Last Will & Testament Georgia
Planning for and preparing your Last Will & Testament is very specific to your particular circumstance and needs, therefore we have assembled a brief Q&A regarding the essentials related to the planning and preparation of your Last Will & Testament.
- What is a Will?
- What can a Will do?
- What a Will can’t do?
- Who should make a Will?
- When should a Lawyer’s services be utilized?
- What happens if you die without a Will?
- Can you make changes to your Will?
- Can you revoke your own Will?
- What are the requirements to make a valid Will?
- What are the specific requirements to make a valid Will in Georgia?
What Is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that determines to whom and how your property will pass after your death.
What Can a Will Do?
In addition to naming your beneficiaries and describing the property being distributed, a Will names a personal representative/executor to carry out the terms of the Will, names a guardian for any minor children; provides arrangements for the care of your minor children, and may create a testamentary trust and designate a trustee to management of certain assets for specific beneficiaries.
What a Will Can’t Do?
A Will cannot control distribution of property held as Joint Tenants with right of survivorship (which includes most joint bank accounts and brokerage accounts), or property transferred to a living trust. A Will cannot control distribution of proceeds of a Life Insurance Policy, money in a pension plan, IRA, 401(k) plan, or other retirement plan. However, you may on your own change the name of the beneficiary on the forms provided by the insurance company, financial institution, etc. A Will cannot cover stocks and bonds held in beneficiary forms. Additionally, a Will cannot cover money in a payable-on-death bank account, as a simple form can be obtained from your bank to change the beneficiary listed.
Who Should Make a Will?
Everyone who owns property, whether personal or real, should make a Will. There is absolutely no need to have a large estate to plan and prepare a Will. Individuals with cash, vehicles, jewelry, or furniture (personal property) should make a Will to distribute their assets. Additionally, individuals owning land and/or houses (real property) should make a Will.
If married, each spouse should make a Will distributing their assets and name guardians for minor children. Widows and single parents should also make a Will to dispose of their most valuable possessions.
When Should a Lawyer’s Services Be Utilized?
There are many self-help kits on the internet that allow individuals to prepare and plan their own Wills; however, certain situations may require the expertise of a licensed professional who has experience in the estate planning process. It is always better to have the assistance of an experienced attorney to guide you through the challenging process.
What Happens if You Die Without a Will?
If you die without a Will, you will have died intestate; meaning your property and belongings will be distributed through the strict descent and distribution laws of the State. In other words, without a Will, your possessions Will be dispersed to your closest relatives (heirs), and if you have no living heirs, to the State. Most of the time the distribution plan under the laws of descent and distribution is not what the individual would pick if a conscious decision were being made. Often times property is titled between the spouse and minor children, necessitating the appointment of a conservator for the minor children through the Probate Court, which is expensive, time consuming and cumbersome. Therefore, in order to protect your family and your belongings, it is extremely important that everyone makes a valid Will; otherwise the State will determine how your property is distributed.
Can You Make Changes to Your Will?
You may make changes to your Will whenever desired and should when your current situation changes. You may make changes by adding a codicil (amendment) to your existing Will or by creating an entirely new Will. In Georgia a codicil must be executed with the same formality as is required for the Will.
Can You Revoke Your Own Will?
Yes, you may revoke your own Will. You may revoke by: including a provision in a subsequent Will which revokes any prior Will, or by burning, canceling, tearing or obliterating your Will and any copies of it.
What Are the Requirements to Make a Valid Will?
To make a Will anywhere, the maker must be:
- At least 14 years old;
- Of sound mind;
- Free from duress, coercion; and
- Able to completely understand the nature of the property he/she owns, its general value, and who he/she wishes to receive it to upon his/her death.
What Are the Specific Requirements to Make a Valid Will in Georgia?
To create a valid Will in Georgia, the Will must be:
- In writing;
- Signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses; who attest and sign the Will as witnesses. A valid Will does not need to be notarized in Georgia, although most Wills have pre-proving affidavits attached that are notarized. The pre-proving affidavit obviates the need to locate the witnesses upon death of the individual making the Will.
Act Now and Prepare for the Future of Your Family
Protect what you have worked so hard to acquire, leave a legacy for those you hold dear to your heart. If you are interested in preparing a Last Will & Testament, or are still a little unsure and need more information, please contact us online or call our office at (770) 263-0093.
We are here to assist YOU in this process. We know that NO ONE wants to plan for the inevitable; however, having the proper estate planning protections in place will leave you with less worry, allowing you to spend quality time with your family and friends without the constant “what if” thoughts running through your mind
For over forty years, our clients have relied on Thomas E. Raines, PC to help them make prudent business, financial, and personal decisions in connection with preparation of a Last Will And Testament. If you need assistance in the area of preparation of a Last Will And Testament, please contact our Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer at Thomas E. Raines, PC immediately at 770-263-0093 or via email through the contact portion of this website by email.