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Making Your Last Will and Testament with the prevalence of "do-it-yourself" will-making options on the internet many may wonder in this day and age whether you need a lawyer to draft a will anymore at all. This decision ultimately depends on your family and financial situation.

When should an attorney for wills be retained? Despite the assurances of "do-it-yourself" websites, consulting an attorney to prepare your will and other legal documents is almost always a good idea. Consider the following very common situations related to preparing a last will and testament. In these situations, it is almost essential that a competent attorney for will preparation and execution be engaged.

  1. You are leaving your assets to more than one person.
  2. You wish to specific individuals from your will to whom assets would normally pass by default (i.e. a spouse or children of current or a previous marriage etc....)
  3. You expect to leave a very large amount of assets and they will be subject to estate tax unless you engage in tax planning.
  4. You want to make more complex plans for what happens to it-for example, leaving your house in trust to your spouse until he or she dies and then having it pass to your children. Older people who have remarried often want to set up this type of trust.
  5. You own a business and have questions about the rights of surviving owners or your ownership share.
  6. You must make arrangements for long-term care of a beneficiary-for example, setting up a trust for an incapacitated or disadvantaged child.
  7. You fear someone will contest your will on grounds of fraud, or claim that you were unduly influenced or weren't of sound mind when you signed your will.
  8. You wish to prepare a full array of related legal documents such as a Power of Attorney, a Living Will, Advanced Medical directives, etc...
  9. You need financial advice on how to pass assets to heirs and minimize taxes and delays.
  10. You have certain estate planning questions and would like the certainty of having a lawyer consult with you and draft your will and other documents that may be necessary. These and many other common scenarios should lead you to seek out legal help. In addition, an attorney will look at the total picture of your concerns about your assets and your beneficiaries and can recommend a host of strategies that will keep more of your money in your hands and less in the hands of government. Spending a little money now to have a will drafted by an attorney can save your estate much more money later.

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Your Last Will and Testament Needs an Executor

An executor is a personal representative who acts to distribute your assets after your death. You can nominate or designate an executor in your will to settle your estate. While this person does not have to be a lawyer, the executor chosen has what is called a "fiduciary duty" - the duty to act

  • Locates and probates your will
  • Inventories and collects your assets (and sells them if necessary)
  • Pays legitimate creditor claims
  • Pays any taxes owed by your estate
  • Distributes any remaining assets to your beneficiary

Your executor is also entitled to a fee from your estate for services rendered. Note that this fee is generally also set by the executor and is not governed by any guidelines or restrictions.

Because of these reasons the inexperience can cause the estate disposition to drag on through probate court, and many hurt feelings can arise from decisions made by an executor who also has a fiduciary stake in the outcome.

Wills, powers of attorney, and health care directives are just some of the many estate planning tools that this law office offers to our estate planning clients.

Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney is a legal document that appoints someone to have certain powers that you have given them. By giving someone your power of attorney, you are allowing him, her, or the entity that you have appointed to act for you in certain kinds of situations. We can help you set up the powers of attorney that fits your specific needs:

  • Limited Power of Attorney-Sale of Assets
  • Limited Power of Attorney-Limited Duration
  • General Power of Attorney and Designation of Guardian (one Attorney-in-Fact)
  • General Power of Attorney and Designation of Guardian (Granted Jointly to Two Attorneys-in-Fact)
  • General Power of Attorney and Designation of Guardian (Becomes Effective upon Disability)
  • General Power of Attorney, with Elective Provisions, Including Gift-Making Provisions and Alternative Provision for Springing Power
  • Durable Financial Power of Attorney
  • Georgia Statutory Form for Financial Power of Attorney
  • IRS Power of Attorney-Form 2848, with Instructions
  • IRS Power of Attorney-Form 2848-D, with Instructions
  • Georgia Statutory Short Form Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care

A durable power of attorney is one that will either take effect or continue to take effect should you become incapacitated.

Health Care Directives

Also known as a living will, a health care directive allows you to state the medical care that you would like to have or wish to refuse in the event that you become incapacitated. If you have appointed a power of attorney for health care, he or she will be responsible for ensuring that your wishes in your health care directive are followed. Doctors and other medical providers are required by law to follow your wishes.


Whether your trust is a basic trust or a complex trust, our firm can simplify the process for you so that your assets are easily taken care of and ready for your beneficiaries when the time comes.

Probate or Administration of a Deceased's Estate

Our firm handles most all aspects of probating or administering of a deceased's estate.

Get started today by calling 478-621-7557.

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J. Britt Thames Attorney At Law is committed to answering your questions about Immigration Law, Immigration Bonds, DUI, Wills, Estates, Trusts, and Probate, and Criminal Law issues in Georgia.

We'll gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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