In Georgia, if a person dies before drafting a will, also known as a last will and testament, all of that person’s property faces distribution based on state laws called intestacy laws. This allows the state to give the person’s property to his or her nearest relatives, starting with any children or a spouse. If the deceased has no living relatives, the state may take possession of his or her property.
Is a Last Will and Testament Required?
Georgia does not legally require a last will and testament, but without a will, state laws will determine the distribution of your property when you die. This may not coincide with your wishes, so it is advisable to create a will. Since no one knows exactly when he or she will die, it is important not to wait until it is too late to create one and make your wishes known.
What Are the Requirements When Creating a Will?
When creating a last will and testament in Georgia, there are a few requirements that must be met. It is advisable to have an estate planning attorney assist in drafting your will so that you meet all of the requirements. The basic requirements for creating a will are:
- You must be at least 14 years of age.
- You must sign the will with your own name or have another person sign it under your direction.
- Two witnesses of sound mind must be present when you or your designee sign the will. A witness can be one of the beneficiaries on the will, but the inheritance you gift to that witness will be void unless there are two or more other competent witnesses present who are not beneficiaries.
- All last will and testament documents must be in written form.
- You must be of sound mind.
- You may leave your assets to anyone you wish. These people or entities are beneficiaries and may include charities.
What Can a Last Will and Testament Do?
There are plenty of advantages to having a last will and testament. A will allows you to choose a personal representative to handle your estate. This person will carry out the wishes contained in the will. Your will also be able to do the following:
- Leave your assets and property to organizations or people.
- Nominate a guardian for your minor children.
- Name a trusted person to manage any property that you leave to your minor children.
- Designate an executor who will be responsible for making sure the necessary parties carry out the terms of your will.
Failure to have a will in place at the time of your death will result in the state determining all these things for you.
Revoking or Changing a Will
You can change your will any time before your death as long as you are still competent to do so. The changes must be in the same format as above. You can also entirely revoke your will by creating another written will or destroying your existing will. Beware of copies if you destroy your will. Getting married or divorced, or having or adopting a child after creating a will may modify or revoke certain portions of your will due to state laws if you choose not to make changes on your own. You should always update your will after marriage, divorce, adopting, or having a child.
Consult with an Estate Planning Attorney
While drafting your own will and testament may seem like a simple thing to do, in order for it to stand up in court and be valid, it is important to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney. Failing to follow all the laws when creating a will could result in the will not being valid and the future of your assets and even children being in the hands of the state. The attorneys at Lankford & Moore Law have experience helping families ensure their future wishes and can give you peace of mind knowing that yours are protected, too. Contact them today for a consultation.