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Last Will & Testament
A Will (also called a Last Will and Testament) is a legally binding document that facilitates your final wishes. A Will allows you to decide who will inherit your assets, choose who will handle your estate, and nominate someone to raise your kids if something happens to you and the other parent. Without a Will outlining your wishes, a court will make these decisions for you.
The estate planning attorneys at Thrift McLemore have the experience and knowledge of tax and probate law to customize a Will that meets your needs. Regardless of the size of your estate, there are many benefits of having a Will:
Decide who will inherit your assets
A Will allows you to decide who will inherit your assets upon your passing. You may name a person, a combination of people, and/or a charitable organization. You can also disinherit someone who would have otherwise been legally entitled to a portion of your estate.
Without a Will outlining your wishes, Georgia law dictates who will inherit your assets. Many people assume that a surviving spouse will automatically inherit all of their assets. This is not the case if you have living descendants (i.e., children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and so on).
Under Georgia law, if you left a surviving spouse and children, your spouse and children will share equally in the assets in the estate. However, the surviving spouse’s share shall not be less than one-third of the assets in the estate.
For example, if a person left a surviving spouse and two children, the spouse would inherit one-third of the probate estate and the children would each inherit one-third of the assets in the estate. If a person left a surviving spouse and three children, the spouse would inherit one-third of the estate and the children would share the remainder of the estate in equal portions.
Choose who will handle your estate
Your executor will be in charge of handling your estate after you pass away. Your executor’s job duties include gathering your assets, notifying your heirs and beneficiaries of your death, settling your debts, paying administrative expenses, filing necessary tax returns, and distributing your assets and other property.
Choosing the right person for the role is crucial to ensure your wishes are carried out and avoid conflict amongst your beneficiaries. In the absence of a Will or if the Will does not name an executor, a judge will appoint someone for the role.
Nominate who will raise your minor children
If you have children under 18 years old, the Will can nominate a guardian to care for your child or children if something happens to you and the other parent. Without a Will or without this provision, a judge will decide who will raise your children.
Protect what you care about most
For these reasons, every estate plan should include at least a Will. While some people decide that the Will is sufficient to accomplish their wishes, others decide to supplement the Will with a Living Trust. The estate planning attorneys at Thrift McLemore can help you decide whether a Will-based plan or a Trust-based plan is right for you and customize an estate plan that meets your needs.