How To Set Up A Trust In Georgia: 6 Important Steps

How To Set Up A Trust In Georgia - Setting Up A Trust In Georgia - How To Create A Trust In Georgia - How To Open A Trust Georgia

Wondering how to set up a trust in Georgia? 

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • the types of trust, their key features, and the pros and cons 
  • things to consider before setting up a trust fund
  • legal requirements to create a trust in Georgia
  • how to set up a trust
  • common mistakes made when creating a trust

Let’s dig in.

Table of Contents

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Types Of Trusts In Georgia

Before we discuss how to set up a trust fund, let’s look at:

Revocable Trusts

A revocable trust in Georgia is a flexible estate planning tool. 

The person who creates it can alter or terminate it during their lifetime.

The key features of a revocable trust are:

  • Control: The creator maintains control over the trust’s assets.
  • Changeable: Can be modified or dissolved anytime.
  • Privacy: Avoids probate, keeping the estate’s details private.

The pros of a revocable trust in Georgia are:

  • Flexibility: Change or revoke it as your circumstances change.
  • Probate Avoidance: Helps avoid the probate process, saving time and money.

The cons of a revocable trust in Georgia are:

  • No Tax Benefits: Assets are still part of your taxable estate.
  • No Creditor Protection: Assets in the trust are subject to claims by your creditors.

Irrevocable Trusts

An irrevocable trust in Georgia cannot be altered or terminated without the permission of the beneficiaries once it’s created.

The key features of an irrevocable trust are:

  • Permanent: It cannot be changed without beneficiaries’ consent.
  • Tax Benefits: It can remove assets from your taxable estate.
  • Creditor Protection: It can protect assets from potential creditors.

The pros of an irrevocable trust are:

  • Estate Tax Reduction: The assets are not part of your taxable estate.
  • Creditor Protection: Trust assets can be protected from creditors.

The cons of an irrevocable trust are:

  • Inflexible: It cannot be changed easily.
  • Loss Of Control: You cannot control or manage the trust’s assets.

Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust in Georgia provides for a person with disabilities without affecting their eligibility for government benefits.

The key features of a special needs trust are:

  • Government Benefits: It preserves the beneficiary’s eligibility for government benefits.
  • Managed By A Trustee: A trustee manages and disburses funds for the beneficiary.

The pros of a special needs trust are:

  • Financial Support: It provides financial resources without jeopardizing benefits.
  • Control: A trusted individual manages the funds on behalf of the beneficiary.

The cons of a special needs trust are:

  • Complexity: Requires careful drafting to avoid potential issues.
  • Management: Requires a trustee to manage it.

Testamentary Trusts

A testamentary trust in Georgia is created by a will and comes into effect after the creator’s death.

The key features of a testamentary trust are:

  • Delayed Creation: It doesn’t exist until the creator’s death.
  • Probate: It is subject to the probate process.
  • Control: It allows you to dictate how your assets are distributed after death.

The pros of a testamentary trust are:

  • Control: You decide how and when beneficiaries receive assets.
  • Protection: It can protect minors or irresponsible beneficiaries from misusing assets.

The pros of a testamentary trust are:

  • Probate: It goes through probate, making it a public record.
  • No Living Benefits: It doesn’t help manage assets or avoid probate during your lifetime.

Consider This Before Setting Up A Trust In Georgia

Before setting up a trust in Georgia, you should consider several factors.

Read More: Does Your House Have To Be Paid Off To Put It In A Trust

Objectives And Goals Of The Trust

The primary question to answer is why you are setting up a trust

Your goals in setting up a trust could be to:

  • protect your assets
  • provide for loved ones
  • avoid probate. 

Define this goal for your trust clearly.

Next, identify your beneficiaries. 

These are the people or entities who will receive the benefits of your trust. 

They could be family members, friends, or charities.

Consider the financial implications of opening a trust as well. 

Establishing a trust may impact your:

  • current financial situation 
  • future tax obligations 

Understand these consequences before proceeding.

Financial Inventory

Create a detailed list of your assets. 

This includes real estate, stocks, bonds, and personal property. 

Be thorough, as this forms the foundation of your trust.

Determine your liabilities. 

These could be mortgages, loans, or other debts. 

