If you plan for the end of your life, you can save your family members lots of headaches and money. Creating estate planning documents such as a will, living will and powers of attorney can be very helpful. A will allows you the opportunity to control how your property (assets) is distributed after you die. A will allows you to distribute your property to your heirs, appoint an executor or executrix, and appoint a guardian for any minor or disabled children. Having a will can save time and money because it helps with the orderly distribution of your assets, and many times, it makes the probate go faster.
With a durable power of attorney for finances, you can appoint a person to manage your property and other financial matters. A durable power of attorney for health care allows you to appoint a person to make health care decisions on your behalf. The legal document that allows you to express your desires regarding the use of life-sustaining equipment is a living will. These documents are important if you are unable to make your own decisions regarding these matters. It is best to have these documents in place before you need them.
Did you know that many Americans do not have a will? No matter how little or much you own, you need a will if you want your assets distributed to the persons you want to have them. If you die without a valid will, your assets will be distributed based on Georgia’s intestacy laws. If you have minor children, you will want to specify who you want as a guardian of your children. Having a will does not make it valid. If you have gotten married, had children or adopted children since creating your last will, your will may be invalid. Check with your local probate court or an estate planning attorney to see if your will is up-to-date.
The legal requirements for a will in Georgia are: you must be at least 14 years old, be of sufficient mind and memory that you are creating a document to distribute your property after you die, the will must be in writing, and the will must be signed by you and witnessed by at lease two people who are not recipients of your property distributed by the will.
A letter of last instruction is typically used to let heirs know your wisher regarding funeral and burial instructions. Some people use it to let family members know how they feel about particular issues regarding their assets. Unlike a will, it is not a legally binding document.
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By Joanne Cavis