Last Will and Testament Georgia Law


Speak with a trusted Last Will and Testament lawyer in Georgia.

Last Will and Testament Lawyer in Georgia

A Last Will and Testament is a critical part of planning for the future. A GA estate lawyer can help you prepare and get your documents in order.

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Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on June 19, 2021.

A Last Will and Testament is a critical part of planning for the future. It is a legal document that outlines how an individual’s assets will be managed after their death.

The purpose of a will is to protect their personal property and funds, so wills can be crucial when the testator’s estate is distributed between beneficiaries. A GA estate lawyer can help you prepare and get your documents in order.

Creating a will is a vital step in ensuring a comfortable future for your partner, minor children, other loved ones, and even your pets. A properly written document assigns someone to oversee the estate and settle all debts.

It also provides for your family upon your death. Basically, Georgia’s last will and testament is a legal record that contains your final wishes and instructions regarding how you would like to distribute your personal property, real estate, accounts, and other assets among your family members.

Related: Understanding Georgia Property Laws and Their Implications

Anybody can create a will. However, certain requirements have to be fulfilled for a Will to be considered binding under Georgia law. For example, the person who is writing a Will (testator) has to be of sound mind, and there has to be a self-proving affidavit.

The process of writing a legally binding will in GA is a complex one. As wills and probate are both specialized legal fields, it would behoove you to retain an established business attorney, such as found at the Perigon Legal Services in Marietta, GA. Stan Faulkner can provide you with guidance to secure your residence for your beneficiaries and loved ones.

What is a Georgia Last Will and Testament?

To ensure your property is distributed the way you want it to be, it is important that you create a will. If you die without a will, your personal property will be distributed according to “intestacy” laws.

The intestacy law of Georgia – the law that comes into play if you pass away without a will – distributes property beginning with your spouse and kids. If you have neither spouse nor children, your parents will likely receive your property. The list continues to remote relatives, including grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, and nieces. In case the court exhausts this list, and you have no living relatives, the state will take your property.

The person for whom the will is written is referred to as the testator. You, the testator, may write a will for a variety of purposes. The most common, however, is to specify how your property should be divided upon death. These assets include, but are not limited to:

  • Bank accounts
  • Business holdings
  • Cash
  • Jewelry
  • Property
  • Real estate
  • Vehicles

Additionally, your last will and testament allow you to name specific individuals to roles of responsibility. You may name someone as the legal guardian of your minor children. You can also assign an executor to act as the representative of the estate. This person makes sure that the decisions outlined in the will are followed. If there is no will, courts make these arrangements.

Legal Georgia Will Forms

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The Importance of Writing a Georgia Will

Writing a will is only one aspect of properly planning your estate. To cover all aspects of estate planning, talk to an estate-planning attorney and get your affairs in order. This is preferably done long before it is necessary, while you are still of sound body and mind. Although no one enjoys thinking about it, you never know what might happen in the future, so it’s wise to be prepared.

Although a will is not legally required, it is highly recommended. Without one, you have no binding evidence of your final wishes, which means that state laws of intestacy will determine how your assets are distributed. Your property may even be auctioned off to satisfy any remaining debts.


Legal Requirements of Georgia Wills

There are several basic elements that wills are required to have to be legally binding under Georgia law.

  1. Must be composed by someone of sound mind who is over age 14.
  2. It must be in writing.
  3. Must be signed by the testator or (if he/she is physically incapable) some other family member can sign the testator’s name in their presence and under his/her direction.
  4. Must be personally attested to and signed by two witnesses. The witnesses must sign the form while in the presence of whoever is making their final wishes known with those signature marks on paper.

However, not everyone can be credible witnesses to a will. Most states require that witnesses are adult individuals who won’t inherit anything under the terms of the will. That is because they may lose the inheritance. Under Georgia law (§ 53-4-23), the witness can lose what the testator has left them unless there are at least two other witnesses who are not beneficiaries under the existing will.

Furthermore, any codicil, which is an addition, modification, or revocation of part of the last will, must be carried out by the testator in the same manner as the original will. That means witnesses must also sign the modified will. Consult with a qualified estate attorney to ensure the changes are legally enforceable.

Legal Georgia Will Forms

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Legal Georgia Will Forms

To simplify (or possibly confuse) matters, you don’t need a will form to create a legally valid will. A will can take many forms, as long as it satisfies certain legal requirements

To determine whether your written demands constitute a binding will, one must be able to ascertain from the document that it conveys your (the testator’s) wishes for the distribution of your property to be carried out upon your death.

An estate planning attorney can help you write your will and help you navigate the complicated procedure.


Choosing a Sample Will Georgia

Although you aren’t required to use a sample Will to create a legally enforceable final document, it definitely makes the process easier. To choose the right will look for forms that only have fields that reflect those that are similar to your personal needs. Local lawyers can help point you in the right direction.


Georgia Last Will and Testament Template

An easy Georgia last will and testament template option can be found here. Merely print the form and neatly fill it out. However, to verify you completed it correctly, you should have a reputable attorney look it over.

For many without a large estate or multiple beneficiaries, a simple will is the preferred option. This example is perfect for those who want to make their wishes known without the added paperwork that accompanies a more detailed will.

How to Write a Will in Georgia

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Last Will and Testament Form Georgia

Unless you have extensive legal expertise yourself, a will and testament form is only a start. Retain a diligent and experienced lawyer to make any necessary adjustments.