It’s crucial to understand your total net worth when setting up a trust.

Develop a future financial forecast. 

Assess potential changes in your financial situation. 

Include expected inheritances, the sale of assets, or potential debts. 

This helps to ensure the trust’s longevity.

Choosing A Trustee

The trustee is a crucial figure in the management of a trust. 

This person or entity manages the trust assets for the beneficiaries. 

Understand this role well when selecting a trustee.

Anyone can be a trustee. 

However, choose someone you trust implicitly. 

This person should be responsible, organized, and capable of making sound financial decisions.

Take time in selecting a suitable trustee. 

Consider the complexity of your trust and the capability of the individual. 

In some cases, a professional trustee or trust company might be a better choice.

(Our trust lawyers in Georgia can be your trustee.)

Legal Requirements For Setting Up A Trust In Georgia

This section will discuss the legal requirements for creating a trust.

The Trust Documents

Let’s break down the essential elements of a trust document:

  • Settlor’s Intent: The clearly stated intention of the settlor, the person creating the trust, to form the trust. This is typically expressed in the trust document, asserting the settlor’s desire to establish the trust and transfer specific assets into it.
  • Trust Purpose: The defined reason or objective for the establishment of the trust. This could range from providing for a beneficiary’s education, preserving assets until a minor reaches adulthood, or supporting a beneficiary with special needs.
  • Trust Property: Refers to the particular assets that are placed into the trust, which can encompass real estate, investments, cash, businesses, and personal belongings, among others. These assets should be explicitly identified and described in the trust document.
  • Trustee: The appointed individual, group, or organization responsible for managing the trust. Their duties involve administering the trust as per its terms, managing and investing the trust property, and distributing the trust assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the instructions in the trust document.
  • Beneficiaries: The individuals or entities that will receive benefits from the trust. These benefits usually derive from the trust property and are dispensed as per the conditions outlined in the trust document. Beneficiaries can include individuals, groups, organizations, or even pets.

How To Make A Trust Valid

Here are the things that you need to make a trust valid in Georgia:

  • Proper Signing: As the trust settlor, you must sign the trust document. This formally expresses your intention to establish the trust.
  • Witnesses: While Georgia law doesn’t require witnesses for trust execution, it’s good practice to have at least two. They can attest that you willingly and knowingly signed the document.
  • Notarization Requirements: Georgia doesn’t mandate the notarization of trust documents. However, notarizing the trust document can provide an extra layer of authenticity and legality.

If you neglect these three aspects when creating a trust, it can lead to several potential issues:

  • Not Signing Properly: Your signature on the trust document shows you want to create the trust and move property into it. If you don’t sign, the document may not be legally valid. This can put your assets at risk of undergoing probate or being distributed differently from what you intended.
  • No Witnesses: Witnesses are not a requirement for setting up a trust in Georgia but are good practice. They can confirm you willingly signed the document, clear-headed and free from pressure. Without witnesses, it can be difficult to prove the trust’s validity if challenged.
  • Not Notarizing: Notarization, while not a Georgia requirement for opening a trust, adds weight to your trust document. If your document isn’t notarized, challengers might question the genuineness of your signature or the document itself.

Not taking these steps can result in:

It could also mean that your assets don’t end up being managed or distributed as you wished.

How To Set Up A Trust In Georgia

Here’s a straightforward, step-by-step process for setting up a trust in Georgia:

  1. Determine The Type Of Trust: First, decide on the type of trust that best suits your needs and goals. This could be a revocable trust, irrevocable trust, special needs trust, or testamentary trust. Each type serves different purposes and offers unique benefits.
  2. Gather Required Information: Next, compile all necessary details, including the identities of the grantor, trustee, and beneficiaries. You’ll also need a comprehensive list of the assets that will go into the trust.
  3. Draft The Trust Document: Once you have the information, start drafting the trust document. It should clearly state the terms of the trust, including the responsibilities of the trustee, and the rights of the beneficiaries.
  4. Execute The Trust Document: With the trust document prepared, sign it in the presence of the required number of witnesses. In Georgia, the trust document must be properly executed according to state law.
  5. Fund The Trust: After executing the trust, transfer ownership of your assets into the trust. This might involve changing titles or beneficiary designations or moving funds into trust-owned accounts.
  6. Maintenance Of The Trust: Regularly review and update the trust as needed. This could involve adding or removing assets, changing the beneficiaries or trustees, or altering other terms of the trust. Trust maintenance is vital to ensure that the trust continues to meet your needs and goals over time.

