A trust is another important tool of estate planning. There are many different types of trusts, but all involve at least three parties: the trust-maker (also called the grantor – the person who creates the trust), the trustee (trust manager), and the trust beneficiary. You can create a trust while you are living (“living trust”) or via your Will after your die (“testamentary trust”). Living trusts may be irrevocable or revocable. Testamentary trusts are always irrevocable.
Just like a will, a trust outlines how and when trust beneficiaries are to receive and use the assets left to them. However, unlike a will, a trust is a private agreement, is never filed with the Court and therefore never released as public record. Another huge benefit is that a trust helps your family avoid the expensive, lengthy and tedious probate process and the involvement of probate court, which administers wills. A trust allows you to impose conditions on how and when your assets will be distributed upon your death. A trust can also help you to reduce your estate and gift taxes and can, in some cases, offer protection from creditors and lawsuits.
Approximately 60% of American households include beloved pets. Are you a pet owner? What would happen if you were no longer around? Who would care for your pet? Would your friends and family know what foods to feed or what medications to give to your pets? How can you ensure that your pet continues to receive the love and care they need?
Most pet owners want a simple way to arrange for pet care after their death. But the law views pets as “property,” and therefore, we cannot name our pets as beneficiaries in a Will. In 2010, the Georgia legislature enacted a law (Ga. Code Ann. § 53-12-28) that allows pet owners to create a trust for pets, including companion animals, race horses, hunting dogs and therapy animals. A Pet Trust is a powerful legal document that gives you the ability to not only set aside funds for your pet’s future care but to also stipulate exactly what kind of care you expect your pet to receive. A Pet Trust is fully enforceable by the courts, so you can rest easy knowing that your pet will have a happy, healthy life after you die.
An estate plan can be strong with just one of these legal tools. However, utilizing them together can provide added protection for your family and your assets in the event of incapacity or death. If you’re interested in learning more about these estate planning tools, please don’t hesitate to contact our law firm to schedule your consult today.