A Last Will and Testament Georgia is a critical part of planning for the future. A Georgia estate lawyer can help you prepare and get your documents in order.
Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Faulkner Law, LLC
Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on June 11, 2019, last updated on September 30, 2019.
Last Will and Testament Georgia
Creating a last will and testament Georgia is a vital step in ensuring a comfortable future for your partner, children, other loved ones, and even your pets. A properly written document assigns someone to oversee the estate and settle all debts. It also provides for your family upon your death.
The process of writing a legally binding last will and testament in Georgia is a complex one. As wills and probate are both specialized legal fields, it would behoove you to retain an established business attorney, such as found at the Faulkner Law Offices in Marietta, GA. Stan Faulkner can provide you with guidance to secure your estate for your beneficiaries and loved ones.
What is a Georgia Last Will and Testament?
To ensure your property is distributed the way you want it to be, it is important that you write a Georgia Last Will and Testament. In Georgia, if you die without a will, your property will be distributed according to “intestacy” laws.
The intestacy law of Georgia – the law that comes into play if you pass away without a will – distributes property beginning with your spouse and kids. If you have neither spouse nor children, your parents will likely receive your property. The list continues on to remote relatives, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, and nieces. In case the court exhausts this list and you have no living relatives, the state will take your property.
The person for whom the Georgia last will and testament is written is referred to as the testator. You, the testator, may write a will for a variety of purposes. The most common, however, is to specify how your property should be divided upon death. These assets include, but are not limited to:
- Bank accounts
- Business holdings
- Real estate
Additionally, your last will and testament Georgia allows you to name specific individuals to roles of responsibility. You may name someone as the legal guardian of your minor children. You can also assign an executor to act as the representative of the estate. This person makes sure that the decisions outlined in the will are followed. If there is no will, probate courts make these arrangements.
The Importance of Writing a Georgia Will
Writing a Georgia will is only one aspect of properly planning your estate. To cover all aspects of estate planning, talk to a Georgia estate planning attorney and get your affairs in order. This is preferably done long before it is necessary, while you are still of sound body and mind. Although no one enjoys thinking about it, you never know what might happen in the future, so it’s wise to be prepared.
Although a last will and testament Georgia is not legally required, it is highly recommended. Without one, you have no binding evidence of your final wishes, which means that state laws of intestacy will determine how your assets are distributed. Your property may even be auctioned off to satisfy any remaining debts.
Legal Requirements of Georgia Wills
There are several basic elements that Georgia wills are required to have in order to be legally binding.
- Must be composed by someone of sound mind who is over age 14.
- Must be in writing.
- Must be signed by the testator or (if he/she is physically incapable) some other individual in the testator’s presence and under his/her direction.
- Must be personally attested to and subscribed by two or more competent witnesses in the presence of the testator.
Furthermore, any codicil, which is an addition, modification, or revocation of part of the last will and testament Georgia, must be carried out by the testator and attested and subscribed by witnesses in the same manner as the original will. Consult with a qualified estate attorney to ensure the changes are legally enforceable.
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Legal Georgia Will Forms
To simplify (or possibly confuse) matters, you don’t need a Georgia will form to construct a legally valid will. A Last Will and Testament can take many forms, as long as it satisfies certain requirements of the court.
To determine whether your written wishes constitute a binding will, one must be able to ascertain from the document that it conveys your (the testator’s) wishes for the distribution of your property to be carried out upon your death.
An estate planning attorney can help you write your will and help you navigate the complicated process.
Choosing a Sample Will Georgia
Although you aren’t required to use a sample will Georgia in order to write a legally enforceable final document, it definitely makes the process easier. To choose the right last will and testament Georgia, look for forms that only have fields that reflect those that are similar to your personal needs. Local lawyers can help point you in the right direction.
Last Will and Testament Template Georgia
An easy last will and testament template Georgia option can be found here. Merely print the form and neatly fill it out. However, to verify you completed it correctly, you should have a reputable attorney look it over.
Last Will and Testament Form Georgia
Unless you have extensive legal expertise yourself, a will and testament form Georgia is only a start. Retain diligent and experienced legal counsel to make any necessary adjustments.
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How to Write a Will in Georgia
When making arrangements for your estate, you should research how to write a will in Georgia. There are several specific elements that you need to include in your last will and testament Georgia to ensure that it is legal.
- Personal Information: The name of the testator needs to be typed or neatly written at the top of the document followed by the city and county of residence.
- Personal Representatives: List the name of the chosen executor and the name of an alternate in case the primary choice is unable to fulfill the duties. Include the city, county, and state of residence for each.
- Beneficiaries: List the full legal name, current address, relationship to the testator, the last four digits of the social security number for each beneficiary, as well as the property being bequeathed to each.
- Printed names, signatures, and current addresses of two or more witnesses
- Optional Notarization
In addition to drawing the last will and testament Georgia, an experienced and knowledgeable Georgia attorney like Stan Faulkner will also be able to efficiently represent your beneficiaries during the probate process.
Template of a Simple Will Georgia
For many without a large estate or multiple beneficiaries, a simple will Georgia is the preferred option. This example is perfect for those who want to make their wishes known without the added paperwork that accompanies a more detailed last will and testament Georgia.
