Do you own a house, financial accounts, a life insurance policy, or other assets? If so, estate plans or wills can ensure that your assets are put in the right hands after you pass away. The reality is everyone has an estate, but it may be challenging to know what to do with it or what steps to take to make sure your legacy is protected. A will is a great starting point and an important estate planning tool that provides instruction on what happens to your assets after you die. But drafting a will is easier said than done, and minor mistakes can make your estate administration process reel off course. A qualified Atlanta will attorney can walk you through the process and ensure no errors are made. A trusted estate planning lawyer at Edwards Family Law will provide legal guidance to determine what type of will suits your situation and how you can build an estate plan to meet your goals.

Types of Wills

Four types of wills may meet your estate planning needs.

Simple Will

When you first imagine a will, you’ll probably think of a simple one. You can use a simple will to designate asset distribution, name who will be the guardian of your minor children, and the executor of your will.

Living Wills

A living will is a will you use to designate your wishes for medical treatment and end-of-life decisions if you become incapacitated.

Contrary to a simple will, it has nothing to do with asset distribution but may benefit your overall estate plan. You can add a living will to your advance directive or other legal documents to ensure your wishes are recognized.

Pour-over Will

A pour-over will is a type of will that works together with a revocable living trust. Any assets that were not in your trust at the time of your death will be “poured over” into it.

Joint Will 

As the name suggests, a joint will is a legal contract between two individuals that combines their individual wills into a single document.

This type of will is most often used for married couples and typically leaves assets to the other spouse or their children if they die. Joint wills can not be changed once set in place, which can become problematic if your plans change in the future.

Choosing a will is a complex process. Our elder law attorneys can help you decide what works for your family.

Legal Requirements for a Will

Creating a will in Atlanta, GA must meet specific requirements.

A valid will must meet the following guidelines:

  • The testator (the person creating the will) must be at least 14
  • The testator must be competent to create their own will
  • The will must be handwritten or typed
  • The testator must sign the will
  • Two witnesses must sign the will

Your will does not need to be notarized to be valid in Georgia, but it may benefit the probate process.

While it may seem easy to draft a will on your own, when it comes to creating a will, it’s more about the contents than the framework. The contents of a will should be clear enough to avoid confusion and detailed enough that you don’t leave anything out. A wills lawyer can help you decide what to include in your will and how to draft it to streamline probate administration.

Probate and Estate Administration

Almost all wills are subject to probate, also called estate administration. Probate is a legal process in which the executor of your will must gather, manage and distribute your assets as outlined in your will. The probate court oversees this process to ensure your affairs are not mismanaged and that owed taxes and debts are repaid. Unfortunately, this process can take months to complete, prolonging asset transfer and adding stress to an already intense situation. A probate attorney can help expedite or avoid the probate process by creating an estate plan that makes asset transfer seamless.

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

Dying without a will in Atlanta, GA can put your loved ones in a difficult situation. Ultimately, the courts will decide what happens to your assets according to Georgia’s intestate laws.

Here’s what would most likely happen:

  • If you have a spouse and no children, the entire estate goes to your spouse.
  • If you have a spouse and children, the estate will be split between the spouse and children.
  • If you have children and no spouse, the entire estate goes to your children.
  • If you have no spouse and no children, the whole estate goes to your parents.
  • If your parents are deceased, the estate goes to your siblings.

The intestate succession process would continue until the courts locate someone to whom to distribute your estate. Your assets can go to the state if they do not find a family member. Creating an estate plan can prevent your estate from getting into the wrong hands. Our estate planning attorneys will help you make an estate plan with asset protection.

Edwards Family Law: An Estate Planning Law Firm With Heart

At Edwards Family Law, your family is the center of everything we do. We are an experienced law firm serving Atlanta and the Atlanta area. We have decades of experience practicing law and work hard to develop an attorney-client relationship that gets you the results you want. Whether you need help with wealth planning, tax planning, business planning, or estate litigation—or want to help your family members avoid probate—our Atlanta will attorneys can help put those dreams within reach. We can help you create an estate plan that makes sense for your family so that you can sleep peacefully. Contact us today for a free consultation.


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What You Can Expect From Your Experience With Edwards Family Law

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    What You Can Expect From Your Experience With Edwards Family Law
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