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How to write a Will in Georgia

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Writing a Will isn't a difficult thing to do, but it's not easy. I've written before about why you shouldn't use Legalzoom and other online services to draft your Will and you can access that article here. Below, I will give a step-by-step guide on how to write a Will in Georgia, but a good place to start is with an experienced Marietta Estate Planning Attorney.

Note: If you want to brush up on the basics of Georgia estate planning (Wills, Probate, Power of Attorney, Revocable Trusts, Irrevocable Trusts and Advanced Healthcare Directives) take a look at these free ebooks.

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How to write a Will in Georgia

1. Define your estate planning goals

It is a good idea to begin your estate plan by identifying exactly what it is you want to accomplish. Of course, you want to make sure your property and assets are properly distributed upon your passing, but this can mean several things.

Ask yourself a few questions:

Do you want to choose who will raise your minor children?
Do you want to put aside protection for your adult special needs child?
Do you want to ensure your business enters the right hands if you become disabled or die?
Is there a group or charity you wish to support?
Do you want to minimize estate taxes, court fees, and legal expenses?

2. List your assets

This may seem fairly straightforward. You want to list what things of value will be left behind should you become incapacitated or pass away. This can include:

Real estate
Pensions plans
Checking and savings accounts

But it can also include things like:

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3. Choose your beneficiaries

List the individuals in your life whom you want to receive a portion of your estate upon your passing. Beneficiaries may be individuals like your spouse or children, or they could be a corporation or nonprofit organization.

4. Choose an Executor

An Executor, sometimes called a Personal Representative, is the person named in a Will, appointed by the Court, and is responsible for probating the Will and settling the Estate.

I've written further details about what an Executor does and you can access that article here.

5. Draft your Will

Your Last Will and Testament may be handwritten or typed. I recommend that your Will be typed, but a handwritten Will is valid in Georgia as long as it meets the other requirements to be a valid Will. I've written about whether a handwritten Will is valid in Georgia and you can access that article here. But, the most common type of Will is typed.

Note: Georgia requires Executors to post a surety bond and file inventories unless you waive the requirements in your Last Will and Testament. That's why it's a good idea to consult with an experienced Marietta Estate Planning Attorney who can walk you through the nuances of preparing a Last Will and Testament.

6. Sign your Last Will and Testament

Once you've prepared your Last Will and Testament (hopefully by typing it out), you'll need to sign the Will. However, you'll need to make sure you sign your Will in front of two disinterested witnesses who are of age to sign as witnesses to a Will. Again, I recommend you consult with an experienced Marietta Estate Planning Attorney who can ensure that the witnesses meet the requirements of the law.

7. Store your Last Will and Testament in a safe place

Once you've taken the time to prepare and execute a Last Will and Testament, it's important to make sure the original does not get lost. The reason is that Georgia law presumes you wanted to revoke your Last Will and Testament if your family can't find the original after you've passed away. So, store it somewhere safe and tell your family where it is.

As you can see, writing a Last Will and Testament in Georgia is not a difficult thing to do, but there are small nuances that make all the difference on how easy it will be for your family to probate your Will.

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John P. Farrell, Esq.

Mr. Farrell is the author of Estate Planning for the Modern Family: A Georgian's Guide to Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. You can learn about his book here and learn more about John here. Join the more than 1,500 people who subscribe to his Newsletter here. Feel free to send John a message here.

At the Farrell Law Firm, PC, we represent Georgia residents in Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Atlanta, Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Austell, Powder Springs, Clarkdale, Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Lebanon, Cartersville, Calhoun, Waleska, Woodstock, Alpharetta, Fairburn, Palmetto, Red Oak, Roswell, Dallas, Hiram, Dunwoody, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Cumming, Cobb County, Cherokee County, Bartow County, Fulton County, Douglas County, Gwinnett County, and Paulding County.