What is a Will?

A will is a legal document that directs how most of your tangible property and some of your financial accounts are distributed upon your death.  This can include personal property like your home, your vehicles, and your jewelry, all the way down to things like a stamp collection and season tickets.  A will and its associated documents can ensure that some of your finances and possessions are used for a specific purpose, such as caring for children and pets.

For other documents that relate to your wishes while you are still living, please see the Estate Planning section of our site.

Who Needs a Will?

There is no getting around it – every adult needs a will.  If you have personal assets of any value, you need a will.

Why Does Every Adult Need a Will?

Failing to have a will at the time of your death can lead to substantial legal hardships for your family.  Without a will, your property goes through “intestate succession.”  Georgia laws provide for a long list of who gets what depending on your surviving family tree – a list with which you may not agree.  For example, many people assume that their assets will pass on to their surviving spouse upon death by default – this is not true in many situations, such as when children are involved.  While you may be fine with how Georgia law distributes your assets, your family will be required to go through the courts to have the property divided out.  This will place significant time and expense burdens on your family members during a time of mourning.  Even the closest of families can have significant disputes over various items, leading to legal fees and hurt feelings for all; indeed, some disputes may become so fierce that they require the sale of a property and division of the sale proceeds.  This could potentially lead to the sale of an item or property you very much wanted to keep in the family.

The examples in the above paragraph are based completely upon the personal experiences of myself and those very close to me.  If you don’t think these situations can happen to you, I would very strongly urge you to reconsider that stance.

Why Should I Hire an Attorney?

While there are plenty of self-help options available for low prices, each one will require a certain level of comfort with the subject matter – and as a general rule, the cheaper the option, the more research and work you will have to do yourself.  Continuing education courses on this subject are littered with recent cases showing that the courts are bound by the letter of the law, not the intent of the parties.  For example, a recent case where a mother named every item in her estate and left them all to her son, then inherited more property before dying, was not found to have also left the new property to her son.  In virtually every one of these cases, a well-drafted will would have avoided the problems that led to property going to the wrong person, expensive taxes being paid, and expensive litigation between family members emptying the coffers of the estate.

Fees for our firm to help plan your estate are only slightly higher than many of the do-it-yourself sites; additionally, we can offer more services than many self-help sites can offer due to their do-it-yourself nature.  Just a few hundred dollars extra pays for peace of mind about documents that will be very critical in your family’s future – and that few hundred dollars could save you and your family thousands (if not more) in taxes and/or future litigation fees.

If you are an adult and do not already have a will, or would like your will reviewed, please contact us today to get started.