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Wills preparation should not be put off

More than half of adults in the U.S. do not have an estate plan, and those who consider making one understandably want it to be as simple as possible. One industry that has assisted in this area is the do-it-yourself wills preparation websites. However, these generic forms do not allow for any unique circumstances the will creator, called a testator, may have, and they do not always comply with Georgia law.

Each state has its own laws when it comes to estate planning. This includes the factors required for a will to be valid. In Georgia, the testator must be at least 14 years old and have adequate mental capacity and freedom to act on his or her own behalf. Generally, this means the testator must know what it means to write a will and understand the meaning of its contents.

While some states allow for handwritten, or holographic, wills, Georgia does not, so a holographic will may face scrutiny in probate court. Wills must be typed or printed, and they must be signed in the presence of at least two competent witnesses. The testator may also attest to his or her signature in front of witnesses. Someone who is in the last days of a terminal illness may create a nuncupative, or oral, will if there are at least two witnesses present who will then transcribe the will within 30 days.

Nuncupative wills may also meet with scrutiny in probate court, especially if the testator’s illness or medication places his or her mental capacity in question. It is best not to wait until this point in one’s life to consider wills preparation. Seeking information from an attorney may provide peace of mind and confidence about one’s estate planning choices.