Write a Will

A will is a legal document that declares how property should be divided after a person dies.

A person can use a will to legally declare how their property should be divided and distributed when they die.

In Georgia, a valid will must be in writing and signed by either the person making the will or someone designated by the person making the will. A will prepared in another state may be valid in Georgia if it meets certain requirements.

If there is no valid will when someone dies, any property will be distributed to living relatives, such as a spouse and children, according to Georgia law.

How Do I … Write a Valid Will?

  • Get Prepared

    • You may wish to consult a lawyer before writing a will. You can find a lawyer through the State Bar of Georgia. If you are age 60 or older, you also can access legal assistance through the Department of Aging Services. Learn more about the Elderly Legal Assistance Program.
    • Decide who will be your will’s executor, or representative who will submit your will to the probate court and see to it that your wishes are carried out. If you do not name an executor in your will, a probate court will appoint someone.
    • Decide who will be a legal guardian for your children, if applicable.
  • Gather What You'll Need

    • List of all your assets, including real estate or personal property.
    • List of all beneficiaries, who are any people or organizations you want to include in your will.
    • Two witnesses to sign your will. These witnesses should not be beneficiaries.
  • Write a Will

    • Start your legal document by using the title “Last Will and Testament” and including personally identifiable information, such as your full name and address.
    • Name the executor as well as any legal guardians.
    • List your beneficiaries and what they should inherit. You may have close relatives, such as a child or spouse, that you wish to exclude from your will. You should specifically state this in your will so all parties clearly understand your intentions.
    • End with the signature of either the person making the will or someone else in the presence of and at the express request and direction of the person making the will. The will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the will.
  • Next Steps

    • A valid will does not expire after a certain amount of time, does not have to be notarized, and does not have to be submitted to a probate court in advance.
    • Review your will every few years or after any major life event, such as a birth or death. If you need to change your will, add an amendment, or codicil, to your existing will or revoke your will and make a new one.
    • Keep your will in a safe location. Make sure your executor can access the will upon your death.

Disclaimer: General This information was prepared as a public service of the State of Georgia to provide general information, not to advise on any specific legal problem. It is not, and cannot be construed to be, legal advice. If you have questions regarding any matter contained on this page, please contact the related agency.

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