Your Complete Guide for Establishing a Will in Georgia

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Establishing a will in Georgia is relatively straightforward, but there are some requirements to keep in mind. Learn more in this comprehensive guide.

Author: Paul Black

Paul’s experience as the son of two parents with big health challenges is what led him to the work he does today and gives him first-hand knowledge of the challenges that many caregivers and family members face. After graduation from GSU Law, Paul was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide as one of three 2010-2011 Borchard Foundation Law & Aging Fellows. Paul has been named as  a SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Estate Planning and as a member of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Published on: November 09, 2021.

Establish a Will While You Have Time

Establishing a Will While You Have Time section

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It’s never too early to start planning for your family’s future.

If you have questions, I’m here to help. There is no commitment and we provide free initial 15-minute phone calls. We look forward to meeting you.

It’s never too early to start planning for your family’s future.

If you have questions, I’m here to help. There is no commitment, and we provide free initial 15-minute phone calls. We look forward to meeting you.

Whatever your personal situation, you should consider a will establishment to put your wishes in a legally binding format and make your passing just a little less stressful for those that love you. While it is a task many find uncomfortable to think about, planning your estate is the responsible thing to do. Because your family members, especially your minor children, will be the ones suffering badly on your passing.

If you don’t have any life insurance policies or legally binding will, it is likely to create family conflict among those who feel that they are entitled to your money and property when it is placed in probate court.

To ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes without going to the probate court, it is optimal to contact a top estate planning attorney, such as The Law Office of Paul Black, located in Atlanta, Georgia. He can guide the process of will establishment, help you plan your estate, and keep your legal documents up-to-date and relevant over time.

How to Establish a Will in Atlanta, GA

You may believe that an estate involves large sums of money, investments, assets, personal finance, insurance policies, life insurance, legal entity, and a mansion. But everyone needs to know how to establish a will. The will establishment process could be a bit tough if you have many beneficiaries in your family or your loved ones. Your estate involves all of your money and physical belongings regardless of their financial worth. It lists your personal property/real property, names your beneficiaries, and designates an executor or personal representative to oversee the details of the will.

In addition to how you want your assets distributed, and depending on your specific situation, your will might address the following:

  • Name a guardian for minor children and arrange for their care. 
  • Create a testamentary trust and choose an executor for asset management.

If you die before creating a last will, you will be considered as having died intestate. This means all property will be distributed according to Georgia state law of descent to your closest heirs or relatives first. If there are no living heirs or extended family, your assets will be absorbed by the State.

If you care about your family and your children, you must be wondering and thinking for the betterment of them after your life. It’s not necessary to establish a will when you feel that now it’s high time you should convert your will to legal documents. Instead, with the help of your services, you can make it a bit earlier and can change it from time to time.

This is rarely in the manner you would have chosen for your personal items. So, to ensure your final wishes are followed and your assets are allocated to the individuals you intend, it’s vital to seek the help of a reputable law firm for a solid estate plan and a valid will.

Steps When Establishing a Living Will in Georgia

Estate planning covers many aspects, and if you want to ensure your wishes are adhered to, you need to know the steps to follow when establishing a living will. First, realize a will and a last will and testament are not synonymous. Each is a separate will that can be as detailed as necessary.

In GA, a living will is combined with the durable power of attorney for health care and is called an Advanced Directive. It is a legal document that describes what health care you want if you become incapacitated and who can make decisions on your behalf. It may also include funeral instructions.

How to Establish a Will in Atlanta GA

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Knowing the Georgia Will Requirements

Knowing the Georgia Will Requirements

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Before meeting with an attorney knowledgeable in estate planning, you should determine what Georgia’s will requirements are. This will help streamline the process. Generally, though, a written will can be legally valid if it has the following:

  • The person drafting it is at least 14 years of age.
  • The person drafting the will is legally competent.
  • The will is in writing.
  • The will is signed by the person drafting it.
  • The will is also signed by two witnesses.

Although Georgia is a self-proving affidavit that does not require wills to be notarized, doing so can simplify and speed up the process when it goes to probate. 

What You Need to Establish a Will

In addition to having an estate planning attorney, there are several things you need to establish a will. In addition to the aforementioned qualifications for the critical documents like being over age 14 and of sound mind, you should list your final wishes to the following:

  • Bank accounts, savings accounts, and other financial accounts
  • Cash
  • Family heirlooms
  • Furniture 
  • Houses
  • Jewelry
  • Life insurance policies
  • Personal property
  • Real estate
  • Retirement accounts
  • Vehicles

Preparing a last will and testament is specific to your individual circumstances, and although you can choose an online service or a self-help kit to make your will, that may be a mistake. In situations with complex financial matters or a disinherited spouse, you will want to retain the services of a skilled attorney to pour over the property held and ensure the most important things go to your loved ones.

An experienced professional familiar with estate planning with the ability to handle your will even in certain circumstances is a better option as you face this challenging process.

Why Do You Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Georgia?

