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What is a Will? Why is it Important?

A will, also known as a "Last Will and Testament" in Georgia, is a legal document that explains how a person wants their property/possessions to be distributed upon their death. A will also allow the individual to appoint other people to important roles. This is why getting a will made after a divorce where children are involved is so critical. For example, if someone passes with minor children, a will gives them the ability to name a Guardian for their children. This person gains custodial rights to the children upon the biological parent's passing and will be responsible for caring for the children.

Creating a Will is the only way to ensure all of your belongings are distributed the way you intended them to be and that your family and children are protected. If you are interested in getting a will made to protect yourself and your family, please call (678) 879-9000 for a FREE telephone consultation with one of Meriwether & Tharp's experienced will & probate lawyers.

Meriwether & Tharp

Experienced Will & Probate Lawyers Throughout Atlanta

Who Should get a Will Made?

  • Parents & those who have minor children or dependents in their care
  • Those who recently went through a divorce
  • Anyone looking to avoid having their property & possessions distributed by the State
  • Anyone looking to avoid having their property & possessions accidentally distributed to an estranged relative
  • Anyone looking to save their loved ones the time & stress of going to court to probate their estate
  • Someone who wants to provide specific instructions for their funeral/arrangements

What Happens Without a Will vs. With a Will?


What Happens if I die Without a Will?


What happens if I die with a Will?

Passing away without a will being made.
What Happens if I die Without a Will?

Georgia has established its own set of laws called intestacy laws that govern how your belongings are distributed if you die without a will. If someone passes without a will, their possessions will be distributed according to Georgia's intestacy laws regardless of how the deceased wanted their possessions to be distributed. In that instance, the family of the deceased will have no control of the distribution. Essentially, the Probate Court of the county in which the deceased lived prior to their death will apply the laws of the state of Georgia to decide who probates the will, acts as trustee, and guardian for minor children regardless of who the deceased would have preferred.

Without a will, your family will likely have to deal with the stress and expense of going to court to have your property/possessions distributed. Further, Georgia's intestacy laws will govern your situation which could lead to your property/possessions being distributed to an estranged relative that you did not intend. However, intestacy laws are easily avoided by simply creating a will, which puts all the control in the hands of the individual.

Getting a will made before you die.
What happens if I die with a Will?

Once you get a will made, it will detail how your possessions are to be distributed. In addition, you will appoint other people into important roles such as the Executor/Executrix of your estate, the Trustee, and a Guardian, if necessary. The Executor/Executrix role is the individual who will be tasked with probating the will upon the death and ensuring that the items included in the Will are executed according to the deceased's wishes. The Trustee role puts a person in the position to control a trust, should the individual decide to leave assets in a trust after their passing. As mentioned above, if you pass with minor children, a will gives you the ability to name a Guardian for your children.

Lastly, preparing a Last Will and Testament gives family members the gift of assurance that their loved one's wishes are carried out in the manner they intended. These documents take a massive burden off of the family's shoulders by removing difficult decisions during an already difficult time since the deceased has already expressed their decisions. The benefits of preparing a Last Will and Testament and Advance Directive for Health Care are immense and the process is quite simple.

Why Hire M&T to Protect me with a Will?

The Value of Experience

Meriwether & Tharp has been practicing family law for over 25 years and we have helped numerous clients with creating a will or revising their previous will. You do not need to be a family law client to get a will made with us, we will help anyone in Georgia looking to have a Last Testament & Will made to protect themselves and their family.

Advance Directive for Health Care

When you retain Meriwether & Tharp for the preparation of your Last Will and Testament, we include in your package the preparation of your Advance Directive for Health Care. This is a document where you select who will serve as your Health Care Power of Attorney. That individual will have the authority to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to make them yourself. This document also allows you to express your medical treatment preferences and your postmortem intensions. While these are difficult decisions, this document allows you to ensure your wishes are known and relieves your family of having to make these decisions themselves.

How do I get started getting a Last Will & Testament made?

First, be sure to call (678) 879-9000 for a free telephone consultation with one of our experienced lawyers. After retaining Meriwether & Tharp to prepare your Last Will and Testament and Advance Directive of Health Care, you will be contacted by your attorney to schedule an initial estate planning meeting. We offer these meetings in person or virtually, whichever you prefer. At that meeting, you and your attorney will discuss your wishes to include how you would like your possessions to be distributed, who you would like to serve in the important roles discussed above, and any other specificities that apply to your individual situation.

After your initial estate planning meeting, your attorney will prepare the initial drafts of your documents and send them to you for your review. At that time, your attorney will make any additional revisions you would like. Once you approve the documents, we will schedule your Signing Ceremony. This takes place in person at one of our offices. Your attorney will review any remaining questions and you will sign your documents in front of our witnesses and notary, as required by Georgia law.

Roles in the Wills Process

When researching estate planning and the wills process, you may have heard the terms, "Executor", "Trustee", "Guardian" and "Health Care Agent". Who are these individuals and why are they important? It is important to understand the key differences and responsibilities between each role. Understanding these responsibilities will help you select the right person for the job so that you can rest easy knowing that you are taken care of in the event of your inability to make medical decisions or your passing.

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