Many residents in Atlanta and around the state use wills and trusts to transfer assets after death, but confusion about the function of each document is common. An experienced Georgia estate planning attorney can help guide individuals through the estate planning process and draft the appropriate document for a client's unique situation.
Although both wills and trusts can transfer assets, these documents perform different functions. A will is typically the more basic document. A will provides Georgians with the opportunity to analyze their finances and determine how best to provide for the future needs of children, charities, and any other person they want to share their estate with. A will can also be used to appoint a guardian for a child.
A trust is more appropriate for individuals who want privacy because a trust does not become a public document like a will. The privacy of a trust helps avoid the disclosure of an estate's beneficiaries or the size of an estate and living trust can hold assets for a living person who is incapacitated by health issues such as dementia. A trust can also help avoid some of the administrative costs of probate, but does include the additional cost of a trust administrator if a family member or friend is not appointed.
An additional benefit of a trust is to help avoid probate in multiple states. Many Georgia residents own property in other states such as Florida. Most state laws require real estate to go through probate in which the property is located but a living trust can help avoid probate outside of Georgia.
Source: Forbes, "Estate Planning For Women (And the Men Who Love Them)" Deborah Jacobs, 5/19/11