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 naming guardians for minors, end of life planning, and strategies to avoid probate. Siedentopf Law will help you consider what options are best for you. We strive to keep the estate planning process as stress-free as possible; we operate in a caring and relaxed office environment. Once you have made decisions you feel comfortable with, we will take the necessary steps to make sure that your wishes are carried out.
Which Documents Do I Need?
The answer varies depending on your situation, but there are some basics that are important for everyone.
This legal document passes on your assets as you direct, appoints a guardian for your minor children, and establishes who will be in charge of administering your estate.
Power of Attorney
Also known as a “durable financial power of attorney,” this document allows you to nominate someone to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to. This controls during your lifetime and can sometimes prevent the need for appointment of a legal guardian.
Advance Directive for Health Care
What other states call a “living will” or “medical power of attorney,” Georgia calls an Advance Directive for Health Care. This document appoints someone to make medical decisions for you in case you cannot and establishes your treatment preferences.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 provides medical data privacy. If you have not signed authorizations for trusted family members to have access to your medical records, medical providers won’t be able to give them information, even when you might want them to have it.
Designation of Standby Guardian
If you have a minor child, your will appoints a guardian for that child if you pass away. However, if you are alive but unable to care for your child, the will has no effect. A designation of Standby Guardian allows you to appoint someone with legal authority to care for your child in case of an emergency when you cannot do it yourself.
There are many types of trusts, some of which are free standing and some of which are included inside your will. Any time you own property in other states or might potentially pass assets to a minor child, you will want to consider a trust.
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 hand write 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: What does the “one year’s support” section mean?
A: In Georgia, a spouse and dependent children are entitled to a year’s support from the estate of the deceased. The 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.