Author: Michelle Thompson, JD, CFP®, CTFA

4 Estate Planning Tips When You Have Young Children

1. Write a Will
For most young parents, writing a will is less about distributing assets and more about naming a guardian for their children. The guardian named in your Will is the person that would take care of your children if you and the other parent were unable to do so. This situation is very unlikely, but worth addressing just in case.

If your children ever needed a guardian, the local Probate Court would appoint the person designated in your Will, absent a serious problem with that person. You can name different guardians for different children if you wish. If you do not have a Will with a Guardianship Designation, or if you haven’t made your wishes in the Will clear, the Probate Court would have to select a guardian for your children without any guidance from you. The most common choice is a family member. But what if you really wouldn’t want a certain family member to raise your children? Or what if you preferred that a close friend step in as guardian? The Court would have no way of knowing your wishes.

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Benefits of Professional Trustees

What is a professional trustee?

When you set up a trust, you must name a trustee to manage and administer the assets in your trust. Generally, professional trustees are experienced individuals that work in a trust department in a bank or in a trust company.

Do you need a professional trustee?

In determining whether you need a professional trustee, consider the following…

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Using P.O.D. and T.O.D to Avoid Probate

Like any court system in America, Probate Court is a slow and sometimes complicated process that can delay estate distributions for months, and in extreme cases, years. While Georgia’s probate system is simpler than many across the US, probating a Will can also be expensive, with the filing fees, administration fees, and other court costs. And since it’s a public process, anyone can obtain a copy of another person’s Will. With certain assets, you can easily avoid probate and have the asset(s) transfer directly to the person you choose. Typically, these assets are generally accounts deemed “payable-on-death (POD)” or “transferrable-on-death (TOD).” The terms essentially mean the same thing but apply to slightly different accounts.

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What is a Living Will & Power of Attorney?

What is a Living Will & Power of Attorney?What is a living will and a power of attorney? And why do you need these documents? It is important to have a plan in place in case of an emergency or a medical situation where you are unable to make decisions about your medical treatment and financial affairs. If you do not have a plan in place, others will have to make these decisions for you, which may or may not coincide with your wishes. These difficult decisions are often left to family members, which can be gut-wrenching and stressful for them. To make sure your wishes are met, a living will and a power of attorney are important documents to have in place ahead of time.

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How to Choose the Best Trustee for your Estate

No one enjoys thinking about what will happen after they’re gone, but we all want our families to be well cared for. Many people set up trusts to provide for their loved ones, but the trust is only as good as its trustee.Choosing a trustee is one of the more difficult decisions in creating your estate plan. Some attorneys suggest choosing several trustees to promote checks and balances, but sometimes choosing just one trustee can be difficult in light of family relationships and other factors. Choosing a trustee is a very personal and complex decision, but there are some basic guidelines one should consider.

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Explanation Letters

Writing a will or trust is strictly for legal tasks, such as naming your executor/trustee, beneficiaries of your property, and guardian for your children. As you think about your estate plan, you may find that you also want to:

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