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70 percent of Americans without wills

At some point in time, each Georgia resident will die. Yet, so many conduct their personal affairs in a manner suggesting that they expect to live forever. In fact, research shows that wills have not been created by approximately 70 percent of Americans.

A will is a legal document that specifies how an individual's estate should be handled upon death. Generally, the will identifies the individual's assets and exactly who should receive them. In some cases, the law dictates how certain assets must be distributed. For example, a spouse is entitled to a certain portion of the estate unless other arrangements were made with a prenuptial agreement. The will also allows the individual to leave assets to friends, other family members and charities.

Without a will, the family may face a lengthy, expensive process in disposing of the estate. In this case, it will be necessary for the matter to be brought before a probate court and then property will be divided based upon state laws of intestacy. When this happens, it is possible that someone whom the individual did not want to inherit will do so. Additionally, this process leaves the estate open to increased court costs and taxation that could have been avoided with proper planning.

Wills are created to give individuals a legal say in how their estate is handled. It is the individual's final opportunity to formally address loved ones and bequeath gifts to them. While an informal, handwritten will may be valid, most Georgia residents find it necessary to have one properly prepared by legal counsel.

Source: estate.findlaw.com, "Wills: An Overview", Accessed on Dec. 26, 2017

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At Hodges Law Firm, we handle a wide range of legal issues for clients throughout the Atlanta area, including elder law, estate planning, probate, Medicaid planning and protection, asset protection, litigation, and business law and services. We are knowledgeable in the law and understand the real life implications of legal actions.