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Estate administration & probate bypassed with a living trust

The revocable living trust is generally what estate planners in Georgia and elsewhere will use to avoid having to go through estate probate when a benefactor dies. There is no estate administration & probate process in the state court if the assets are already transferred into a living trust prior to the time of the decedent's death. Avoiding probate has the advantage of keeping the information about the person's life private and may have other benefits depending on the particular circumstances.

When the person dies, his assets that are in the living trust go to his heirs designated in the trust. One should keep in mind also that any accounts with designated beneficiaries also pass directly to those beneficiary upon the benefactor's death. This includes life insurance, pensions, IRAs, bank accounts with a pay-on-death beneficiary and government bonds.

In fact, if the foregoing consumes the extent of a person's estate, there will be no need for probate and no need for a living trust. Having property in two states, however, may necessitate a living trust in order to avoid probate in two states. The living trust may also be appropriate where there is an heir who is being disinherited or there are several unequal bequests to the heirs. With a living trust, the heirs will not be able to appear and contest the will.

A typical living trust in Georgia is revocable. The maker of the trust usually also serves as the trustee, thus retaining the authority to manage the funds. If a living trust is chosen, a will must be made up so that any remaining assets automatically transfer (or pour over) into the trust at the time of death. This will not avoid the necessity of estate administration & probate for those assets, but it will prevent the use of the intestate laws to distribute those assets.

Source: uniondemocrat.com, "Living trust can save time, money in probate court;", Sandra Block, July 5, 2016

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