Atlanta Estate Planning & Wills | Siedentopf Law

Estate Planning is for Every Family

Whether your family is big or small, well-established or newly minted, estate planning is truly for everyone, not just the wealthy! Atlanta estate planning firm Siedentopf Law can help you identify the options that will work best for you and your family.

We assist families of all shapes and sizes with their planning needs including drafting wills, creating advance health care directives, setting up trusts, establishing powers of attorney, guardianships for minors, end-of-life planning, identifying opportunities to avoid probate and more.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Life is full of surprises. Many are good, some…not so much. It’s important to have a plan in place that provides for your family and estate in any circumstance. Schedule an initial estate planning consultation today with Siedentopf Law to plan for your family’s future and provide for those you love.

Still curious about what is involved in estate planning and if you should have an estate plan? Read through some commonly asked questions about estate planning laws and rules in Georgia below, or submit your own questions via our contact form.

Which Estate Planning Documents Do I Need in Georgia?

The documents you need for estate planning in Atlanta and throughout Georgia vary depending on your situation, but here are the basics that apply to most.

Wills

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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