Do I Need a Last Will and Testament?
If you do not have a Will, state law will determine who will receive your assets at your death. In Georgia, a married person’s assets will be divided between the surviving spouse and any children. An unmarried person’s assets generally will pass to his or her parents or children (or possibly to more distant relatives). In addition, any assets passing to minor children may ultimately be distributable to them at age 18. If you have assets and/or liabilities, you should execute a Will, in order to instruct how those assets are to be handled upon your death. Additionally, your Will can designate an executor who will collect your assets, pay your debts and distribute the balance to your designated beneficiaries. If you have minor children, you can use a Will to name their guardian. Finally, you can use a Will to create a trust to protect family members with spendthrift tendencies or substantial exposure to creditors and appoint a trustee to control these assets.
How Do I Minimize Estate Taxes?
If you have assets worth more than $5,430,000 (including life insurance that you own and retirement plan assets), your estate may be facing an estate tax liability. Estate taxes are, in many cases, avoidable with proper planning and time to implement the planning. Our practice includes analyzing the ownership of assets to ensure that the maximum amount can pass free of tax. In addition, we explore with clients lifetime options for reducing the tax bill triggered at death, including lifetime gifts to family members or trusts for their benefit. Attorneys at Cohen & Caproni have over 80 years of experience and expertise in probate and estate tax law. We can work with you to review your situation to optimize the outcome.
What Estate Planning Tools are Available to Me?
There are a number of estate planning “tools” that may be appropriate for your situation, including Wills, trusts (whether lifetime or testamentary), family partnerships or LLCs, life insurance trusts, grantor retained annuity trusts or unitrusts, charitable remainder trusts, and charitable lead trusts. Cohen & Caproni can help you determine which tools are right for you and your family.