What is a Will?
Here is a very, very basic breakdown of what a will is (and isn’t):
- A legal, binding document
- Goes into effect when you die
- Can be changed up until you die
- Needs to be signed in a certain way or isn’t valid and enforceable (subject to laws of state you live in)
- All signatures should be notarized (may not be required in some states)
- It is only one document in an Estate Plan
There is no set length of a last will and testament and typically there is not set format a will should be in to be effective. However, as stated above, in most states to be valid and enforceable a will, when signed, should follow certain procedures and include really important language. For example, no one should sign the will that directly inherits or could possibly inherit under the will. That is a biggie. That is a recipe for your will be thrown out and your CHOICE ignored.
Handwritten wills, the legal term for which is holographic, are NOT acceptable for any person for any reason in Georgia. Some states, however, do accept them or have some limited exceptions when they are allowable. So if you believe that your handwritten notes you leave behind for your family about the China Buffet in your dining room is going to be upheld in court, its very likely it won’t. If you believe the handwritten wishes about your burial will be upheld in court, its very likely it won’t. Both of these may show up in court and the decision makers may read them, but it won’t be a certainty that they will be followed!
So then just what does a will do for you?
It takes all that you want to have happen to your things, property and money, i.e. YOUR CHOICES, puts them in a formal, legal document that is enforceable and valid and provides you certainty what you want to have happen actually happens.
Why do you care?
Well, maybe you do not care where your things, property and money go when you die. But if you do, AT ALL, care about this and have an opinion …… then you need a will.
There are a few other things a will does for you and can do for you that could be important. Here is a list:
- Names the person responsible for carrying out your wishes. This person is referred to as an Executor.
There may be a lot of people who have ideas about what is supposed to happen to you, your stuff, your property, your money when you die. Your Executor is the person that will tell them, “That is great you loved DECEASED PERSON so much that you have an opinion about these things, but DECEASED PERSON has this all planned out and decided. I will make sure what she wants to have happen, happens.”
This person should be able to stand up to people without inserting THEIR opinion for yours. This person should have time to make sure your wishes are carried out as you desire. This person should have the ability to manage getting things done.
So its important you make the decision about who this is in your life and put it in writing in your will.
- Outlines what you want to have happen to your body after you pass away. This is sometimes referred to as the “disposition of your remains.” Yeah, it seems kind of cold to say it that way. But remember you are dead and something needs to happen to your body. You should make the decision of what happens.
There is burial, tradition or natural, as an option. There is cremation. Then there is what type of service, religious ceremony. There are decisions on how much money you wish to have spent on a burial or funeral. If you have an opinion, I recommend you put it in writing as part of your will.
If you have not figured out by now, it isn’t about the things, property or money when it comes to getting a will. It is about YOUR CHOICES. And, frankly, the gift of your choices you leave for those you love. The gift of these choices will help them know they are doing the right thing for you. This is really about the legacy you leave them, rather than the plethora of undecided questions. The gift is in the planning and organizing. Rather than in the unknow mountains of paperwork where something important may lie. The gift is in your loved ones knowing your thought about them and how they will feel when you pass away.
Getting a will is about love. That is what a will is: love.
If you want to show your love to your family, reach out to us and we can help you get a will in place that makes sense for you and your things, property and money.