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Estate

Joseph E. Cheeley, III, P.C. counsels clients regarding estate planning, including the preparation of wills and trusts, financial and healthcare powers of attorney and living wills. In addition, the firm represents the personal representative (executor or administrator), heir, or the beneficiary of the estate in the probate and administration of estates, including year’s support. The firm provides legal advice and representation for guardianships of the person and of the property (conservatorship). Finally, if there is a dispute that needs to be resolved, we can help.

 

 

 

 

 

Representive Cases on Appeal

 

Unfortunately, many people put off consulting an attorney to prepare their Last Will and Testament until it’s too late. None of us know what tomorrow may bring. A Last Will and Testament allows the client to have the last word on what happens to their estate, in the event of their death. If you die without a will, state law determines who will receive your estate. Without a will, your estate has no personal representative, and your estate will incur more expenses to administer. A properly drawn Last Will and Testament by an attorney will save you money. An improperly drafted Will can cause your estate more litigation and expense.

After a death, it is wise for an estate’s personal representative to employ an attorney to commence the probate or administration of the estate procedures and to otherwise assist the personal representative in gathering the estate assets, paying creditors and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries.

Don’t delay. Contact us at 770-831-7910 for an appointment so that we may help you with your estate planning matters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)
What happens to my estate if I die without a will?
What are the costs to my estate if I die without a will?
What about my minor children?
Are there any special concerns for drafting and executing a will?
How do I change my will?
When should a will be changed?
Is joint ownership a sufficient alternative for a will?
What happens to my estate if I die without a will?
If you die without a will, your personal wishes will not be taken into account. Instead, the statutory distribution must be used. For example, under Georgia law, if you are married and survived by your wife and 2 children, your estate will be equally divided among your spouse and children. If you have 3 children, your spouse will get one third, and your children will share two-thirds. The statutory formula may not be in line with your wishes. There are other considerations as well, such as who you will choose to be your personal representative.

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What are the costs to my estate if I die without a will?
Your administrator may incur expenses of a bond and will also likely incur additional legal expenses. For example, without a properly drawn will, a court order is required to sell real estate. The costs of administering your estate will likely be far greater than the cost of a well-prepared will. A properly drawn will can reduce probate costs and eliminate unnecessary expenses.

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What about my minor children?
With a will you can designate whom you want to serve as the guardian of your children to reduce the chances of a dispute among family members should both you and your spouse die.

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Are there any special concerns for drafting and executing a will?
Yes. Drafting a will involves many decisions requiring professional judgment which can only be obtained through years of legal education and experience. Only the practicing attorney can avoid the many mistakes that can easily be made. These mistakes can result in litigation and resulting expense and emotional turmoil to your estate and loved ones. Insofar as execution of a will, there are very technical formalities for executing a will which, if not followed, can result in the invalidation of the will altogether. You should avoid using do-it-yourself wills for these reasons. The adage, “You get what you pay for,” certainly holds true here.

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How do I change my will?
A will cannot be changed by simply writing something on the original. The same technicalities in executing an original will apply here. You should contact an attorney to prepare a codicil to your original will, or to rewrite your will.

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When should a will be changed?
Your will should be changed if you have had a change in your life circumstances. This includes but is not limited to birth, marriage, separation, divorce and relocating from another state. Unless your will states otherwise, the birth of a child or your marriage after your will has been executed operates to revoke your will so that there is no will. If you divorce, your spouse is not allowed to receive anything under your will ordinarily. However, you should still consult an attorney after a divorce, especially if you have children.

Although a will properly executed in another state is usually valid in Georgia, you should consult an attorney in Georgia to make sure that it complies with Georgia laws and that there are not any other considerations that would warrant changes, such as the naming of your executor.

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Is joint ownership a sufficient alternative for a will?
No. While joint ownership is a useful tool, it is not a substitute for a will, as it does not provide for the distribution of property in the event of a common disaster between you and your joint owner.

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Representive Cases on Appeal

Mr. Cheeley has been counsel on appeal in the following estate case:
Probate Notice: In this contest over 2 wills, the Supreme Court held that the propounder of a will must give notice to the propounders and beneficiaries of any other wills of the testator offered for probate in the same county. This duty of notice does not end on the date of the filing of the first will for probate but continues until a will is admitted to probate. Garner v. Harrison, 260 Ga. 866, 400 S.E.2d 925 (1991).

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© 2005-2009 Joseph E. Cheeley, III, P.C. All rights reserved
Joseph E. Cheeley, III, is an experienced estate lawyer serving the metro-Atlanta area including the following counties: Gwinnett, Forsyth, Hall and Barrow; and the following cities: Auburn, Berkeley Lake, Bethlehem, Buford, Cumming, Dacula, Duluth, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Grayson, Lawrenceville, Lilburn, Loganville, Norcross, Oakwood, Snellville, Stone Mountain, Sugar Hill, Suwanee, and Winder as well as the Chateau Elan, Sugarloaf and Hamilton Mill areas.