Estate Planning: Last Will and Testament
If you pass away without a will, your estate will be handled in accordance with Georgia law. Georgia’s plan, however, may not be what you had in mind for your family and your assets. The only way to ensure that your assets go where you want and to whom you want is to have a valid will. Ensuring that your will is valid and that your final wishes will be carried out, however, can quickly become a complicated and overwhelming task. You don’t have to face it alone, though. We understand the importance of having valid will in place, and offer a variety of affordable estate planning packages to fit not just you and your family’s needs, but your budget as well.
What goes into a last will and Testament?
A will is, in essence, a list of specific instructions you wish to be carried out after you pass away. These instructions can govern several aspects of your affairs, including:
- How your assets are to be handled
- How your taxes and debts will be taken care of
- How you wish your remains to be disposed
- How you wish the remainder of your estate to be settled
- Who will be the guardian of your dependents
- Who will be in charge of making sure the instructions in your will are carried out
For a will to be valid in Georgia, it must be written and signed in accordance with Georgia Law. Notably, for a Georgia Court to deem a will valid, it must meet the following requirements:
- The will must be in writing
- The will must be signed by the person whose will it is, also known as the “Testator”
- The will must also be signed by two individuals who witness the Testator’s signature on the will. A witness must be at least 14 years old, of sound mind and body, and not in a position to inherit from the will.
If these requirements are not properly met, your will may be found invalid. Without a valid will, it will be up to state law to determine how you affairs will be handled, and any personal instructions you have provided may be disregarded.
Why should I have a Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare?
A Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare and a Financial Power of Attorney allow you to appoint a personal representative and give instructions in the event you should become incapacitated during your life. These differ from a last will and testament in that the last will and testament will take effect after you pass away. The Healthcare Directive and Power of Attorney, on the other hand, take effect during your life, but when you are in a state in which your are no longer able to make important decisions on your own behalf.
The Georgia Advance Directive for Healthcare allows you to choose a healthcare agent. The agent will make the healthcare decisions for you when you are unable to make such decisions or communicate your wishes. It allows you to guide your healthcare agent concerning the type and extent of treatment you will receive, including your preferences concerning life support and organ donation. If you become incapacitated, your family will have to make difficult decisions regarding your health on your behalf. The Healthcare Directive takes this burden off your family by clearly expressing your wishes in these matters.
Why should I have a Power of Attorney?
Just as the Healthcare Directive provides guidance for your healthcare decisions upon incapacitation, the Financial Power of Attorney provides guidance for your financial decisions. It allows you to appoint a personal representative to handle all your bank accounts, pay your bills, maintain your property, take care of your taxes, social security, and unemployment, and any other financial transaction that you are unable to take care of while you are incapacitated. This is crucial because, unfortunately, your bills and financial matters can’t always be put on hold when you become incapacitated. The Power of Attorney allows the appointed representative to maintain and conduct business on your behalf.