legacy Planning: Consider preserving your core values, insights, and cherished memories in a lasting digital format. This intangible inheritance provides a connection across generations.
  • Personalized Assistance: At Bryant & O’Connor Law Firm, if this is something you want our help with, we can guide you through creating a tangible record of your intangible assets. We’ve done this in the past by giving clients prompts and allowing them to record their thoughts on a video that would be available to their families.

Special Consideration: Special Needs Trusts

If your child has special needs, a unique trust structure is needed.

  • Tailored Care: A special needs trust caters to both children and adults with specific requirements, ensuring they receive the proper care without affecting government benefits they might be entitled to.

Conclusion: Personalized Care from Bryant & O’Connor Law Firm**

  • We Understand: As parents of young children, Rizza and I have a special passion for helping young families. We know firsthand the importance of safeguarding our children and ensuring their futures.
  • Peace of Mind: Estate planning is about more than just money and assets; it’s about peace of mind, knowing that your children will be cared for according to your wishes.

We invite you to reach out and begin this vital process. If you complete the required homework, we offer estate planning assessment meetings for Georgia parents for no cost. You only pay us if you think it’s worth it to engage us for a plan we offer. Even if you don’t hire us, you will certainly have gotten more organized and be more educated. Let’s work together to protect your children and secure your legacy.

As always, our blog articles provide general information to make you think about the planning you need to do. However, blog articles are not legal, financial, or accounting advice tailored to your specific situation, so you may not rely on this or any article we produce as professional advice. Please consult with the appropriate professional for your needs.