How to make a will in Georgia

A guide to Georgia probate laws.

Elissa

Elissa Suh

Published June 12, 2020

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Who can write a will in Georgia?

Anyone age 14 or older can write a will in Georgia, but mentally incompetent individuals may only make a will during “lucid intervals.”

What are the requirements for witnessing a will in Georgia?

Georgia requires at least two “competent” witnesses to sign the will. The witnesses must be at least 14 years old.

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Can witnesses be beneficiaries of the will in Georgia?

Yes, but unless there are two other disinterested witnesses the testamentary gift to the interested witness may be void.

What are the requirements for nominating an executor in Georgia?

  • Age of executor: At least 18 years old (Georgia’s age of majority)
  • Felons are not explicitly barred from serving as an executor, but the court may request a background check on anyone you nominate

Can you create a holographic will in Georgia?

Georgia does not explicitly forbid handwritten wills (called “holographic wills” when not signed by witnesses). Handwritten wills are only valid when they are properly witnessed.

Is Georgia a community property state?

No, Georgia is not a community property state.

In a community property state, each spouse has an equal share of property acquired during the marriage. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property.

Laws of intestacy in Georgia

In Georgia, when there is no will, the court will determine who receives the intestate estate, usually based on intestate succession.

This is how much a surviving spouse receives in a few different circumstances:

If the decedent is survived by a spouse and:Surviving spouse's share
No childrenEverything
ChildrenEstate is split evenly with children, but spouse is entitled to at least 1/3

Otherwise, when there is no surviving spouse, then the intestate estate will pass along in the following order.

  • Children
  • Parents
  • Siblings of the decedent, or their children
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and uncles of the decedent, or their children

For someone to receive the estate, there must not be anyone left in the category above them. If an inheritor is dead, then their share typically passes to their children by a per stirpes designation.

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Filing the will in Georgia

After the testator’s death, the executor has five years to file for probate after petitioning for letters of administration.

Where to file: Probate court in the county of the decedent’s permanent residence

Estate administration without probate in Georgia

Only intestate estates may skip formal administration when all heirs agree to the distribution of property by filing a petition.

Don’t live in Georgia? Learn how to make a will in your state.

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Personal Finance Editor

Elissa Suh

Personal Finance Editor

Elissa is a personal finance editor at Policygenius in New York City. She writes about estate planning, mortgages, and occasionally health insurance. In the past she has written about film and music.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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