In this new year, many of us have made resolutions to exercise, eat healthier and spend more time with friends and family. These are great resolutions and will certainly do your body and mind some good. However, unfortunately, being an adult also means taking time to take care of some necessary tasks such as paying bills, cleaning out our house and updating legal documents. None of these are ‘fun’, but they should help put your mind at ease and is a gift to your family. Let us explain why having a Last Will and Testament (will) is important and worth you addressing in 2022.
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 can 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 oversee 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. You can discuss your situation and wishes. We also suggest ways to keep your documents safe and accessible as well as recommend ways you can make sure other important accounts are checked and updated. Many people forget to change beneficiaries on older bank accounts, life insurance policies, and 401k plans.
Using an inexpensive online do-it-yourself will can cause you major problems. With legal documents, it is always best to consult an expert because we have all heard the saying ‘you get what you pay for’. Call Hurley Elder Care Law today at 404-843-0121 to speak with our experienced and knowledgeable team.
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