By: John Farrell
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Last Will and Testament
Need to Update Your Georgia Will or Create a New One?
Our Marietta law firm meticulously prepares your last will and testament to assure your wishes are followed.
Many Georgia residents without wills offer a number of reasons for not having a last will and testament prepared: they are too young to need to prepare for the end of their life, they do not have enough wealth to warrant that type of preparation, they are healthy and will not be at risk of death for many years to come.
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.
Whatever the reason for not having a will, it probably ignores the importance to loved ones that a decedent has properly planned for the worst.
Drafting a proper will in Georgia can be a daunting chore, largely because it requires considering priorities and accounting for your life’s assets in a seemingly more burdensome way than you would typically undergo.
It is The Farrell Law Firm’s mission to make your will preparation a source of assurance and security for you and your loved ones.
Beyond peace of mind, a properly arranged will can provide:
- Your children with a guardian hand-selected and appointed by you.
- Specific instructions about how all assets should be distributed.
- An executor of your choice to manage the estate through probate.
- Assurance that your possessions pass to those people you wish to have them.
- A trust for any minors named in your will.
Your will is a legal document that conveys your instructions to the courts, state, and, most importantly, your heirs how you wish to allocate your assets. This document can, and often does, take on a broader scope than just physical assets, and a will can extend to care for minor children and plans for business and other financial dealings.
At Farrell Law Firm, we know the ins and outs of Georgia’s estate and wills laws and our experienced team will prepare valid documents that meets all necessary conditions of the law.
What Will Happen If I Pass Without a Will in Georgia?
A person who passes without a will is characterized as having died “intestate.”
Intestate probate (who gets what) of property, assets, and other matters is then determined under the jurisdiction of a Georgia probate court. Probate courts must adhere to a set of legal rules in divvying an estate, and those may diverge from your pre-death wishes.
Obviously, your family and loved ones will not have a clear delineation of your wishes for your estate should you die intestate, so having a will is paramount not only to effectuating a clear and convenient disbursal of your assets, but also to giving peace of mind that assets, property, and planning flowed or were decided as you wished before death.
As of the time of this writing, Georgia’s intestate probate rules are as follows:
- For individuals who pass and are survived by a spouse and descendants: Both your surviving spouse and heirs share the estate’s assets equally, except the surviving spouse’s share may not be less than one-third of the estate.
- For those who pass and are survived only by a spouse: The entire estate passes to the spouse.
- For those survived only by parents: The parents will inherit equally the estate.
- For those survived only by siblings: This is the same, the siblings will inherit the entire probate estate.
- For those not survived by anyone: The entire estate will pass to the State of Georgia (called “escheat”).
Passing intestate can carry a degree of burden and lack of resolution that can be cured by the simple preparation of a will or other planning instrument. Let the capable attorneys at the Farrell Law Firm walk you through this process and ensure that the wealth you worked so hard to build is secured in its own right beyond your passing.
Call us today, because an experienced Marietta wills and estates lawyer can make a potentially burdensome process into a matter of simple document preparation.
The Basics of Georgia Wills Law—Ensuring a Valid Document
Georgia law dictates that no particular form is necessary to constitute a valid will.
When determining the validity of a will, courts will look to the instrument presented to them and determine whether the maker/preparer intended for the item to be a will.
Courts will consider the surrounding circumstances, which can include all manner of probing investigation of the situation contemporaneous to the preparation of the will.
A few basics about Georgia’s wills laws you may want to know:
- No one can force you into signing a will, as duress serves as an absolute bar to a will’s validity.
- The instrument you prepare can name an executor of a will, and an executor is the person who you trust or deem responsible enough to work through probate proceedings and manage your estate’s passage and debt payment, if any.
- You will require witnesses for your will, and those individuals should typically not be beneficiaries (unless two other non-beneficiaries serve as additional witnesses). We have office staff members who can witness your new will.
- You can, and should, update your will at various important points in your life including, but not limited to, marriage, divorce, major moves, or birth/adoption of children.
- You must be of legal age to create a will, and Georgia has the lowest legal age in the country -14 years old.
- You must be of “sound mind” when signing your will and agreeing to its terms, and this capacity question is an important consideration if the will is challenged.
- The will must be written to be valid, which means oral or video wills will not suffice on their own. A video however can aid in demonstrating sound mind and freedom from duress, if one is prepared at the time of creating a written will.
- In Georgia, you can leave assets to any persons or entities you wish, and that ranges from family to charities.
While some aspects of probate law can be straightforward, and the Georgia court system is competent and effective, leaving your estate up to the probate process can be a recipe for financial difficulties for your family and loves ones beyond just your passing.
Preparing a sound and valid will consistent with the rules dictated by Georgia will law can be a simple process with the assistance of experienced wills and trusts attorneys.
The Farrell Law Firm can help.
Our capable and dedicated wills and estates attorneys handle everything – meticulously and confidentially.
Call the Farrell Law Firm now at (678) 809-4922 or Connect Online 24/7 for all your estate planning needs.