Atlanta Estate Planning, Wills & Probate | Siedentopf Law

The Most Important Parts of a Will

Your Last Will and Testament is a very personal document and should be designed to reflect exactly how you want your estate to be handled at your death. That said, there are some basic commonalities that are included in most Wills that make sure your wishes are heard and carried out in the manner you desire.

These are the most important parts of a Will:

Information About the Testator and Their Family

The first element of your Will helps to identify who you and your family are clearly. You will provide your legal name, your marital status, and your spouse’s name (if any) and list all your children. All immediate family should be included in this designation, whether you intend for them to inherit your assets or not. If you plan to intentionally leave a direct heir (usually your child) out of your Will, this would be the proper place to first identify them, and second, to clearly state your intention not to include them in the distribution. You do not need to say why, but to prevent future issues or claims, your intention should be clear. At this point you can also name stepchildren and indicate your intentions to include or exclude them in your distribution.

Read about preventing disputes among your children.


The second item that must be included in your Will is your choice of Executor. The Executor, also called the personal representative, is the person or entity who will be responsible for making sure that the specifications in the rest of your Will are carried out according to your wishes. This choice should be carefully considered, as you want to be assured that your Executor will follow through with your plan for your beneficiaries in the manner you have spelled out. A decision about a backup Executor should also be included in your Will in the event that your chosen Executor should die before you, or be unable or unwilling to serve in this position. Providing for a backup, or even a third choice, will help you ensure that you do not need to continually update or change your Will as other people’s life circumstances change.


If you have minor children you need to provide for, you will want to specify a guardian who will be able to step in and care for them when you’re gone. This is one of the most important decisions you will make. The person or persons you name as guardian will step in for you to care for your loved one throughout their minority. You will want to consider many issues such as shared values, financial stability, longevity, and character. Most importantly, make sure they are willing to take on this position before you name them in your Will. This is a big responsibility, and it is not a position you want to spring on anyone unawares. As with your designation of Executor, you want to consider naming a backup to be safe. 

Many people also make provision for their pets through their Wills. Read more about this here.

Distribution of Assets

If you have assets, such as real property or family heirlooms, that you are fairly certain you will still own at your death, you can list them, with specificity, in your Will and indicate your desire for their distribution. Perhaps there is a family farm, or a specific piece of jewelry, that you want to remain in the family. Through your Will, you can designate to whom these particular items will pass. 

Any items of real or personal property not specifically named in your Will, or in a codicil to your Will, will become part of your residuary estate and will be distributed according to your instructions by your Executor. These assets can be liquidated or distributed directly. It is common to designate the distribution of your residuary estate by percentages to your heirs, as the exact value of your estate is usually not known ahead of time.

Signature and Witnesses

Of course, in order for your Will to be valid, it must be signed by you, but your Will must also be witnessed. The State of Georgia requires that your Will be witnessed by two competent persons who are 1) at least 14 years old, and 2) not heirs under your Will. Georgia does not require that a Will be notarized, but doing so saves potential problems later on and Siedentopf Law always suggests that your Will be notarized. We also encourage you to choose witnesses who are 18 or over.

Read More: What makes a Will valid in Georgia?

Let our experts help you plan with the most important parts of your Will.

There are other items that can be included in your Will if your situation warrants it. These can include trusts, special needs provisions, and other planning tools. The experts at Siedentopf Law will work through your particular needs and plans with you and design your estate documents to meet your goals for your family and loved ones. Contact us today to set up an appointment to begin the process together. 

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