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Everything You Need to Know About Estate Planning

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Reach Out to your Top Atlanta Estate Planning Attorney to Guide You Through the Atlanta Wills and Estate Planning Process

Nobody wants to think about handing over the reins if they’re incapacitated, but planning for that possibility can save your family tremendous stress and heartache. Sometimes, your family has to make that life-saving decision or honor your life-ending-plans, no matter how painful. That’s why Atlanta Estate Planning Firm Siedentopf Law helps individuals and families throughout the Atlanta and Brookhaven area with their estate planning needs, including trusts, probate, wills, advance directives, powers of attorney, guardianship, digital assets, and more. Having a written, legal plan in place makes those difficult times a little easier.

Who Needs An Estate Plan Or A Will?

Do you own a house? A life insurance plan? A family heirloom? Then you need an estate plan or a Will. If you own assets of any kind – no matter how small it may seem to you – know that you have an estate and therefore need an estate plan. Creating an estate plan is also especially important if you have a family or are planning to have one, and want to ensure that they will be taken care of.


Which Estate Planning Documents Do I Need in Georgia?

Every family should have a plan tailored to their unique and specific needs. Recent changes in Georgia and federal laws present new opportunities to take care of the ones you love, but these new laws also create possible hiccups in your previous estate plans. Whether you are looking to write your first will, modify an existing one, draft an advance directive for health care (living will), start the process of probate, or address any other estate planning issue, Siedentopf Law is here to help.

What should you know about each one of these estate planning tools before making up your mind?


A formal, legal will directs the distribution of your assets as you see fit. Wills can appoint a guardian for your minor children and establish who will be in charge of administering your estate.
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Powers of Attorney

Also known as a “durable financial power of attorney,” this allows you to nominate someone to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so. This controls during your lifetime and in certain circumstances can alleviate the need to appoint a legal guardian.
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Advance Directive for Health Care

What other states call a “living will” or “medical power of attorney”, Georgia calls an Advance Directive for Health Care. In this document, you establish your medical treatment preferences and appoint a specific person to make medical decisions on your behalf in the event you are incapable of doing so yourself.

HIPAA Authorization

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 provides for medical data privacy. If you have not legally authorized trusted family members to have access to your medical records, medical providers won’t be able to give them needed information, even when you might want them to have it.

Designation of Standby Guardian

If you have a minor child, your written will appoints a guardian for that child in the event of your passing. However, if you are alive but unable to care for your child for some reason, the will has no effect. A designation of Standby Guardian allows you to appoint someone with legal authority to care for your child in case of an emergency when you cannot care for them yourself.


Trusts help manage how and when your assets and property are distributed. There are many types of trusts, some of which are free standing and some of which are included within your will. Any time you own property in other states or might potentially pass assets to others, especially a minor child who may not yet be capable of properly handing an inheritance, you should seriously consider a trust. Click here to learn more.

FAQs regarding wills in Georgia

Q: If I manually handwrite my will, is it valid even if no one witnesses it?

A: A handwritten will is called a “holographic will” and it is NOT valid in Georgia. The issue is not the method of putting your wishes to paper - it doesn’t matter who puts the words down or whether they are typed or handwritten. Where the law draws the line is whether or not it was witnessed and signed. In Georgia, a will is only valid if there are two witnesses who have signed it.

Q: Do I need a notary for my will?

A: A notary is not necessary for a will in Georgia if there are two witnesses who have signed it – it will still be viewed as valid. However, it is preferred that your will be officially notarized as it can make enforcing it more efficient. A will that is notarized with a special affidavit and has two witnesses is called a “self-proving will.” This means the witnesses will not be required to testify in court that the signatures are theirs.

Q: What does the "one year's support" section mean?

A: In Georgia, a spouse and dependent children are entitled to one year’s support from the estate of the deceased. The law provides that they receive assets (which can include any kind of property, both personal and real) sufficient to maintain them for 12 months in the lifestyle they had beforehand. You must submit a request to the probate court specifically showing which assets are requested. The Court will consider the reasonableness of the request before making a decision, but usually grants the request if there is no objection. These assets are given to the spouse and/or minor children before most debts of the estate are paid and before any other distributions are made.

Contact The Atlanta Estate And Wills Planning Attorney at Siedentopf Law

The experienced attorney at Siedentopf Law has spent years advising Atlanta residents on the process of drafting a last will & testament and creating an estate plan. Not only will we help you create an estate plan, we’ll also help explain its contents to your beneficiaries.