Wills and Estate Planning in Georgia
Planning for the Future
It is vitally important to have a plan in place before you need it. Our office drafts wills, living wills, trusts and powers of attorney. We can also help with conservatorship and guardianship issues. We will help you consider what options are best for you in a relaxed and caring atmosphere. Once you have made decisions you feel comfortable with, we will take the necessary steps to make sure that your wishes are carried out.
FAQs regarding wills in Georgia
Q: If I write a will in my own handwriting, is it valid even if no one witnesses it?
A: This is called a "holographic will" and it is NOT valid in Georgia. You may certainly handwrite your will, it doesn't matter who puts the words down or whether they are typed or handwritten, but in Georgia a will is only valid if there are two witnesses who have signed it.
Q: Do I need a notary for my will?
A: If you have two witnesses and your will is notarized, it is called a "self-proving will" and the witnesses will not be required to testify in court that the signatures are theirs. This is the preferred way of having a will done, because it streamlines things, but the will is still completely valid with two witnesses and no notary.
Q: I don't like my spouse. Can I just leave him/her out of the will entirely?
A: Yes, you may. You may take anyone out of your will or put anyone in for any reason. However, in Georgia, a spouse and dependent children are entitled to a year's support from the estate of the deceased. If you leave your spouse something in the will, the spouse must choose between accepting that and getting the one year's support. If you don't leave anything, the spouse gets the one year's support still.
Q: What is this "one year's support" thing?
A: Georgia law provides that a spouse and/or minor children receive assets (this can include any kind of property, both personal and real) sufficient to maintain them for 12 months in the lifestyle they had beforehand. You must submit a request to the probate court specifically showing which assets are requested. The Court will consider the reasonableness of the request before making a decision, but will usually grant the request if there is no objection. These assets are given to the spouse and/or minor children before most debts of the estate are paid and before any other distributions are made.