Decatur and surrounding areas are bursting with new and growing families. Parents of young children have many new responsibilities, not the least of which is setting a long-term plan to guide them into adulthood. An essential part of this plan is establishing a will to ensure that your children’s personal and financial needs will be met no matter what challenges lie ahead.
Choosing a Guardian
A will is the only place where parents can make a legally binding choice of guardians for their children in the event of the parents’ deaths. It is especially important to designate guardians if you think there may be disagreements about choice of caretakers among family members, or if you want to make sure your children have the continuity of remaining in their current school and community.
The One-Third/Two-Thirds Law
If you do not have a will, Georgia law states that almost all of the property passing through your estate will be split between your spouse and your children. If there are two or more children, the surviving spouse’s share of this inheritance would be only one-third, whereas the children would share the other two-thirds. This is contrary to the intentions of most people, who would want their husband or wife to receive and control the full inheritance themselves.
Any assets left directly to your child will fall under the child’s complete control when he or she reaches age 18—not the best timing for a financial windfall. While a parent or guardian may manage a child’s assets while he or she is a minor, the child gains full control and can spend as he or she wishes upon reaching age 18. A better alternative is to provide instructions in a will that the assets will be held in trust for the benefit of a child (for health, education, and living expenses) until they reach an age when they can responsibly make decisions for themselves.
The clear provisions you set forth in a will are an enduring gift to your children while they are young, upon reaching 18, and into adulthood.
Brooks Mackintosh, Certified Estate PlannerTM, is an attorney at Mackintosh Law, LLC, in Decatur. For more information, contact him at Brooks@Mackintosh.law or 404-793-2510.