When to Change or Update your Georgia Will
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The following non-exhaustive list provides certain situations in which may it may be beneficial to update or re-draft your will and other essential Georgia estate planning documents:
If You Have Recently Moved to a New StateGenerally, so long as a will satisfies the requirements of the probate court of the state or country where one is "domiciled" when he or she dies, the will is valid, regardless of where it was drafted. However, different states have different formalities and therefore different definitions of what constitutes a "valid" will. "Domicile" refers to the principal place of residence, as opposed to a state where one may maintain a summer home or other real estate. Accordingly, if you are domiciled in Georgia when you die, any will (or living will and durable power of attorney for health care) must be drafted and executed in compliance with Georgia law or it may be declared invalid by a Georgia judge.
If Your Will Is Over 3 Years OldThe estate and gift tax laws have substantially changed in the last few years. Further changes are on the horizon. Moreover, as relationships and events change, many people change their mind about who they want to be the beneficiaries in their will. Persons with older wills would be wise to re-evaluate the tax consequences and beneficiary designations of their current estate plan.
If There Has Been a Change in Your Marital StatusIn Georgia, a will is revoked by operation of law if the testator gets married (O.C.G.A. ' 53-2-76), unless the will expressly provides for the "contemplation of such an event." Upon divorce, only the provisions of your will that pertain to your former spouse are revoked. Either way, it is best to have a lawyer review your estate plan to make sure that it works in the way you intended.
If You Have or Adopt ChildrenSimilar to the rule for marital status, In Georgia, a will is revoked by the subsequent birth of a child to the testator (O.C.G.A. ' 53-2-76), unless the will expressly provides for the "contemplation of such an event." Although our wills provide for the event of a child born after the will is executed, this is not always the case. You should review your will to confirm that the child is entitled to the share you intended.
If One of Your Children Dies
If Any of Your Children Die Before You, Leaving Their Own ChildrenAny grandchildren who have lost their parents may need more support than other grandchildren.
If You Inherit Anything of Financial ValueThe IRS taxes each estate when wealth is passed down to succeeding generations. Inheritances of most assets will be included in your estate for estate and gift tax purposes.
If Any of Your Beneficiaries DieIf you have not named an alternate beneficiary for a specific bequest, do you want it to go into the residuary? Do you now want the property earmarked for the deceased beneficiary to go to someone else?
If the Value of Your Estate Has Changed Significantly Since Your Will Was ExecutedEstate taxes range from 37% to 50%. If your estate has grown into a taxable estate, then without proper planning much of it could go to the government instead of your children or other chosen beneficiaries.
If Anyone Named to Care for Your Children Cannot ServeYou should revise your will if anyone named to care for your children can no longer do the job, including: personal guardian(s), successor personal guardian(s), custodian(s), successor custodian(s).
If Anyone You Named to Care for Your Property or Your Children's Property Cannot ServeYou should revise your will if anyone named to care for your property or your children's property can no longer do the job, including: property guardian(s), successor property guardian(s), trustee(s), and successor trustee(s).
If You Change Your Mind about Who You Want to Be the Executor or If Your Named Executor Cannot ServeThe importance of having someone you trust to be your Executor cannot be stressed enough.
If Your Will does not have a Self-Proving Affidavit AttachedA self-proving affidavit can dispense with the requirement that the witnesses to your will testify when you die. Many wills over 10-15 years old, don't include a self-proving affidavit. Do you know who witnessed your will?
If you need to have your will reviewed or if you were named as executor or if you may serve as fiduciary in the estate of a loved one who has died in Gwinnett County or metro-Atlanta, and you would like to learn more about your options, Charles Scholle can help. Based in Gwinnett County, Scholle Law represents clients throughout Metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. To discuss your case at a free, confidential phone consultation, please contact the firm online, Email, or call 866-972-5287 nationwide and 770-717-5100 in Atlanta. Will reviews are not covered under the free consultation offer.