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Atlanta Estate Planning, Wills & Probate | Siedentopf Law

What elements do you need for a will to be valid in Georgia?

5 Requirements for Georgia Wills

How to write a will in Georgia: For a will to be valid in Georgia, the testator must be 14 years or older and competent to create a will. The will must be in writing, signed by the testator, and signed by two witnesses.

A will, also known as a Last Will and Testament, is a legal document in which a person provides instructions for the distribution of their assets upon death. This document can also be used to designate a guardian for any minor children (children under the age of 18 years old). In order for a will to be valid in Georgia, you need to meet five requirements.

 1. The person creating the will in Georgia is 14 years or older

Under Georgia law, the testator needs to be at least 14 years or older to create a will. “Every individual 14 years of age or older may make a will, unless laboring under some legal disability arising either from a want of capacity or a want of perfect liberty of action” Georgia Code § 53-4-10(a). Under this standard the vast majority of Georgia residents are eligible to create a will.  Other states may have higher age requirements.

 2. The person creating the will is competent to create his or her will

For a will to be valid in Georgia, the person creating that will must have testamentary capacity. That means the person has a “decided and rational desire to create the will” and dispose of his or her property (Georgia Code § 53-4-11(a)). Capacity to execute a will is a less rigorous standard than general contractual capacity. The testator is also able to “freely and voluntarily” execute the will, meaning he or she is not being influenced or creating the will under misrepresentation or duress (Georgia Code § 53-4-12).

3. The will is written

For a will to be valid in Georgia, it must be written – either typed or by hand. (Georgia Code § 53-4-20). Oral wills, or wills that are recorded by audio or video, are not valid in Georgia. You can read more about handwritten wills here.

4. The will is signed by the testator

Under Georgia Law § 53-4-20, the testator must sign his or her will. The signature can be a sign, mark, or any name that is intended to authenticate the document as the testator’s will. If the testator is physically unable to sign the will, he or she may ask someone to sign the will on their behalf. “A will shall be in writing and shall be signed by the testator or by some other individual in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s express direction.”

5. Two witnesses must sign the will

For the will to be valid in Georgia, it must be properly witnessed – meaning that two competent people who are at least 14 years old must sign the legal document, while in the presence of the testator. (Georgia Code § 53-4-20(b) and § 53-4-22(a)). Holographic wills, which are wills that are written but not signed by two witnesses, are not valid in Georgia. We do recommend that all witnesses be at least 18 years old as a best practice.

Georgia does not require testators to notarize his or her will, but having the document notarized significantly speeds up and simplifies the probate process. If you have additional questions about creating a will, please contact Siedentopf Law at (404) 736-6066 or via our online form.

© Sarah Siedentopf and Siedentopf Law, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Siedentopf Law and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

*Testator: the person who created the will

Whether you’re in the Atlanta and Brookhaven areas, or in Cobb, DeKalb , Fulton, Gwinnett, or another county in metro Atlanta, we can help you. We can also work with executors by phone or video conference if they are out of state or far away. Only after listening carefully will we present the options that are right for you and explore the benefits and costs of each one. 

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