The Essential Components of Writing a Will in Georgia

Writing a will is a crucial part of planning for the future. It’s a legally binding document that sets out your wishes in terms of your assets and care of your loved ones and ensures those wishes are carried out after you’re gone. 

It’s an essential part of responsible financial and familial planning, regardless of your age or personal and financial circumstances. It can feel like a big step to many people, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the process. That’s why we put together this resource — to guide you through each step with clarity and confidence.

What Happens If I Don’t Have a Will?

If you die without writing a will in Georgia, known as dying “intestate,” your assets will be distributed based on the state’s intestacy laws. They’ll be shared based on a predetermined hierarchy, including surviving spouses, children, parents, or other relatives. 

For instance, if you’re survived by just a spouse or just children, they would inherit everything. If you’re survived by a spouse and children, they would share your estate according to specific percentages outlined in the law. If you have no surviving spouse or descendants, your estate may pass to your parents, siblings, or more distant relatives. 

Intestacy can lead to outcomes that might not align with your wishes, and it doesn’t solve more complex circumstances, such as the care of minor children. Plus, your loved ones could also be left to deal with delays and additional expenses. Writing a will gives you and your family greater peace of mind, ensuring that your intentions are honored when the time comes.

What Should My Will Include? 

As an integral part of the overall estate planning process, writing your will is about more than just asset distribution. It should involve careful thought about the care of minors, healthcare directives, and other crucial aspects of the future after you’ve gone. Here are some things to include:

  • Your basic personal information: Begin your will by providing your full legal name, current address, and any other identifying details necessary for legal purposes. 
  • Legal language that declares testamentary intent: Clearly state that you are of sound mind and legal age to create a will and that the document reflects your intentions for the distribution of your estate upon your passing. This declaration helps prevent any challenges to the validity of the will.
  • Your appointed executor: This will be who is responsible for carrying out the instructions outlined in your will. Choose someone you trust, someone organized, responsible, and capable of handling the duties involved in settling your estate.
  • Your appointed guardian for dependents: If you have dependents, whether they’re minor children or pets, specify who will assume guardianship. This ensures their care and well-being according to your wishes.
  • A list of any properties and named beneficiaries: Provide a detailed inventory of your assets, including bank accounts, real estate properties, investment assets, digital assets, and businesses. Clearly identify each asset and indicate who will inherit or benefit from each item. Certain exceptions or specific bequests should also be noted.
  • Bank accounts and financial assets: Compile a list of all your bank accounts, including the name of the financial institution, branch address, type of account, and any relevant account numbers. Specify the location of canceled checks, bank statements, and safety deposit boxes, along with credit card information.

Consider a Letter of Intent

Consider including an accompanying letter of intent with your will, listing items typically not included in the will itself but important for your executor and loved ones to know. This may include:

  • People to be notified at the time of your death, such as your lawyer, executor, trustee, accountant, and federal pension authorities.
  • Location of personal documents, including birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas, vehicle registrations, deeds, and mortgage papers.
  • Listing of insurance policies, including life, auto, home, medical, and veterans’ insurance, along with the responsible agent’s contact information.
  • Any investments you hold, including mutual funds, stocks, bonds, and certificates of deposit, including the name and address of financial advisors.
  • Listing and location of valuables, including jewelry and other valuable items, and the intended recipients.
  • Website logins and passwords for digital assets, email accounts, social media, online banking, and investment services.

The will-writing process can be overwhelming, but our team at Black Oak Wealth Management is equipped to guide you through it, offering personalized advice and solutions tailored to your unique financial situation and goals. Contact us today to begin the conversation and take control of your legacy.