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Writing Your Will in Georgia

September 8, 2008

To create a will in Georgia, the person creating the will (known as the testator) must be able to:

  • put their will in writing
  • understand the meaning of the document
  • be free of undue influence or duress, and
  • sign it in front of two witnesses.

A will remains in full effect until a new will replaces it or it is revoked. Written amendments to the will in the form of codicils require the same signing and witness formalities as a will.

The state of Georgia does not recognize holographic wills. A holographic will is one written in the testator's handwriting but not signed by any witness. See our interactive map on holographic wills for more information. Oral wills are not recognized in Georgia.

Limitations on Wills in Georgia

In Georgia, a surviving spouse , if not provided for in a will, has no right to elect or choose a "forced share" of the decedent's property. A will cannot distribute property that is co-owned or has a designated beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy. Additionally, a will cannot force a beneficiary to commit an act that is against the law or public policy in order to inherit under the will.

The Probate Process in Georgia

Probate is the court-supervised process in which a will's assets are transferred to the beneficiaries. The executor named in the will starts the process by filing the will with the probate court. He then gathers the assets, pays any creditor claims or bills, and following court approval, distributes the assets according to the will's instructions.

A beneficiary disputing the validity of the will may contest the will during probate of the estate. Generally, the beneficiary will allege that the will failed to comply with one or more of the legal requirements necessary to create a will.

If a person dies intestate (without a will), the court appoints an administrator to handle the estate. The decedent's assets are then distributed according to the Georgia statutory scheme for intestate distribution.

Advantages of a Will

One of the primary benefits of a will is that the testator maintains a degree of control over how his assets will be distributed following death and how his children (and their property) will be cared for. Without a will, the potential heirs of an estate will have to spend money and time to determine who will receive a share of the estate. In those cases, the estate will be distributed according to state intestacy laws and unintended beneficiaries, such as distant relative, may receive a share of the estate. If no relatives survive to take under intestacy law, the entire estate could potentially escheat to the state.

Questions & Answers: Making a Will in Georgia

In the State of Georgia is a holographic will legal and will it be reconized by the probate court, even if it has 2 witnesses and a notary. What Georgia code or law backs this up?...
I'm thinking my papa's will is fake. How are you supposed to tell?...
Joe, By definition, a holographic will is one that is not witnessed. So what you described is not a holographic will. Hannah, A handwriting expert should be able to detect a forge...
If I have written my will in my own handwriting and have it signed by two witnesses and I am of sound mind (free of undue influence or duress) when this is done, will this be a leg...
Rebecca, While we cannot give you legal advice, the four basic requirements for a will under Georgia law are: putting the will in writing, understanding the meaning of the documen...
If my father in law wrote a handwritten will leaving his home to his children, but is now deceased and the will was never probated. Is my living mother in law able to make a will r...
Comments (6)add comment
Joe11: ...
In the State of Georgia is a holographic will legal and will it be reconized by the probate court, even if it has 2 witnesses and a notary. What Georgia code or law backs this up?
1

October 13, 2012
Hannah Ellison: ...
I'm thinking my papa's will is fake. How are you supposed to tell?
2

December 01, 2012
Steven Daily: ...
Joe,
By definition, a holographic will is one that is not witnessed. So what you described is not a holographic will.

Hannah,
A handwriting expert should be able to detect a forged signature, if that's what you mean by "fake". Otherwise, what evidence or reason do you have to think the will is a fake?

Steve Daily
LawServer
3

December 01, 2012
Rebecca Fuller: ...
If I have written my will in my own handwriting and have it signed by two witnesses and I am of sound mind (free of undue influence or duress) when this is done, will this be a legal will in the state of Georgia?
4

December 10, 2012
Steven Daily: ...
Rebecca,
While we cannot give you legal advice, the four basic requirements for a will under Georgia law are: putting the will in writing, understanding the meaning of the document, being free of undue influence or duress, and signing it in front of two witnesses. You say the will was signed by two "witnesses", but it is very important that the person making the will signed it in the presence of those witnesses. They may be required to testify as to will signing. To be safe, consult with a Georgia estate planning attorney.

Steve Daily
LawServer
5

December 10, 2012
Pam Fields: ...
If my father in law wrote a handwritten will leaving his home to his children, but is now deceased and the will was never probated. Is my living mother in law able to make a will redistributing property?. She is also on the deed.
6

January 08, 2013

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