Intro to Wills & Estate Planning

Posted on January 27, 2008 by Nancy Liu | Category: Wills & Estate Planning

Introduction to Wills and Estate Planning

The housing market crash has affected us on personal and institutional levels across the whole world.  We see prices going up, people losing jobs, while the dark cloud of recession hangs over our heads.  If there is any positive side to the current recession is that it has helped sober our tendency to seek instant gratification without thinking of the long term, which has been the prevalent trend during the past few decades.  It has helped deflate an economy that was seriously bloated and grounded artificially- induced spending.  It has also provided a time to give serious thought to how we live everyday, and to make sure that we are looking ahead when we make decisions today.

One thing that nobody likes to think of is the death of someone close.  The unexpected death of a person can wreak emotional havoc among their loved ones.  The process of coping with this kind of loss is painful and can take a long time.  At the same time, this is something that is often overlooked but should be given serious thought and planning.  In order to avoid adding problems and additional costs for your loved ones during these difficult times, we recommend that you have a will ready, where you can leave instructions on how your property will be disposed of after your death, as well as any wishes you may have pertaining to the care of your minor children, if you have any.

If you do not leave a will, your estate is disposed of according to the laws of the state you reside in.  In Georgia, a probate court examines your estate and distributes it to your spouse and children pending some limitations.  This can mean that your spouse will not be able to access a portion of the children’s inheritance before they turn 18, making it difficult for your spouse to financially sustain them, or that a court will select and appoint a guardian over your children.  It can also mean, as we have seen in several cases, that your spouse will not be able to sell your property or will have to go through a lengthy process to obtain permission to do so from a court.

Recently, many online do-it-yourself type services have appeared, and wills are not an exception.  The cost of these services can range anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars.  In these kinds of services, you will typically fill out a questionnaire and your answers are merged onto a pre-defined document, which you then print and sign.

Although it sounds like a simple process, it is important to note certain shortcomings of such services.  For example, you should be aware that every state has different laws regarding the execution of wills.  Not complying with these laws can mean that your document will be declared invalid.  The wording of the document should be clear and unambiguous, comply with the requirements of your state laws, and take into account your specific circumstances, relationships, and property.  Because many wills websites provide automated service, they are unable to account for these considerations, which is why many of them recommend that you have a local attorney review your will to ensure that your documents are correct.

You should change your current will or draft a new one when any major events (eg. marriage, moving to a new state) in your life take place, as it will affect the way in which your estate is disposed of.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact our offices at 770-481-0609,, or visit our website at

This article is only for your reference. Please do not apply mechanically to any exact cases. You are welcome to consult our attorneys at Liu & Associates, P.C. For contact information, please click here.