Without your own Will in place, just about all the decisions about your estate are left up to the state you live in. This includes how your property will be distributed, who is selected as your children’s guardian or caretaker, who will be the executor of your Will, and so on. If you are married and/or have children, our trust and estates attorneys recommend that you have a Will in place and that it be updated to reflect changes in your life such as new children, divorce, and marriage. Here’s a shortlist of what your Georgia Will lawyer can assist you with.
If you do not have a Will in place, the state will make this decision for you. If you die without a valid Will, your property will be distributed according to state law. This may or may not be the distribution that you would choose for yourself. State laws usually distribute your property to your family, but realize that your fiancé, favorite charity, or best friend are never going to be part of the state’s distribution order, no matter how close you were before. If you want to leave anything to charity, nonrelatives, or your alma mater when you die, you have to do that by creating a valid Will with a lawyer.
One of the most important reasons to create a Will is to name a guardian for your children. If something should happen to you and your spouse, who would be responsible for raising your children? Without this crucial document in place, this decision is made by the state.
You probably want the guardian you appoint to have similar values and parenting styles to yours, and to be healthy enough to be running after your little ones. If you can’t be there to raise your children, who do you trust to step in?
While it is not a pleasant possibility to think about, young parents do occasionally die long before their time. And if you don’t work with a lawyer to specify a guardian, the probate judge is going to have to name someone to be the guardian – and it may not be the person(s) that you would have chosen.
The executor is the person who will take care of things after you are gone. They will pay the funeral bills, sell or transfer title to your home and cars and report back to the Probate Court. This is an important position and it can take a lot of time and effort. Having a law firm write your Will gives you the opportunity to select who will have this important role. It is often a family member (but does not have to be).
So much of the benefit from creating a Will is for your family. Having your last wishes spelled out can make everything – from the funeral arrangements to who gets grandmother’s china – go a lot smoother.
We all know that life has a way of surprising us. You discover you are expecting another child…you move to a new state…you get divorced and remarried… All of these life events can change your estate plan and your Will should be updated to reflect your new life situation and preferences.
Do you need a Will? Call a Georiga Will laywer to schedule an appointment.