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Estate administration & probate provides no advance guarantees

One who is a potential beneficiary of an estate or trust should not plan his or her future on getting the inheritance, and certainly, predicting the amount that may be bequeathed cannot be done by guesswork. Whether one lives in Georgia or another state, plans should not be made until the estate or trust attorney, or the executor or trustee, notifies the individual that a bequest is definitely forthcoming. Even then, the gift will still have to go through the procedures demanded by the estate administration & probate process.

There are many reasons why what one expects to be coming in the form of an inheritance may not show up at all or may show up in a greatly reduced version of what was expected. For one thing, the testator can leave his or her property to any persons that are designated in the person's will. There is no legal right that a family member or relative has to inherit money, with the notable exception of the statutory provision in many states that gives a spouse the right to take against the other spouse's will.

This means that the testator may choose to give funds to charitable causes and organizations, or to friends who are not related by blood. This can be done also through trusts. The benefactor may create a living trust that provides payments during the benefactor's life to designated beneficiaries. If the beneficiaries are minors, there may be further restrictions imposed through the written trust terms.

Living trust proceeds are distributed at death in Georgia and other jurisdictions as stated by the trust provisions. Often there may be continuing restrictions even after the benefactor's death. This is particularly true for minors or individuals with disabilities. A person making a will can also set up testamentary trusts in the will that provide for distribution of assets at death through the trust mechanism. The simplest example is the minor beneficiary, who may have to take periodic payments for education and welfare until he or she reaches a certain age and receives final distribution through the estate administration  probate process.

Source: pasdenajournal.com, "Counting Chickens", Marlene S. Cooper, July 13, 2016

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