Having your hard-earned money going under someone else’s possession is the worst possible thing that can happen once you die. There might be a legal heir that you want to disinherit or fear a contest that you can’t avoid. To prepare for such scenarios, it is best to consult with an attorney and find out the best legal options for you.

Your lawyer will help you understand the possible ways to create your will, minimize the inheritance tax and create a living trust for your loved ones according to state laws. Moreover, he can also advise you on drafting a will with appropriate sections to reflect your wishes.

How Much Does a Will Cost in the State of Georgia?

A person may avoid estate planning because it seems time-consuming, and they are unsure of how much a will costs. It depends on how complex the estate is.

Although writing it yourself may be less expensive, hiring a lawyer will ensure it is error-free and legally binding.

If you already have a last will, it doesn’t actually have to be your “last” will. You are entitled to change it by adding an amendment or codicil or revoking it and creating an entirely new will.

How Much Does Setting Up a Will Cost?

So, how much does setting up a will cost? With simple estates, the expense is less, wherewith estate documents placing elaborate assets in a living trust are much more costly.

How Much Does a Will Cost in the State of Georgia

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The Legal Process of Establishing Validity of a Will

The Legal Process of Establishing Validity of a Will

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The legal process of establishing the validity of a will can seem complicated. If all of the required elements are present, it is valid. However, suppose it is deemed invalid, or the person dies without an established will, according to Georgia’s intestate laws. In that case, the deceased’s spouse and children share the estate equally, with the spouse receiving at a minimum of one-third the total amount.

Without a surviving spouse or children, the property distribution process proceeds to other family members as follows:

  • Living parents of the deceased
  • Living siblings
  • Nearest living relative down the line of succession
  • The State

This will be handled during the probate process, which The Law Office of Paul Black would be happy to assist you with.

How to Legally Create a Will

Many people avoid estate planning because they feel intimidated, but it is merely a matter of knowing how to legally create a will and other estate planning documents. In many situations, people feel that they will find all the information required to handle legal issues independently with a brief Internet search. At the same time, estate planning needs the services of experienced people who can accommodate case to case. Who are fully informed about the important documents of a will, how to handle retirement accounts, considering minor children in your will, and so on.

Every crucial step that needs consideration of experience, here we are to give our best services for them.

Generally, however, some aspects are technical, and even the most meticulous individual may overlook simple elements that render the will, or other documents, invalid.

What Needs to Be in a Will in Atlanta

Although handwritten wishes on notebook paper may be binding in court, an attorney will express to you what needs to be in a will. The person writing it needs to be over the age of 14 in Georgia and legally competent, otherwise known as “of sound mind.” It must then be signed and dated before two witnesses sign and date the document, verifying its validity.

What Needs to Be Listed in a Will

To be binding, several elements need to be in a will. The document actually needs to be in writing, listing in detail the items the testator wants to bequeath and to whom. Your attorney might ask you to list items under specific categories like bank accounts, personal property, and real property.

Not only above, but an attorney may also ask you to list the names of beneficiaries for whom you want to establish your will, like your children, your family, your loved ones, and so on. Creating a list of beneficiaries and assets ensures you do not forget any crucial details and the process that should be considered.

Personal Information

Personal information should be mentioned in a will while you are establishing it. It should contain your complete name, your nicknames, children’s names, spouse names, their relations with you, and your home address.

Testamentary intent

Testamentary intent though a requirement of a valid will that’s why it should be in a legal language. It should not contain ambiguous words which cause reasons to be doubted. It must contain a legal language that makes sure that it is a legal will.

Assets and Beneficiaries

You need to list down the assets, belongings, high-value assets, and so on. Same as you need to list the beneficiaries of your assets. e.g., your children, spouse, parents, and those as well who are not your next of kin like your partners in a partnership if you want to give them from your estates. It is also necessary to pass the name of that person who can take part in your assets in case your primary beneficiaries are dead and unable to receive them.

Appointment of Executors

Our services of the executor are available to help you out implementing on a will after your passing. After passing, the estates will be going to your loved ones considering you have no debts, or it has then it will be paid first, and the estates will go according to your will.

Appointment of Guardian

You need to appoint a guardian of your child if you have a minor one. You should have to be appointed as well if you have a minor with disabilities. If you don’t appoint, the estate law will appoint itself for the care of your children.


Law states require the last will to be signed by testators and two witnesses. The witness’s signs make sure of the mental health and presence of the testator.

How Long Does It Take to Make a Will?

Although most people believe the time is money and that they will always have other opportunities to plan their estate, it’s good to know how long it takes to make a will because circumstances happen.

Depending on the complexity of your situation and the method you use to create your will, the process can take anywhere from under an hour to several weeks. Generally, working with a qualified attorney at a boutique law firm will reduce the amount of time it takes to create your will.

Choose a local estate planning attorney to help plan your estate and ensure your last wishes are fulfilled. Contact The Law Office of Paul Black for a free initial 15-minute phone consultation. If you choose to work with us, we will provide the sound legal advice you need to establish a will in GA.

What Needs to Be in a Will in Atlanta

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