Every spring as you change the batteries in your smoke detectors and clean off your outdoor patio for summer cookouts, you should also check if you have all your legal documents up to date. You know you should have a Last Will and Testament (will), but do you have one? As we continue our ‘spring cleaning’ blogs, we will explain the importance of a will and why having a will in place can prevent future problems for your family.
What is a will?
A will is a legal document that gives instructions on how to handle your property when you die. It acts as a guide so your estate (real property, bank accounts, investments and your “stuff”) can be distributed according to your wishes. The experienced attorneys at Hurley Elder Care Law will work with you to draft a will specific to your needs that appoints an executor who will carry out the instructions specified in your will.
A will allows you to name the beneficiaries of your estate. Having a will is especially important if you have minor children because you are able to name a guardian for your children. A will is also needed if you own property.
When should I update my will?
If you already have a will but you have had a significant life event such as a birth, death, out of state move, divorce, or new health diagnosis you should have your will reviewed. Divorces and subsequent re-marriages can get quite sticky, especially with blended families. So, it is imperative that you create a new will in these situations. In addition, older wills that still include beneficiaries and/or executors who have died can also cause problems for your family. These are some examples of why it is critical that you have a current will.
What are the repercussions of dying without a will?
Dying without a Will can cause your family big problems and a lot of unnecessary stress and grief. If you die without a will, you are intestate and Georgia law will determine your asset distribution. A petition for administration must be submitted to the probate court and an administrator (someone who administers the estate of a deceased person) will be appointed and will be in charge of the process. Assets may be frozen until an administrator (usually a family member, friend or professional) is determined. The selection of an administrator can be contentious if there are strained family dynamics. Dying without a will means you don’t get to decide what happens to your assets and distribution is based on the Georgia rules of inheritance.
Lastly, it is always recommended you use an experienced elder law or estate planning attorney to create your will. Using an online do-it-yourself will can cause you major problems. With legal documents, it is best not to be “penny wise, pound foolish”. Call us today at 404-843-0121.
Subscribe to our blog and monthly newsletter.