Do I need a will?

We hear this question quite a bit. An individual will call us asking, “Do I really need a will? My situation is really simple, and I don’t really own that much.” A will is a device that lets a person control who you want to give your assets to. Die without one, and the state decides who gets what, without regard to your wishes or your heirs’ needs. Georgia law provides that the deceased person’s closest relatives inherit his or her assets. For example, if a person dies while married, the spouse will inherit the estate. If there is a spouse and one child, each will inherit half. If there is a spouse and more than one child, the spouse will inherit one-third of the estate, and the children will inherit the remaining two-thirds (a spouse can never be left less than one-third of the estate according to intestate law). If the children are still minors, they will inherit their parent’s assets, and this may not be the best situation for obvious reasons.

In general, every person should have a will, regardless of total net worth or family situation. Certainly the simpler your situation is, the simpler of an estate plan you need, but very few people don’t need a will. If you have minor children, only a will names a guardian for those children. A will or a trust will also allow you to name someone to watch over assets for a disabled or elderly family member. And although it is true that not all assets are controlled by the terms of a will (e.g., bank accounts, trusts, annuities, and retirement accounts that have designated beneficiaries transfer to the named beneficiaries), you still may have a lot of other property that only a will can address. A will protects your wishes; if you fail to have one, the state divides up your property based on current intestate law. It will also make the life of those who survive you much easier. A properly executed and comprehensive will can ease the probate process and reduce family squabbles over belongings. If you are ready to create your will or would like to review your current will, please contact our office to start that process at (404)843-0121 or

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