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Ensuring that wills reflect testators' wishes

Some people in Georgia are would rather complete a task they they are able to do themselves rather than hire someone else. Unfortunately, when it comes to certain tasks, many people without expertise can actually make serious mistakes. For example, many families with loved ones who created their own wills have found that the directions left in them are unclear, often requiring the courts to step in and make a decision, a process that can be lengthy and costly.

For example, some people may not fully understand how jointly held assets with a right to survivorship operate in the event that one of the people listed on the asset passes away. Regardless of what a will says, the asset will pass to whoever is listed on the account or property. For example, if a parent lists one child on a savings account, that account will pass to the child listed even if a will indicates that assets are to be split evenly.

Additionally, failing to address how an asset will be divided can create complications. For example, a man in Pennsylvania created his own will, making two specific requests to two of his children. He also specifically noted that he had intentionally left his three other children out of the will. Unfortunately, the will did not address how his almost $220,000 in cash would be divided, meaning that he had passed away partially intestate. As a result, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the money must be divided equally among all the children according to state law, even though the will stated that he was excluding the other three children.

The estate planning process, including the creation of wills, is often complicated, especially for people who have little experience with it. Having an experienced professional create a plan can help ensure that a person's wishes are accurately reflected in such documents. By seeking such help, a person in Georgia can help smooth the process of settling an estate for loved ones who are grieving a loss.

Source: poconorecord.com, "Preparing your own will may not distribute assets as you wish", Lori Cerato, Sept. 7, 2016

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