Do you have a will?
That is, do you have a legal document that details your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and other important considerations like the legal care of your minor children upon your death? Between one-half and two-thirds of American adults do not have a will. But do you need one? The answer is a resounding “yes” if you answer any of the following questions in the affirmative:
- Do you care who gets your property if you die?
- Do you care who gets your money if you die?
- Do you care who is appointed guardian of your minor children if you die?
Why do I need a will?
You may think, “I don’t feel like I really need a will because I don’t have much to give away, and anyway, I don’t want to go through the hassle.” But, there are problems with this thinking.
First, one should not think of making a will as something that he or she does for himself or herself, especially since you are going to be dead at the time that your will becomes relevant. A will serves to dramatically aid your family and other loved ones in the time after your death, when those persons will already be experiencing significant emotional difficulty. The direction that you give in the will can drastically reduce the unnecessary confusion and stress that those individuals would have to experience if you die without a will and your estate must be administered through a long, complicated (and expensive) court process known as “probate”.
Through a will, you can name what is known as an “executor”, the person who you trust to have the authority to ensure that your wishes are carried out and to ensure that all of your affairs are in order – from paying off bills to cancelling credit cards. Regardless of how much or how little money you have, a will ensures that whatever personal belongings and assets you do have will go to family or the beneficiaries you designate. If you own a business, a will can help ensure smooth legal transition of those assets.
Second, if you think “I don’t have anything to give away” so a will would be pointless, you are failing to think through the possible scenarios of what may unfold at the time of your death. For example, even if you have nothing of value now – a possibility that seems unlikely – the events surrounding your death may give rise to your family and loved ones having a claim or right to money or other property. Say, for example, that your death is caused in an auto accident involving the negligence of a major trucking company or a medical accident involving the negligence of a major hospital. Then, your estate (property owned and debts owed at death) could go from having no value to being worth several million dollars, after receiving a judgment in a wrongful death suit.
Beyond your property and personal belongings, a will is a must if you have minor children. A will ensures that you get to choose your children’s legal guardian should you pass before your children are of legal adult age.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Although some may seek to draft their own wills, there are some major pitfalls those individuals will likely encounter. There are certain necessary components and technical requirements of creating a valid will in Georgia, and a knowledgeable and experienced Georgia attorney can guide you through the process of doing so. The attorneys at Berelc Law Office, P.C. understand the intricacies inherent in creating a valid and binding will, and we also have extensive contacts throughout the probate courts of Northeast Georgia. Please call us today at (706) 356-0518 to schedule a free consultation.