In Georgia, you can make a legal will at a younger age than anywhere else in the country -- the state’s statutes require that you only be 14 years of age or older. However, if a will is prepared not according to law, it is not accepted as valid and the estate is treated as though the testator, or the person who left it, did not have a will at all.
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Georgia only accepts wills in printed formats. Handwritten wills are not legal, with or without witnesses. The will must be signed by the testator and at least two impartial witnesses. If a testator cannot sign her own name, she can simply make a mark, or someone else may do it for her as long as it is not one of the witnesses. Georgia’s statutes for the signing of will include a “line of sight” rule. The witnesses must have a clear view of the testator’s hand making her signature, or of another individual doing it for her.
If a witness to a will is a beneficiary under its terms, he loses any inheritance or bequest he might have received unless there is a third, impartial witness. If he doesn’t forfeit his inheritance and there are not two additional witnesses who are not beneficiaries, the entire will may be invalidated.
Georgia is the only state in the country that allows you to disinherit your spouse. The state does not have an elective share law entitling her to a portion of your estate if you omit her from your will. The only protection that Georgia affords surviving spouses is a limited allowance from the estate for living expenses while the estate settles.
Proof of Authenticity
Georgia accepts and encourages self-proved wills. For a will to be self-proved, it must include a separate document signed by the testator, her witnesses, and a notary public. The document attests to the will’s validity and that it met all Georgia’s requirements when it was signed. When a will is not self-proved, at least one of the witnesses may be called upon to give testimony to the court when the testator passes away. At a minimum, a witness must complete a document called Interrogatories to Witness to Will that asks questions about the signing and requires an oath that all the answers given are true.
References & Resources
- MedLaw Plus: Georgia Legal Information – Last Will and Testament Statutes
- Law Info: Basic Requirements for a Last Will and Testament in Georgia
- Atlanta Estate Planning Lawyer Blog: Follow Georgia Will Execution Requirements to Ensure Your Will Is Valid and Avoid Will Contest Litigation
- BNet: Protection Against Spousal Disinheritance
- Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Getty Images