Why do I need a will in Georgia?

  • With a will, you decide how your estate will be distributed and you may dispose of your property as you choose. Without a will, your estate is distributed to your heirs, who are determined in accordance with state law.
  • With a will, you can direct that all of your estate be distributed to your surviving spouse. Without a will, your estate will be shared by your surviving spouse and children, including minor children.
  • With a will, you can nominate the person whom you want to be guardian of your minor children. Without a will, the choice of guardian will be determined by a court.
  • With a will, property can be distributed to trustees of your choice to manage the property on behalf of incapacitated adults, minor children, children with special needs or beneficiaries who might need protection from creditors and their own unwise decisions. Without a will, property might be distributed to these beneficiaries outright or to a conservator chosen by a court, and minor children will receive their property upon reaching age 18.
  • With a will, you can direct that your property be available to your surviving spouse during his or her lifetime and pass to your children–perhaps children from a previous marriage–upon the surviving spouse’s death. Without a will, the property that is distributed to your surviving spouse will be distributed upon his or her death as your surviving spouse decides.
  • With a will, you choose the person, bank or trust company to serve as executor of your estate. The executor will manage and distribute your estate in accordance with the law and the terms of your will. Without a will, a court chooses an administrator of your estate at the request of your heirs, who may or may not agree on the choice.
  • With a will, your executor can be given full powers to sell your property and manage it without requesting permission of a court. Without a will, your heirs must petition a court for the administrator to be granted these powers.
  • With a will, you can provide that your executor serve without posting a surety bond and filing an inventory or periodic reports to a court. Without a will, your heirs must petition a court to relieve the administrator of these duties.
  • With a will, you can provide for gifts to charity out of your estate. Without a will, all of your property will be distributed to your heirs.
  • With a will, you can structure an estate plan to reduce federal estate taxes. Without a will, your estate may owe more in taxes than it would with a properly structured estate plan.

Source: State Bar of Georgia

Have more questions? Please call our experienced Marietta wills and probate attorneys for an in-depth strategy and planning session at 770-425-6060 or fill out an online contact form.

How Much Do You Charge For “IT” (A Will or Living Trust)? An Atlanta Estate Planning Attorney Explains

How Much Do You Charge For “IT” (A Will or Living Trust)? An Atlanta Estate Planning Attorney Explains

Family_Estate_PlanningVery frequently, we get a call from someone who is ready to make an appointment for a Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session, but wants to know “How Much Will “It” Cost?” “It” here refers to a will or trust or other legal planning document; i.e., “How Much Does a Will Cost” or “How Much is a Living Trust”? Let’s imagine you have that question. Here is what I would tell you.

Before we talk about fees, it’s important for you to understand how our firm is different than traditional law firms. First of all, we don’t bill anything on an hourly basis, so you never have to worry about any surprises when it comes to what something will cost. Everything is flat fee and discussed up front, so you will never get a surprise bill in the mail. With a traditional law firm, you might expect to pay $500-$3,000 for a typical set of estate planning documents. In many cases, in our experience, those estate planning documents won’t work when your family needs them because they will become stale the minute you walk out the door of your lawyers office – you’ll put the documents away and never look at them again. Your life will change, your assets will change, and the law will change, but those documents are going to be sitting there – staying the same. You are unlikely to ever hear from your lawyer again and won’t update your plan and if you do, you’ll very likely have to pay hourly to take care of any updates with uncertainty about how much that will cost on an ongoing basis. And, if your lawyer goes out of business or dies, you’ll have to start everything over with a new lawyer and pay all those initial fees again. And, this is sad to say, your assets are very unlikely to be owned in the right name at the time of your death, making all the planning you did irrelevant.

At GeorgiaFamilyLaw, we don’t believe that traditional model of estate planning really serves you and your family.  Instead, we focus on developing a lifetime relationship with you, giving you affordable access to a lawyer who will help you make the right legal decisions throughout life and then being there for your family when you can’t be.

We do this in a number of ways, including throwing out the time clocks – which means everything we do is billed on a flat fee basis, agreed to in advance, so there are no surprises.  It means we have a whole team in place to ensure that every part of your planning is done right, including that your assets are titled in the right name and that your planning continues to work throughout your lifetime. We do that by reviewing your planning at least every three years at no additional charge and if you want to make unlimited changes to your plan on an ongoing basis and be able to consult with us about all of your legal and financial questions that come up during life without paying hourly fees, we have a membership program you can join to ensure your planning works when your family needs it. And last, we don’t focus only on passing on your financial wealth, but we also have a unique process for capturing the assets that are most often lost when someone dies because they are intangible – the intellectual, spiritual and human assets – or who you are and what’s important to you.