Planning Your Will Georgia

Before writing your will, you may want to discuss your legacy and options with an attorney. An initial interview often lasts one to two hours. There, you can outline your goals and concerns, enabling your attorney to establish the best ways to safeguard your legacy and the financial security of your family.


How to Write a Will in Georgia

When making arrangements for your assets, you should research how to write a will. There are several specific elements that you need to include in your Georgia last will and testament to ensure that it is legal.

  • Personal Information: The name of the testator needs to be typed or neatly written at the top of the document followed by the city and county of residence.
  • Personal Representatives: List the name of the chosen executor and the name of an alternate in case the primary choice is unable to fulfill the duties. Include the city, county, and state of residence for each.
  • Beneficiaries: List the full legal name, current address, relationship to the testator, the last four digits of the social security number for each beneficiary, as well as the property being bequeathed to each.
  • Printed names, signatures, and current addresses of two witnesses or more
  • Optional Notarization

In addition to drawing the will, an experienced and knowledgeable attorney like Stan Faulkner will also be able to represent your beneficiaries during the probate process efficiently.

How to File Wills in Georgia

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How do I file a will in Georgia?

Although it isn’t required, filing wills gives you a safe place to store your last wishes. This ensures the document won’t become lost somewhere among your other papers after death.

You might also be able to include the contact information of those individuals you want notified that your last will and testament are on file. Although they will not have access to it before that date, upon your death, they will be able to retrieve it and submit it to the Probate Court. This starts the process that ensures the will meets legal requirements and then distributes the assets accordingly.

Even though the probate procedure in GA does not require a lawyer, an expert attorney can help you file the probate petition and more efficiently manage the estate. In addition to reducing creditor exposure, spending less on taxes, and protecting your own interests, estate and probate lawyer’s familiarity with the processes may save you time and trouble in the courts. 


Does a Will Have to Be Notarized in Georgia?

With all of the other complexities, many people wonder, “Does a will have to be notarized?” The short answer is “No.” Notarizing a will does, however, speed up the process in probate.

In this state, you create what is known as a “self-proving” will. This means that the will is thoroughly verified upon being notarized. Otherwise, the Probate Court will need to contact the witnesses to testify that the will is valid. So, although it is not necessary that the will be notarized, it is suggested. A law firm familiar with the jurisdiction may be able to recommend a conveniently located notary public.

How to Probate a Will in Georgia

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How to Probate a Will – Georgia Probate Court

Even with a well-crafted will, you may still need to know how to probate a will. GA accepts and encourages self-proved wills. For a will to be self-proved, it has to incorporate another document signed by the testator’s witnesses and a notary public.

The validity of the will is attested to by the document when it was signed. Since estate planning is an important aspect of probating a will, the right lawyer can lead you to the best plan.

Relevant: Estate Planning Attorney Marrieta GA


Georgia Probate Law No Will

In some cases, you may be required to probate when there’s no will. Generally, upon the death of the deceased, you’re required by law to submit the deceased’s will together with supporting documents to the Probate Court.

When an estate has no assets, then there might be no requirement to probate a will. Regardless, there’s no fee for submitting the will not for probate.

Additionally, if your loved one died with no will, you could request to probate the estate in the County Probate Court where he or she lived at the time of death. If your loved one didn’t live in GA at the time of death, you could petition to be appointed as the executor of the property in any county where he/she owned property.

Although the article What is probate? would help you understand the process, a probate attorney could also explain why and when it is necessary. Basically, a probate attorney can work as a liaison between executor and inheritance if needed, such as in circumstances where both do not get along.

Plus, if you decide to work with a probate attorney, they’re also able to help you in selling real estate, distributing assets to beneficiaries, paying real estate taxes, handling debts of property, and much more. Timely and appropriate management of those tasks can allow you to avoid the probate process, saving money and hassle.

Making an Online Will Georgia

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Making an Online Will Georgia

Although wills are individual, making an online will may ease the process in some cases. There’s no one online format that is best to use. You should make sure, though, that your will fully complies with jurisdiction regulations.

Additionally, you may want to consult a lawyer in certain situations. For example, if you think your will could be contested or if you want to disinherit your spouse, you should definitely speak to an attorney. If you own your own business or have a complex estate, it’s also probably wise to consult an estate attorney.


Finding Georgia Wills Online

To easily write your will, use or refer to one of the wills online. These can be good resources for guiding you as to what to include in your will. However, every individual’s situation is different, from their finances to their property to who they want to include or exclude in the will.

With all of the nuance involved, your safest bet is to consult a lawyer who can assist in creating the will or at least review it when you have written a draft.

Modifying Wills in Georgia

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Modifying Wills in Georgia

Although it is possible to make additions or modifications to wills at any moment before the testator’s demise, certain steps must be followed. Generally, either a signed and witnessed codicil or a completely new will executed with the very same formalities must be constructed reflecting the new wishes.

There are several reasons that you may want to compose a new version of your Georgia last will and testament. Significant changes that may require an upgrade include the following:

  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Divorce
  • Marriage
  • Relocating to another country

Also, if your spouse dies suddenly, it may be necessary to make adjustments to your will.


Additional Georgia Will Laws

In addition to the prior regulations listed regarding will laws, there are specific methods by which the documents can be legally revoked before death.

The revocation may be either expressed or implied. To express that you are revoking a will, you would either destroy it or write another will that nullifies the previous one. To imply a revocation, you would merely write a second will with inconsistent wishes to those specified in the prior one.

Your last will and testament are one of the most important forms you’ll ever approve. To ensure your assets safely transfer to your beneficiary upon passing, contact a reputable lawyer today!

Making an Online Will Georgia

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