Planning Your Will Georgia
Before writing your will, Georgia attorneys may want to discuss your legacy and options. An initial interview often lasts one to two hours. There, you can outline your goals and concerns enabling your legal counsel to establish the best ways to safeguard your legacy and the financial security of your family.
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How to File Wills in Georgia
Although it isn’t required, filing wills in Georgia gives you a safe place to store your last wishes. This ensures the document won’t become lost somewhere among your other papers after death.
You might also be able to include the contact information of those individuals you want notified that your last will and testament Georgia is on file. Although they will not have access to it before that date, upon your death, they will be able to retrieve it and submit it to probate court. This starts the probate process that ensures the will meets legal requirements and then distributes the assets accordingly.
Even though the probate procedure in Georgia does not require a lawyer, an expert probate attorney can help you file the probate petition and more efficiently manage the estate. In addition to reducing creditor exposure, spending less on taxes, and protecting your own interests, an estate and probate lawyer’s familiarity with the processes may save you time and trouble in the courts.
Does a Will Have to Be Notarized in Georgia?
With all of the other complexities, many people wonder, “Does a will have to be notarized in Georgia?” The short answer is “No.” Notarizing a last will and testament Georgia does, however, speed up the process in probate.
Georgia allows you to create what is known as a “self-proving” will. This means that the will is thoroughly verified upon being notarized. Otherwise, the probate court will need to contact the witnesses to testify that the will is valid. So, although it is not necessary that the will be notarized, it is suggested. A law firm familiar with the jurisdiction may be able to recommend a conveniently-located notary public.
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How to Probate a Will in Georgia
Even with a well-crafted will, you may still need to know how to probate a will in Georgia. Georgia accepts and encourages self-proved wills. For a will to be self-proved, it has to incorporate another document signed by witnesses of the testator, and also a notary public.
The validity of the will is attested to by the document when it was signed. Then, it meets the legal requirements of Georgia. Since estate planning is an important aspect to probating a will in Georgia, the right lawyer can lead you to the best plan.
Georgia Probate Law No Will
In some cases, you may be required in Georgia to probate when there’s no will. Generally, upon the death of the deceased, you’re required by law to submit the deceased’s will together with supporting documents to the Probate Court.
When an estate has no assets, then there might be no requirement to probate a will. Regardless, there’s no fee for submitting the will not for probate.
Additionally, if your loved one died with no Georgia will, you could request to probate the estate in the County Probate Court where he or she lived at the time of death. In occasions where your loved one didn’t live in Georgia at the time of death, you could petition to be appointed as the executor of the property in any Georgia County where he/she owned property.
Although the article What is probate? would help you understand the process, a probate attorney could also explain why and when it is necessary. Basically, a probate attorney can work as a liaison between executor and inheritance if needed, such as in circumstances where both do not get along.
Plus, if you decide to work with a probate attorney, they’re also able to help you in selling real estate, distributing assets to beneficiaries, paying real estate taxes, handling debts of property, and much more. Timely and appropriate management of those tasks can allow you to avoid probate court, saving money and hassle.
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Making an Online Will Georgia
Although Georgia wills are individual, making an online will in Georgia may ease the process in some cases. There’s no one online format that is best to use. You should make sure, though, that your last will and testament fully complies with jurisdiction laws.
Additionally, you may want to consult a lawyer in certain situations. For example, if you think your will could be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should definitely speak to an attorney. If you own your own business or have a complex estate, it’s also probably wise to consult an estate attorney.
Finding Georgia Wills Online
To easily write your last will and testament, use or refer to one of the Georgia wills online. These can be good resources for guiding you as to what to include in your will. However, every individual’s situation is different, from their finances to their property to who they want to include or exclude in the will.
With all of the nuance involved, your safest bet is to consult a lawyer who can assist in creating the will or at least review it when you have written a draft.
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Modifying Wills in Georgia
Although it is possible to make additions or modifications to wills in Georgia at any moment prior to the testator’s death, there are certain steps that must be followed. Generally, either a signed and witnessed codicil or a completely new will executed with the very same formalities must be constructed reflecting the new wishes.
There are several reasons that you may want to compose a new version of your last will and testament Georgia. Significant changes that may require an upgrade include the following:
- Birth or adoption of a child
- Relocating to another country
Also, if your spouse dies suddenly, it may be necessary to make adjustments to your will.
Additional Georgia Will Laws
In addition to the prior regulations listed regarding Georgia will laws, there are specific methods by which the documents can be legally revoked before death. The revocation may be either expressed or implied. To express that you are revoking a will, you would either destroy it or write another will that nullifies the previous one. To imply a revocation, you would merely write a second will with wishes that are inconsistent with those specified in the prior one.
To ensure your estate safely transfers to your beneficiaries upon your passing, and to verify that your last will and testament Georgia is, in fact, up-to-date with your current wishes, contact a reputable attorney. Peace of mind is, in fact, priceless.
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Faulkner Law is a boutique business and estate planning law practice that provides legal advice to some of the most innovative creatives and emerging entrepreneurs in the Atlanta, GA area. Faulkner Law serves all of Atlanta, Georgia, along with Cobb County, Cherokee County, Fulton County, Forsyth County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County, and Douglas County.