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Georgia Estate Planning: Everybody Needs a Will

I’ve been an Atlanta estate planning lawyer for several years, and on a regular basis I get new calls from people seeking help with an estate of a loved one who died intestate (i.e., without a Will).  Those calls usually begin with the caller complaining that the decedent made no Will.  Having represented dozens of clients dealing with intestate estates, I am immediately sympathetic. I can still help the caller but know from the start the process will be more complicated than it needed to be.

Rocket Lawyer, an online legal service provider, found in a recent estate planning survey that 61% of Americans do not have a Last Will and Testament. Even worse, that number climbs to 70% for people with children under 18 years old.  Failing to make a Will, especially for people in the latter category, will subject your estate to unnecessary difficulty and, in some cases, utter calamity through family infighting, incompetent estate administration, and litigation.

People have myriad reasons to not make a Will:

  • I’m young.
  • I don’t have kids.
  • I don’t own enough stuff.
  • I’m not sick.
  • I don’t want to think about death.
  • The law will take care of it.

All of the reasons above are understandable, but there is one indisputable reason every person should make a Will now that is more important than all the reasons above: everything in the above list can change… and you may not have a chance to make a Will when it does.

You may say to yourself, “If that happens, then I’ll get a Will.” I hope so, but changes in people’s lives literally happen overnight, such as a pregnancy, an illness, or a windfall. These moments can bring great pain or great joy, and a whole host of new, unexpected responsibilities and opportunities. Somewhere in the thick of it all, you think you’ll find the time to think about your Will, but the truth is that the vast majority of people put it off. Something always seems to take precedence.  Next thing you know…

Another thing to consider is who you want to manage your estate. If you don’t make a Will, you have no say in the matter, and the person you least expected (and least wanted) to act as personal representative may volunteer him or herself.  Also, you can use your Will to make your personal representative’s life much easier when it comes to administering your estate by providing for waivers of certain obligations and grants of certain powers.

Now is always a good time to make a Will. You can make a Will that contemplates all sorts of situations, even a Will that provides for a spouse and children you don’t have yet. “Okay,” you say, “but your list doesn’t include another important reason I can’t make a Will right now. I can’t afford it.” Don’t be so sure. Many of my clients thought the same thing until they called my firm. I’m willing work with you to ensure you have a Will at a cost you can afford.

In a follow-up post, I’ll discuss the variety of circumstances, financial scenarios, and family situations in which a properly prepared and executed Will can save a lot of people a lot of frustration and money.  I’ll also discuss other estate planning features you should consider such as powers-of-attorney and Georgia advanced healthcare directives.

If you have been thinking of making a Will, that’s a sure sign you should go ahead and do it. Email me or call me at my Atlanta estate planning office at 404-467-8613 to discuss how I can help you make your Will at an affordable price.

1175 Peachtree Street, N.E.
100 Colony Square, Suite 1450

Atlanta, GA 30361

Phone: 404-445-7771
Fax: 404-445-7774
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