What is a Will?

A testator creates a will, a legal document instructing how the testator would like their assets managed and distributed upon death. The testator selects an individual to finalize their wishes as instructed. This person is called an executor.

A will can also name a person who will become a legal guardian for children under 18 and a person to take care of your child’s property.

What Makes a Will Valid in Georgia?

In Georgia, anyone age 14 and older of sound mind can create a valid will. The testator must have testamentary capacity and be free of influence, meaning they weren’t coerced or influenced in any way and under duress to create the will.

For a will to be valid, it must be in writing, signed by the testator and two witnesses over 18. It is not a requirement to have the will notarized in Georgia, but it can help to ensure there is less question of validity for the courts in the future.

What Should I Avoid When Creating a Will?

Creating a digital will rather than a written one is legal in a few states. It is imperative to have a written will, signed by multiple parties, in Georgia for it to be valid.

Some important aspects to avoid including in your will would be your business interests. While there are ways to avoid probate courts, which can be timely, it is essential to leave out transfers and important information that must remain current out of probate to avoid untimely interruptions. Consult an experienced estate planning attorney to determine how to manage and protect your business upon death.

If there are time-sensitive or critical assets you wish not to go through probate, you should avoid mentioning these items in your will. By creating a trust or other estate plan components, you can address these assets and how you wish them to be distributed or managed.

Personal wishes or instructions for your funeral or shortly after you pass should also be kept out of your will and explained in detail to trusted family members. This is typically against what many expect that a will helps to determine. For those less experienced with wills and estate planning, it is common to assume that personal wishes, such as whether or not you wish to be cremated or buried or other specifics on your funeral wishes, will be included in your will. This is typically not the case.

What Types of Property Should I Leave Out of My Will?

Assets or property with a beneficiary designation is typically best kept out of the will. By naming a beneficiary, that person would ultimately obtain ownership of that item upon your passing. Examples include bank accounts, life insurance policies, or other investment accounts.

Property jointly owned, such as your home with your spouse, can be left out of the will. Upon your death, that property automatically transfers to the surviving joint owner and, therefore, can typically be left out of your will or other estate planning tools.

The property in a trust should also be left out of the will. It can be an invaluable resource to families to create a trust that includes how certain assets are handled after death. These items should be left out of the will to avoid confusion or conflict.

Property or assets you wish to leave to charitable organizations or pets should also be left out of the will. Instead, speak with your estate planning attorney to determine the most effective way to ensure your wishes are followed with gifts or assets you wish to leave to matters that mean the most to you.

Should I Include Instructions for My Loved One With Special Needs in My Will?

It is instinct to want to care for those we are leaving behind, and possibly even more, for those with special needs. Specific care instructions or assets you wish your loved one to receive are best detailed in a trust. A special needs trust, for example, can include protection of disability benefits, instructions on care for your special needs loved one, and more.

Can I Make Changes to My Will?

As life changes, so do needs or wishes. If you need to change your will, you can at any time as long as you still meet the requirements (of sound mind and without influence or coercion).

A best practice is to revoke your original will and create a new one. One way to achieve this is by Revocation of Will by Act. You can show intent to revoke your will by destroying it through burning, tearing, or other means of destroying your written will.

Create a new will to replace the original by following the information above to ensure it is valid and enforceable.

Competent and Compassionate Estate Planning Attorneys

Though it is hard for some to approach leaving their loved ones behind and creating an estate plan, it can be one of the most caring actions you take to ensure fewer questions or confusion upon your death.

By working with an experienced estate planning attorney, you can find peace of mind for you and your family in knowing you have reviewed your assets and personal wishes and made a plan for your loved ones.

Call our office today at 770-285-5493 to learn more about how we can provide an effective and comprehensive plan for you and your loved ones in the future.