- 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.