Georgia Wills, Trust, and Probate
Depending on your individual situation, your estate plan may consist of several different documents, such as a will, trust, power of attorney in the event of incapacity, advanced care directive, or healthcare surrogate designation. However great or small your assets, and however old you are, it is important to continually update your will, even though it can be an emotional procedure. A Georgia wills and trusts lawyer can help you create and update your will and make the process less difficult.
Phrase your will in accordance with Georgia law. If you fail to do so, you run the risk that your will may not be considered legally binding, and that your property may not be allocated as you desire. Make sure that in drafting your Georgia will you have:
You do not have to make a self-proving will. However, the advantage of doing so is that your witnesses will not have to appear in court to attest to your will when your will is finally probated. Locating witnesses to appear in court after years have passed can be a complicated process, especially since a witness may have died or relocated. Find a Georgia lawyer who specializes in probate law to advise you on drafting your will in accordance with Georgia law.
Changing a Will in Georgia
In Georgia, you can modify your will by:
Either way you modify your will, you must ensure that you have the correct number of witnesses and that your will is properly phrased to guarantee that your property will be distributed as you desire. As such, you should be sure to inform your attorney of any modifications you make to your will.
If you seek to avoid the inflexible probate process and to avoid probate taxes, a trust is a useful and flexible mechanism for confidentially allocating your property post-mortem. You can set up a trust for almost any purpose. For example, you can create a special needs trust, educational trust, charitable trust, life insurance trust, or living (inter vivos) trust, to name a few. A trust can be quite complex to set up, so you should consult a Georgia estate planning attorney to help you create one.
If a deceased does not provide for the distribution of his assets in a will or a trust, the deceased’s property will be distributed by the Georgia law of intestate succession, or, by each person’s relationship to the deceased.
Sometimes when a will does not provide clear instructions on property distribution, or the deceased’s estate is distributed according to intestate succession, it is not evident who should receive what property or how much property each person should receive. If this is the case, any person who may have an interest in the estate may petition the court to make a determination on such questions.
The Georgia probate process may be avoided if the deceased’s estate qualifies under the No Administration law. The deceased’s estate will qualify if he left neither a will nor debts and if his heirs agree on the property’s distribution. In addition, unpaid wages, deposits, small tax refunds and un-cashed checks worth less than $10,000 also fall under Georgia’s No Administration law.
The following non-exclusive list of persons may receive property through intestate succession in Georgia:
Certain parts of your estate may not pass through the Georgia probate process:
After a will has been drafted, a will may still be challenged in Georgia. Contact a Georgia probate attorney if you are uncertain about your will.
Georgia Statutes, Title 53– Probate Code, Wills, Trusts, and Estates