How To Make A Legal Will In Georgia

Legal Will In Georgia - What Makes A Will Legal In Georgia

Do you have a legal will in Georgia?

How do you make sure your will is legal under Georgia law?

Can you use your will to:

  • avoid the probate process
  • pass down your inheritance to beneficiaries
  • appoint an executor of a Georgia estate
  • create a legal document for your estate

We will dig into all of this.

Let’s dig in.

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Legal Wills In Georgia

You’re probably thinking about a legal will like this.

You have to get legal assistance from an estate planning lawyer in Georgia.

The truth is that you don’t.

A handwritten will or DIY will is just as legal as one a law firm creates.

But there are rules you have to follow in the state of Georgia to make it legal.

The steps to make a will legal are below in “What Makes A Will Legal In Georgia.“

What Is A Legal Will?

A legal will is a legal document that states who will inherit your belongings when you pass.

It’s also referred to as a Georgia last will and testament.

In Georgia, a legal will:

  • identifies the testator (decedent)
  • confirms the testator is of sound mind
  • names the beneficiaries of the estate
  • lists the assets that they will inherit
  • appoints the executor for estate administration
  • contains the testator’s full legal name and signature
  • contains two signatures from competent witnesses.

What makes it “legal” is whether it meets the requirements under Georgia law.

What To Include

A legal will should include everything in your estate, including things like:

  • real estate (primary residence and investment real estate)
  • real property (vehicles, antiques, family heirlooms, etc.)
  • who would be the guardian of minor children
  • bank accounts
  • what happens to your pets

How To Create A Legal Will In Georgia

Here are the steps to writing a legal will in Georgia:

  1. decide what property to include in your legal will
  2. determine who will inherit what from your estate
  3. choose an executor to manage creditors, debts, and assets
  4. choose a guardian if you have minor children
  5. choose someone to manage your children’s property (trusts work great)
  6. get the last will and testament template (online or from an estate planning lawyer)
  7. create your legal will
  8. sign your last will and testament form in front of competent witnesses
  9. store your will in a safe place

Do You Need A Lawyer To Make A Will In Georgia?

You do not need a lawyer to make a will in Georgia.

You can write your own will, have witnesses sign it, and have it notarized.

And you can do all of this without a lawyer.

What Makes A Will Legal In Georgia?

Under Georgia law, for it to be a valid will, a will in Georgia needs to:

  • have a testator that’s 14+ years of age and of sound mind
  • be typed up or written out (either is fine)
  • NOT be an audio or video recording
  • get witnessed by two competent witnesses, 14+ years of age
  • signed by the testator under their full legal name
  • get signed by those witnesses

Let’s talk about if you DON’T meet the will requirements in Georgia.

Is A Will Valid If Not Signed?

No, a will is not valid if it is not signed.

For a will to be valid, it has to get signed by:

  • the testator
  • two competent witnesses

Are Do It Yourself Wills Legal In Georgia?

Yes, Do-It-Yourself wills are legal in Georgia.

Just make sure that if you do a will yourself that it meets the will requirements.

Let’s say it doesn’t meet the Georgia laws’ requirements.

Then your do-it-yourself will is not going to be legal in Georgia.

Are Online Wills Legal In Georgia?

Yes, online wills are legal in Georgia.

Just make sure that if you do a will yourself that it meets the will requirements.

Let’s say it doesn’t meet the Georgia laws’ requirements.

Then your online will is not going to be legal in Georgia.

Is A Will Valid If Not Witnessed?

No, a will is not valid if there are not two witnesses who sign it.

And they have to see the testator sign the will.

What Invalidates A Will In Georgia?

Per Georgia code, a will is a holographic will in Georgia if it doesn’t:

  • get witnessed by two people
  • get signed by two competent witnesses (using their full legal names)

A will does not need to get notarized to be a legal will under Georgia law.

But, it helps the executor prove the validity of the will to the probate courts.

An estate planning attorney can:

Let’s say you have an old will that’s not legally binding.

You can also codicil your old will.

Codicil just means you’re creating an amendment to an old will.

Make sure that you follow the will requirements when you codicil an old will.

That way it’s a legal will in Georgia and the probate courts will accept it.

If you have an invalid will, you cannot probate that will

A self-proving will allows you to more easily probate a will without an attorney

What Happens If Your Legal Will Is Invalid?

Let’s say you try to file a legal will in Georgia that’s not valid.

In this case, you won’t be able to prove the validity of the will to the probate courts.

And the probate courts won’t honor your wishes with this holographic will.

They will settle your estate per the intestacy state laws in Georgia.

In this case, this means that:

  • your spouse and kids split the estate equally per individual
  • your spouse (with no kids) gets everything
  • your kids (with no spouse) get everything

If intestacy is what you DON’T want, you will need to create a new will.

Make Your Own Will Valid In Georgia

With a valid will, your estate gets passed down exactly how you want it to.

You can’t “avoid probate” with any will in Georgia.

You can only avoid probate by setting up trusts.

But a valid, legal will allows you to:

  • appoint an executor (personal representative) of your estate
  • distribute your estate how you see fit
  • exclude people from your inheritance if desired
  • change the allocations of how things get distributed
  • choose an advance directive for your healthcare needs

For example, people pass away and leave behind their surviving spouses.

Intestacy laws in Georgia would make your surviving spouse split the estate with the kids.

You may want to give your spouse the entire estate (including real estate).

And then let them pass the remaining estate to the kids once they pass.

That way, they aren’t left with minimal assets after you pass.

Note that you could do everything right and still not have a valid will.

If the testamentary capacity is in question, their own will can become invalid.

An estate planning attorney makes sure you meet all the proper requirements.

Can I Write My Own Will And Have It Notarized?

Yes, you can write your own will and have it notarized.

This is a legal will in Georgia and it’s a valid will.

This will also help prove the validity of your will in the state of Georgia.

Where To Get A Will Witnessed And Notarized

You can get a will witnessed and notarized with a local estate planning lawyer.

These law firms will provide you with witnesses, a notary, and self-proving affidavits.

Who Can Notarize A Will?

Anyone who has notary public can notarize a will.

This can be friends, bank personnel, a mobile notary, or a lawyer.

Estate Planning With Legal Wills In Georgia

We’ve talked about a lot of things for estate planning with this legal document.

Let’s talk about the best way to set things up with your last will and testament.

There are other things to consider for your family members, too.

You need to choose the appropriate loved ones as beneficiaries of things like:

  • retirement plans
  • life insurance policies
  • bank accounts
  • investment accounts

Your Georgia will can address these accounts for probate.

But, appointing beneficiaries means that you can avoid probate with these accounts.

This way, a testator can pass down property to beneficiaries immediately.

Get A Legal Will In Georgia

Let’s say you want a reliable, attorney-created legal will template and legal advice.

Our experienced, Atlanta estate planning attorneys will create your living will, which means:

  • you can make sure your doctors abide by the laws
  • you have confidence you have the correct living will set up
  • you don’t have to hire a notary to show up to the signing
  • you don’t have to find witnesses to show up at the signing
  • you get FREE revisions for 30 days

Fill out the form below and we will reach out and get the ball rolling.

Talk soon.

Get A FREE Consultation!
We run out of free consultations every month. Sign up to make sure you get your free consultation. (Free $350 value.)
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