Did you know that August is “National Make a Will Month”? This may not be widely known but we are fully onboard with the intent of this recognition. This is the perfect time to be reminded of the importance of creating or updating your will. Don’t delay creating your will.
Why You Shouldn’t Delay Creating Your Will
Unfortunately, many people never take the time to draft a will. Thinking and talking about death is not fun or comfortable. It is so easy to put off until “another day”.
Some people have the misconception that only wealthy people need wills. This is not true! 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. Not sharing instructions with your family through a well-drafted will make the situation after your death complicated no matter how big or small your estate may be. Having everything in place should help bring more peace to your family after your passing and prevent family disagreements and a delay of settlements.
When Is it Time to 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 Happens if I Die Without a will?
As discussed, dying without a will can be problematic. 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.
Have we convinced you yet on the importance of creating a will with an experienced estate or elder law attorney? Regularly we assist families who do not have an updated and properly drafted will. Some people thought having a will is a ‘one and done’ document even when it is decades old while others thought they could save some money and use a ‘do-it-yourself’ will. We caution you against both ways of thinking. Instead, we hope you ‘don’t delay and do it.
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