Common Mistakes When Setting up a Trust in Georgia

Common mistakes people make when setting up a trust in Georgia can undermine their estate planning efforts. 

Here are some typical errors and how to avoid them.

Lack Of Clarity In Trust Document

To ensure your wishes are carried out as intended, provide clear, explicit instructions in your trust document. 

Unclear terms can lead to disputes among beneficiaries or unintended distribution of assets. 

Work closely with an estate planning attorney in Georgia to create a comprehensive, unambiguous trust document.

Incorrectly Funding The Trust

Assets must be correctly transferred into your trust, a process known as “funding the trust”. 

If you fail to properly fund the trust, it may not provide the protection and benefits you intended. 

Each asset type requires a specific method of transfer. 

For instance, real estate requires a new deed, while bank accounts need a change in ownership or beneficiary designations.

Choosing The Wrong Trustee

A trustee manages and distributes trust assets, so select someone who is:

  • trustworthy
  • capable
  • willing to serve 

If you pick a person incapable of performing the trustee’s duties, your trust could be mismanaged. 

Consider the person’s financial acumen, reliability, and relationship with your beneficiaries when choosing a trustee.

Ignoring Tax Implications

Trusts have unique tax rules

Without careful planning, you or your beneficiaries could face unnecessary tax burdens. 

For instance, some trusts are subject to higher income tax rates, while others might trigger estate or gift taxes

It’s vital to understand these implications as you design your trust. 

Consult with an estate planning attorney knowledgeable in tax matters for guidance.

FAQs About Creating A Trust In Georgia

These are questions our clients ask us about creating a trust in Georgia. 

Can You Set Up A Trust Without An Attorney?

Yes, you can set up a trust without an attorney. 

The steps involved to set up a trust without an attorney include:

  • determining the type of trust
  • gathering the necessary information
  • drafting the trust document
  • signing and notarizing the document
  • then funding the trust

However, keep in mind that creating a trust involves complex legal and financial considerations. 

Mistakes can lead to serious consequences, such as:

  • invalidated trusts
  • conflicts among beneficiaries
  • unintended tax implications 

It’s possible to set up a trust on your own.

But it’s often recommended to seek professional assistance to ensure everything is done correctly and legally.

How Much Does It Cost To Set Up A Trust?

Setting up a trust involves various costs, depending largely on:

Here’s a general breakdown of the costs of setting up a trust:

  1. Attorney Fees: If you hire an attorney to draft your trust, expect to pay between $2,000 to $4,000 for a basic trust. More complex trusts, such as special needs trusts or tax-shelter trusts, can cost between $4,000 to $10,000 or more.
  2. Trustee Fees: If you appoint a professional trustee, they will charge for their services. Fees vary widely but might be a percentage of the trust assets, typically around 1%.
  3. Miscellaneous Costs: This includes costs like notary fees, document recording fees, or other administrative expenses. These are typically minor, usually under $100.
  4. Maintenance Costs: Trusts require ongoing administration. If you hire a professional for this, expect additional annual costs.

Set Up A Trust In Georgia

If you want help from a Georgia trust law firm, fill out the form below. 

At The Hive Law, we understand the importance of:

  • protecting your hard-earned assets 
  • ensuring your family’s future
  • not losing everything to creditors and lawsuits
  • properly (and legally) distributing assets 

We only accommodate a limited number of clients each month.

So don’t miss your opportunity to work with our trust fund lawyers.

Benefits of our trust services:

  • Tailored solutions to fit your unique needs and goals
  • Expert guidance in navigating complex tax and legal matters
  • Preservation of your wealth for future generations
  • Streamlined asset distribution according to your wishes

Avoid the pitfalls of inadequate estate planning strategies:

  • Creditors seizing your assets
  • Lawsuits jeopardizing your family’s financial security
  • Family disputes over inheritance
  • Costly and time-consuming probate processes

Talk soon.

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