All of that’s getting a little ahead of the game though because we can’t get to any of that until you complete a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment and have a Georgia Family Treasures  Planning Session to determine whether your family is a good fit for our services. Normally, that Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session is $750, but if you found us through this blog post on our website, we will waive that fee for you.

We only have a limited number of these free sessions we can offer each month, so if you want to have your session for no charge you should go ahead, call our Marietta estate planning lawyer’s office at 770.425.6060 and get on our calendar now.

The Hero He Didn’t Show. The Hero I Came to Know.

The Hero He Didn’t Show. The Hero I Came to Know.

A Eulogy for My Father,
Charles Robert “Bob” Worrall:
April 29, 1925 – January 8, 2013

Dad dashing

My Dad was a hero.

Now, not just your ordinary, average, everyday hero, mind you. Oh, he was that, to be sure. But he was so much more.

As I was growing up, there was the hero he would show. You know, the normal daily acts of heroism as a husband and father: Working hard, encouraging his kids to do well in school, supporting us emotionally and financially in achieving our goals and so forth.

But then there was the hero he didn’t show. That was the hero I came to know, only in his last decade or so.

After my wife, Karen, and I adopted our daughter, Amanda, from China, I began to learn about, and he would talk more openly about, his military service. It was only then that I began to learn of:

  • The courage of a 17 year old boy who volunteered and enlisted to fight an imperial enemy on the other side of the world;
  • The courage of a boy who was born in Baltimore, and grew up in Atlanta, but who got to see much of this country during his military training and later who got to see much of the world when he was assigned to service in India, Burma and China;
  • The courage of a boy who was called up for duty in the United States Army Air Corps in the summer he had just turned 18;
  • The courage of a boy who learned to fly airplanes shortly after most kids were learning to drive cars;
  • The courage of a boy who, after training from June 1943 until September 1944, got his wings at the rank of Flight Officer; and
  • The courage of a boy who became a man in the service of our country.

He boarded the Army train on Flag Day, June 14, 1943. That was also the birthday of his good friend and later brother-in-law, Cornwell Sirmon, and a few years later, my birthday.

After his military and flight training, in February 1945, he was shipped off to India to serve in the CBI, or China Burma India Theater. There, he participated in what was at the time the largest airlift in world history. His mission was to fly supplies in cargo planes from India to the British Army in Burma. He flew at this time in C-47’s, the workhorses of the Army Air Corps. The routes he would fly would take him up and over or through the Himalayas. Those routes would become known as flying the “Hump.” He would make several of these flights a day and logged hundreds of hours of combat flight time.

band of brothers spot

Later, when the Japanese army had been driven back to Rangoon by the Brits, he began flying in China in the summer of 1945, and was then flying in C-46’s — bigger, less reliable and more dangerous planes.

He flew most often in the heart of China between Kunming and Liuchow, more often than not in such poor weather that most of his landings were by instrument only.

The war with Japan ended in August 1945, soon after he began flying in China, but he remained on duty there for several months, in what for me would become the most fascinating and foreshadowing part of his service. Many years later, he would tell me the stories of how he was among the first Americans in, and the liberators of, many cities in eastern China which the Japanese had occupied prior to and during World War II: Canton (now Guangzhou), Shanghai, Tientsin, and Peking (now Beijing). He also participated in the liberation of a prisoner of war camp outside of Beijing.

He said the Japanese soldiers were allowed to keep their weapons because the Chinese people would have massacred them otherwise. Dad and his fellow airmen were treated like royalty by both the Chinese people and the Japanese soldiers in many of the cities and put up in the finest hotels.

By December 1945, he was on a transport ship crammed to twice its capacity and on his way home on a literal slow boat from China. After a long cross-country train ride from Seattle, he made it back home to Atlanta just in time for Christmas. He was 20 years old, just a few months shy of his 21st birthday. He served in the Air Force Reserves for a few more years after the war and flew from time to time in those duties, but to my knowledge, after that, never flew again. By the end of his service, he had achieved the rank of Second Lieutenant.

As a kid, I would see his medals in our house, hidden away in bureau drawers, but I never knew the stories behind them. He just didn’t talk about them. I understand that most soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines of that era did not. They, like him, were quiet heroes.

