For many, real estate is a cornerstone of our dreams and a significant portion of our wealth. But what happens to this cherished property when you’re gone? This is where estate planning comes in, ensuring your legacy and minimizing stress for your loved ones. This blog explores how to leave real estate to someone through your estate plan.

Why Plan for Your Real Estate?

Without an estate plan, Georgia law dictates who inherits your property. This might not align with your wishes, potentially causing conflict and confusion during an already difficult time. An estate plan allows you to take control, specifying exactly who receives your real estate and how.

Your Toolbox for Real Estate Planning:

Here are some key tools available under Georgia law, each with its advantages and considerations:

  • Last Will and Testament: This is the most common option. Your will clearly outlines who inherits your property. However, keep in mind that wills go through probate, a court process that can be time-consuming and expensive. Consider including a residuary clause in your will to ensure any unforeseen assets are also distributed according to your wishes.

  • Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship: Adding someone to your property deed with “right of survivorship” means they automatically inherit it upon your passing, avoiding probate. But there are drawbacks. The co-owner can potentially sell the property or rack up debt attached to it, and you lose some control. This option might be suitable for married couples where both parties want the other to inherit automatically.

  • Revocable Living Trust: A trust allows you to retain control of your property during your lifetime, but upon your death, it transfers directly to your beneficiaries, bypassing probate. This can save time and money. You can also designate a successor trustee to manage the property if you become incapacitated. Living trusts can be more complex to set up than other options, so consulting with an estate planning attorney is recommended.

  • Transfer on Death Deed (TODD): Similar to joint ownership, a TODD lets you name a beneficiary who inherits the property directly upon your death, avoiding probate. This offers more control than joint ownership, as the beneficiary doesn’t have any rights to the property while you’re alive. However, TODDs may not be suitable for all situations, so discussing them with an attorney is crucial.


Additional Considerations For Real Estate In Your Estate Plan:

  • Beneficiary Designation: Review existing beneficiary designations on retirement accounts or life insurance policies to ensure they align with your estate plan. These assets may not be subject to your will and could pass directly to the named beneficiary, regardless of your will’s provisions.
  • Minor Beneficiaries: If you plan to leave property to minor children, consider naming a custodian or trustee in your estate plan to manage the assets until they reach adulthood.
  • Digital Assets: With the increasing importance of digital assets like online accounts and cryptocurrency, consider how you want these assets handled after your death. Some states allow you to designate beneficiaries for digital assets in your estate plan.


Taking Action for Peace of Mind:

Estate planning may seem daunting, but it’s a crucial step towards protecting your loved ones. By including your real estate in your plan, you’re gifting them clarity and avoiding unnecessary complications during a difficult time.

Contact Brian M Douglas & Associates today. Our team of experienced attorneys is here to guide you through the complexities of estate planning and ensure your legacy is protected. We can help you choose the most suitable options for your unique situation and create a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your wishes.