Wills and estate planning FAQ’s
By David Walker, Attorney at Law
Our office has been preparing wills and trusts, and handling probates and estates for three decades. Here are answers to some of the questions we hear most often.
Why make a will? You can plan who gets your property at your death. Without a will or other estate plan, state law says how your property will be divided. In Georgia the spouse and children will divide it equally, except a spouse cannot end up with less than 1/3. If you have no spouse or children, your parents would inherit. If they are deceased, your siblings would divide your property. If you have no siblings, your next of kin would inherit.
What are basic legal requirements of a will?
A will must be written, and witnessed by two persons. A person making a will has to be of sound mind when the will was made.
Do I have to locate witnesses to probate the will? Not if the will includes a self proving affidavit, which can be done at the time the will is signed.
What is probate? The will is filed and established as the genuine, most recent will. All heirs must be notified with opportunity to object. If no objections, probate can sometimes be accomplished in a few days.
How can a will be amended? Only in writing witnessed the same as an original will. Making changes by hand without witnesses can void the will. An amendment is called a codicil.
What other actions can void a will? The birth or adoption of a child, marriage, or divorce can do this. However, wills can be drafted to plan for these events so the will stays in effect.
Are there are alternatives to wills? One is a revocable trust. Assets are transferred to the trust. The trust names beneficiaries, so after the death, the property in the trust goes to the beneficiaries without having to probate a will. A backup will is included in case the person creating the trust neglects to transfer property into it.
What problems can a poorly drafted will have? Even if otherwise valid, a will that does not excuse the executor from filing an inventory of the estate, or purchasing a bond, can create headaches. A competent attorney can makes sure all these matters are covered in your will.
David Sinclair Walker, Jr. P.C. P.O.BOX 871329, Stone Mountain GA 30087;
North Gwinnett Office - 6340 Sugarloaf Parkway, Suite 200, Duluth GA 30097;
South Gwinnett Office - 2330 Scenic Highway, Snellville GA 30078
Telephone 770-972-3803; Facsimile 770-921-7418 email firstname.lastname@example.org
-Admitted in GA and D.C. -UGA Law ’76 -Certified Mediator -Georgia Bar No. 731725770) 972-3803 or visit http://www.walker-law-firm.com/