Why people need to have a will

It is true that people are living longer today, but many Georgia residents still die unexpectedly at a relatively young age. In spite of this, a poll conducted in 2011 found that 60 percent of the respondents did not have wills.

There are many good reasons to have a will drawn up. For one thing, personal assets will be distributed to beneficiaries in the manner the person making the will desires. If someone dies without a will, the state intestacy laws will govern. In some states, half of the decedent's assets will be given to the surviving spouse with the other half going to the children. The court may require a sale of the family home to meet that obligation.

Aside from financial and business arrangements, a testator can appoint a guardian to take care of minor children in the event of the death of both parents. This could be preferable to having the court make this type of a decision. The testator will most likely name a trusted individual as an executor to administer the estate, which can in some cases help to avoid family disputes.

Each state has its own laws regarding the preparation and execution of wills, including the number of witnesses that are required. Even when the testator has observed all requisite legal formalities, however, there can be the possibility that the document will be challenged in probate court. This could be based on undue influence or lack of mental capacity, for instance, and thus a testator may want to have legal assistance throughout the preparation process.

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