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What Is a Will in Georgia?

Posted by Joel Beck | Jan 15, 2024 | 0 Comments

Creating a will is a fundamental aspect of estate planning, especially in Georgia. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we believe everyone should have a comprehensive understanding of what a will is, its importance, and how it functions under Georgia law. A will is more than just a document; it's a reflection of your wishes and a plan for the future. Let's dive into the basics of wills in Georgia, ensuring you're well-informed and prepared.


Essentials of a Will in Georgia

  • Purpose of a Will: A will is a fundamental legal document that outlines how your assets and property should be distributed after you pass away. It's a way to ensure your wishes are known and followed regarding your estate.

  • Appointment of an Executor: One of the critical roles of a will is to name an executor. The executor is responsible for managing and settling your estate according to the instructions in your will. This includes distributing assets, paying any debts or taxes owed, and handling other administrative tasks.

  • Nominating Guardians for Minor Children: If you have minor children, a will allows you to nominate guardians. This is particularly important to ensure that, in the event of your death, your children will be cared for by the person or people you trust the most.

  • Legal Validity in Georgia: For a will to be legally valid in Georgia, it must comply with specific state laws and requirements. These include the age and mental capacity of the testator (the person making the will), as well as the manner in which the will is written and signed.

  • Effectiveness of the Will: A will comes into effect only after the death of the testator. Until then, the testator can change or revoke the will.

  • Consideration of Out-of-State Wills: If a will was created in another state, it should still be recognized in Georgia. However, because each state has its own laws governing wills, it's advisable to review and possibly revise an out-of-state will to ensure it aligns with Georgia's specific legal requirements and nuances, and it contains appropriate provisions to help streamline the probate process here in Georgia consistent with Georgia law.

Legal Requirements for a Valid Will in Georgia

Georgia law, specifically under Title 53, Chapter 4, outlines the requirements for a valid will. You must be at least 14 years old and mentally capable of understanding your actions. The will should be created voluntarily, free from external pressures. The will must be in writing and signed by the testator (the person making the will) in the presence of two disinterested witnesses, who also sign it. There are additional considerations if a witness is a beneficiary. Understanding these requirements is crucial to ensure your will stands in Georgia.


Further Insights on Wills in Georgia

In Georgia, a will doesn't need to be notarized or filed with the court when created. However, making it self-proving can streamline the probate process. This involves an affidavit signed by you and the witnesses in front of a notary public. Remember, you can modify or revoke your will anytime, as long as you're competent. Also, Georgia law doesn't obligate you to leave property to family members, offering you significant flexibility in your estate planning, though you should be aware that Georgia law provides a surviving spouse and surviving minor children the ability to seek a year's support from the probate estate, ahead of creditors and ahead of gifts make in the will.  So, if you intend to disinherit family members, working with an experienced attorney and exploring the right tools to use to accomplish your goals is especially important.


Partner with Peach State Wills & Trusts

While it's not mandatory to have an attorney for drafting a will, professional guidance is invaluable. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we're dedicated to ensuring your estate plan reflects your needs and complies with legal standards. Whether updating an existing will or creating a new one, our team is here to assist you every step of the way. And remember that estate planning is not a transaction or an isolated event, but rather is a process.  As your situation changes, and as the law changes, your plan may need to be updated from time to time to ensure it will continue to work as intended.  


Conclusion and Contact Information

Planning for the future is a crucial step, and understanding the intricacies of a will in Georgia is a part of that process. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we're committed to providing you with the knowledge and services to make informed decisions about your estate. If you have any questions or wish to start your estate planning journey, please contact us at 678-344-5342 or online.  If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached.

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


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At Peach State Wills and Trusts, a division of The Beck Law Firm, LLC, we're committed to answering your questions about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, uncontested probate, and business planning issues in Georgia.

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