Is a Self-Done Will Good Enough?

In some cases, a will that you prepare yourself and do not submit to an attorney for review may be good enough to hold muster in probate. However, even the state of Georgia itself admits that its laws are complex and that, “you may want to talk to an attorney early in the process of estate planning.” In general, you must have signed the will, and there should be two witnesses age 14 or older of sound mind who also sign it. The document does not necessarily have to be notarized, but doing so helps probate go more quickly and smoothly. You could type the will or write it by hand.

Nothing about that seems especially complicated, so what is the issue?

Ensuring it can be found

One problem with many self-done wills is that heirs may not know these wills exist. For example, suppose Grandpa drew up a will five years ago. His witnesses were Grandma and his brother, one of whom has died and one of whom has dementia now and does not remember anything about a will. When heirs do not know a will exists, it may be unlikely for them to ever find the will and for the probate court to follow the person’s wishes.

Safeguarding its legitimacy

There are many arguments that a person could make to contest the legitimacy of a will, for example, whether someone was competent enough to prepare one or whether there was undue influence. By doing or updating your will with an attorney, you can sidestep virtually all of these arguments.

Resolving complicated issues

Perhaps there are issues you have not thought of. If you have an adult child with a disability who requires care for the rest of his or her life, then leaving a significant amount of assets to that child could disqualify him or her from receiving government assistance. By discussing your ultimate goals with an attorney, the two of you might be able to identify better ways to achieve the results you want.

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