From the US Army Air Corps, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters. From the Republic of China and the Chinese Air Force, he was awarded an air medal and the China War Memorial Medal.

He provided this decorated and distinguished military service inside a country that would later bear him a granddaughter, because fifty four years later in 1999, my wife and I adopted our daughter, Amanda, in Hefei, Anhui Province, China. On that trip, we also visited Shanghai and Guangzhou, two of the cities that were liberated by my Dad. Ten years after that, in 2009, we returned to China with Amanda for a heritage tour and visited Beijing for our first time and toured Shanghai again, along with several other beautiful Chinese cities. Between these two trips, Dad began sharing with me the many stories of his adventures in China. For example, he told us about how he was one of the first Americans to enter the Forbidden City after the end of the war and how the Japanese had stripped the gold off of all of the buildings there. We were able to go there and see the Forbidden City now and share pictures with him of how it looks today.

My brother gave him the hat he loved so much, his World War II Veteran’s hat. He received so much positive attention from so many people when he wore it. This also seemed to encourage him to share his stories.

These 3 years of his young life shaped him and formed him to be the man we saw and knew and loved.

After returning home from the war, he met and married my Mom, Barbara, and they parted only this week, over 65 years later. He got his college degree in animal husbandry from the University of Georgia. They bought a 250 acre farm in Austell and there raised me, my sister Peggy and my brother David. He worked as a rural letter carrier in Mableton and Mom worked at Lockheed.

He taught me a love of nature and the outdoors, and the value of hard work, of helping others, of keeping your word and doing what’s right.

He was a wonderful husband to my Mom and a great dad to me, Peggy and David, and later a great father-in-law to my first wife Sandra, my wife Karen, Peggy’s former husband Alan, David’s first wife Christine and his wife Zornitsa, and a wonderful grandfather to my children, Bob, Stephanie, and Amanda, Peggy’s children Kristina, and her husband Brian, Meredith and Jason, and David’s children, Vanessa and Brendan. He was a dear brother to my Aunt Virginia, my Uncle Jim and my Uncle George and brother-in-law to my Uncle Cornwell, Aunt Frances and Aunt Jean, and uncle to my cousins, Rick, Gail, Amy, Fran, Nancy, and Kim, and all of their families.

That farm was their home for 46 years. 12 years ago they sold the farm, which was developed into a new subdivision. They moved to their home in Kennesaw, which was a dream house for them both. The subdivision which was built on our old home place preserved our name and Dad’s legacy on the property by naming the forest on the south end of the farm, the land between the confluence of three creeks: Ollie Creek, Noses Creek and Sweetwater Creek, as “Worrall Woods.”

As many of you know, I am a lawyer and in the last few years, I have been doing more and more estate planning as part of my practice. One thing I try to do differently from other lawyers is to focus on what we call the “whole family wealth:” our intangible assets, the things that make us uniquely who we are and what are important to us; the values, insights, stories and experiences that are lost to our families when we die. My Dad has given us so much of his whole family wealth. In 2000, he recorded many of his stories and they were made a part of a video project by Readers Digest which created a personalized videotape introduced by Walter Cronkite and then, using film and images from the National Archives and pictures provided by the veteran, told the story of these members of “the Greatest Generation,” called “When I Went to War.” This videotape, recorded in his own voice, is so valuable and precious to all of us, especially to his children and grandchildren.

And just this week, after he passed away, I found in a drawer in his file cabinet, along with his military medals a literal treasure chest in a cardboard shoebox. Inside that box were probably 200 letters he had written between 1943 and 1945 to his parents or his brothers and sister, recounting his stories from his service at the time the events were happening. I can’t tell you how marvelous it is to know that this piece of him will live on for us all.

Family was so important for my Dad. He and his brothers and sister, and my grandparents while they were alive, made sure we kept in frequent contact both while I was growing up and after I had started my own family. Over the years, we lost his father and my grandfather, Charlie, his mother and my grandmother, Emma, his brother-in-law and my uncle, Cornwell, and recently his brother and my uncle, Jim.

Our last family reunion was last Thanksgiving. I am so grateful to my Aunt Virginia, Aunt Frances, Uncle George and Aunt Jean, and almost all of my cousins and their spouses and so many of their children and their spouses and their children, for traveling to Mom and Dad’s home and letting him regale them with the stories I have shared with you today and so many more. I take great comfort in knowing that today Dad is with his parents and with his brother Jim and his brother-in-law Cornwell, all of whom he loved so much.

