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Planning dictates estate administration

When a Georgia resident dies without leaving some documented instructions regarding the disposition of his or her estate, surviving family members could encounter difficulties when it comes to the probate process. This happens more often than people realize because over half of the country's population does not even have a will. An individual's planning -- or lack thereof -- dictates how estate administration proceeds, so it may be beneficial to consider what kinds of challenges are left for family members after death.

Having a last will and testament is a good start. This document provides a Georgia resident with a way to express his or her wishes. It can outline the disposition of property and name a guardian for any minor children. When leaving certain assets to heirs, it may be a good idea to be sure that they are not already earmarked for a particular person.

For example, retirement accounts and life insurance policies require beneficiary designations, so that the companies know who to disburse the proceeds to upon death. These designations overrule a will, which means that these assets cannot be gifted to another person in the will. The company involved will disburse the funds to the person or people identified on the beneficiary designation form, which means that these forms should be reviewed often to ensure they reflect an individual's wishes.

Providing family members with as much assistance as possible through a well-formed estate plan can prevent many complications during the estate administration process. In addition, the plan's creator retains control over who receives what assets. Further planning can be done in order to keep certain assets out of the probate process if desired. To create the best plan possible, it may be beneficial to seek help.

Source: news.morningstar.com, "An Estate Planning Checklist", Christine Benz, July 27, 2017

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