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Georgia Probate Attorney: Estate Planning to Avoid Potential Probate Disputes

As an Atlanta estate planning and probate attorney, I have had many clients who found themselves tangled up in familial discord because of the lack of proper estate planning done by their parents or other family members. The probate process can be difficult and stressful and can often result in feuds between family members if an estate is complicated or if the estate was not planned well. If you would like to know what happens in the probate process for an intestate estate (the estate of a person who died without a will), you can read my previous blog post on the matter. I discuss in this blog some ways to plan your estate and write your will so that your family can avoid lengthy probate proceedings as much as possible – and hopefully avoid conflict. One way to avoid ambiguity in your estate plan that may lead to familial conflict is to designate bank accounts which you intend to give to a specific family member as “payable on death” (POD) or “transferrable upon death” (TOD). A POD/TOD bank account pays out upon your death only to the specific person named as beneficiary on the account. This type of bank… [Read More]

Georgia Estate Planning Attorney: Wills on the Cheap Cost More in the End

I’ve been an Atlanta estate planning and probate attorney for several years and am often entertained and sometimes shocked by some attempts people make to prepare their own Last Will and Testament either on their own or through an automated service like LegalZoom.com.  I used to support companies like LegalZoom because I thought the documents they produced were foolproof, but I changed my mind after seeing what was supposed to be an easy process mangled either through the computer application or upon the execution of of the documents.  I certainly sympathize with the customer concerned with costs and don’t blame LegalZoom for grabbing hold of a market niche, but too often the result is far from what the customer intended.  (I’ve represented a lot of individuals in the past in business disputes resulting from the same problem: business partners too cheap to spend a few thousand dollars on a consult and some documents to protect their business and themselves from unknown legal risks.  As a result, the partners often end up spending tens of thousands in litigation.) I’ve seen poorly drafted Wills make bequests to persons whom the testators had no intention of leaving property (at the cost of those… [Read More]

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