Zig Ziglar said, “Fear means two things … Forget Everything And Run OR Face Everything And Rise. The Choice is yours.” Throughout his life, Dad chose to face everything and rise. The courage he displayed during those three years, between the ages of 17 and 20 years old, as an airman training and fighting overseas was the same courage we saw him display in his final three years fighting an internal and infernal enemy. Although he ultimately lost that battle, he fought it hard and gave us three more years of time with him.

Those of us who remain and who loved him knew him as a great Husband, Father, Father-in-law, Grandfather, Uncle or Great Uncle, Brother, Brother-in- law, or Friend. He was known through his life as a Pilot, a Farmer, a Postman, and a Hero.

I am proud of my Dad.

I am proud to be his son.

He has now taken off on his final flight and final mission.

Godspeed, Lieutenant.

Goodbye, Dad.

You did it your way and I love you.

Dad later










“My Way,” performed by Frank Sinatra


And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and every highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way”

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!

Yes, it was my way.

Georgia Divorce Basics | Cobb County Divorce Lawyer

Georgia Divorce Basics | Cobb County Divorce Lawyer

marietta ga divorce lawyer


A person seeking a divorce in Georgia must establish jurisdiction. He or she is required to have been a resident of the State for at least six months before a Complaint for Divorce can be filed. The complaint must be filed in the county where the other spouse resides. Typically, this will be the county where the parties lived together.

The Complaint for Divorce must state the reason the divorce is sought. There are 13 statutory grounds for divorce in Georgia. The most commonly used ground is “irretrievably broken” (sometimes referred to as the “no-fault” ground). The other 12 grounds for divorce in Georgia are “fault” grounds.

To obtain a divorce on this basis (irretrievably broken), one party must establish that he or she refuses to live with the other spouse and that there is no hope of reconciliation. It is not necessary to show that there was any fault or wrongdoing by either party.

To obtain a divorce on one of the 12 “fault” grounds, one must prove that there was some wrongdoing by one of the parties to the marriage.

As an example, one fault ground is adultery. Adultery in Georgia includes heterosexual and homosexual relations between one spouse and another individual.

Another “fault” ground for divorce in Georgia is desertion. A divorce may be granted on the grounds that a person has deserted his or her spouse willfully for at least a year. Other “fault” grounds include mental or physical cruel treatment, marriage between persons who are too closely related, mental incapacity at the time of marriage, impotency at the time of marriage, force or fraud in obtaining the marriage, pregnancy of the wife unknown to the husband at the time of the marriage, conviction and imprisonment for certain crimes, habitual intoxication or drug addiction, and mental illness.

SOURCE (and for more basic information): State Bar of Georgia

Cobb County Child Custody Lawyer Shares A Children’s Bill of Rights

Cobb County Child Custody Lawyer Shares A Children’s Bill of Rights

As a Cobb County divorce and child custody attorney, I see all too often that the parents going through a divorce or custody fight forget how the divorce affects their children. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers publishes the following article on its website:

cobb county child custody lawyer


Every kid has rights, particularly when mom and dad are splitting up. Below are some things parents shouldn’t forget — and kids shouldn’t let them — when the family is in the midst of a break-up.

You have the right to love both your parents. You also have the right to be loved by both of them. That means you shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting to see your dad or your mom at any time. It’s important for you to have both parents in your life, particularly during difficult times such as a break-up of your parents.

You do not have to choose one parent over the other. If you have an opinion about which parent you want to live with, let it be known. But nobody can force you to make that choice. If your parents can’t work it out, a judge may make the decision for them.

You’re entitled to all the feelings you’re having. Don’t be embarrassed by what you’re feeling. It is scary when your parents break up, and you’re allowed to be scared. Or angry. Or sad. Or whatever.

You have the right to be in a safe environment. This means that nobody is allowed to put you in danger, either physically or emotionally. If one of your parents is hurting you, tell someone — either your other parent or a trusted adult like a teacher.

You don’t belong in the middle of your parents’ break-up. Sometimes your parents may get so caught up in their own problems that they forget that you’re just a kid, and that you can’t handle their adult worries. If they start putting you in the middle of their dispute, remind them that it’s their fight, not yours.

Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins are still part of your life. Even if you’re living with one parent, you can still see relatives on your other parent’s side. You’ll always be a part of their lives, even if your parents aren’t together anymore.

You have the right to be a child. Kids shouldn’t worry about adult problems. Concentrate on your school work, your friends, activities, etc. Your mom and dad just need your love. They can handle the rest.


SOURCE: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers