This is the time of year when everyone reflects on the events of the previous year and makes goals for the New Year. One goal that should be at the top of your list this year should be to review your estate plan. What is an estate plan? An “estate plan” is a general term referring to the plans you make for who receives your property after you die. The most common way to establish this plan is by having a written will. A will, also referred to as “last will and testament”, is like a roadmap or set of directions for how to dispose of your property after your death. A will also allows you to name someone, referred to as an “Executor”, who will be in charge of making sure your property is disposed of according to the terms of the will.
With the continued development of legal resources on the Internet, it is possible to find draft wills you can complete. However, there really is no substitute for a personal meeting with an attorney when the topic is this important. For example, an interested party who is not happy with the way you want to dispose of your property at your death can file an action in court to get your will modified or dissolved entirely. A good attorney knows the right questions to ask and can assist you in drafting a will that will make it difficult for anyone to contest it.
Finally, it is important to remember that under Georgia law, if you do not have a written will, then the State of Georgia, not you, will decide what to do with your property once you die. It is not enough to simply tell your loved ones what you want to do with your property. You must have your wishes clearly defined in a valid and properly executed last will and testament.
As you finalize your goals for 2014, please remember to review your estate plan. Your loved ones will thank you for it.