Who needs a Will, part 3. If you want to decide who administers your estate.

You need a Will if you want someone you know and trust to administer your estate.

Administering an estate is a big job. If you do not have a Will, then the person who administers your estate is called an Administrator. Their job is to:

  1. Collect and preserve estate assets;

  2. Pay estate debts; and

  3. Distribute any remaining estate assets.

That’s a lot of responsibility and authority. Although the Administrator does not get to decide who receives assets or how much each person gets, they do get to make most other decisions, including how long the process takes and (sometimes) who might receive a particular item.*

While there is not a law that says who the Administrator must be, there is a law about who it can be, along with a prioritized list,** in case the Court has to choose between people who are fighting about who gets to do the job. (This happens more often than you might think.)

That list includes creditors. So anyone you owe money to when you die can ask the Court to be named as the Administrator of your estate. This list also allows almost any mentally competent adult, regardless of their relationship to you or your family.***

However, in a Will, you get to pick who administers your estate. This person is called an Executor, and they have the same job as an Administrator (collect & preserve, pay, and distribute).

In your Will, you can choose someone you trust to carry out your wishes according to your Will. And you can choose alternates, in case your first choice can’t or won’t do the job.

(And, if you are worried that naming a particular family member might cause hurt feelings or conflict in your family, you can choose a neutral professional—such as a CPA, financial planner, etc.,—to serve as Executor, instead.)

*So long as the item is not given to a particular person in a Will, and other conditions are met.

**See O.C.G.A. § 53-6-20

***See O.C.G.A. §§ 53-6-1 and § 7-1-242

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

The statements in this blog are generalities, and exceptions exist. And, as always, this post is not legal advice. If you have any questions about this information or about what to do when a loved one passes, please contact us.

We've changed our schedule at Refuge Coffee ... again

Well, that was fun. But Wednesdays and Fridays just don’t work well with our schedule. So we’re returning to Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Starting tomorrow, March 13, I’ll be at Refuge Coffee in Clarkston Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 to 10:00 AM.

Again, if you’re in the area, you’re welcome to stop by to say hello. If you’d like to schedule a meeting (or just make sure I’ll be there), please call or email me first to confirm: 404-532-9953 or scott@sbfieldslaw.com.

Who needs a Will, part 2. If you want to decide who gets your stuff.

You need a Will if you want to decide who gets your stuff.

A lot of people think that, if you don’t have a Will, then everything goes to your spouse. Or that the estate Administrator decides how the property is divided. Or that you can just tell a friend or family member where you want everything to go. None of these is true.

If a person dies without a Will, Georgia law* dictates who receives assets, and how much. Basically, your assets are divided among your family in fractions based on who and how many family members are alive when you die.

More specifically:

  • Spouse and no children** - all to spouse

  • Children** and no spouse - equal shares to each child

  • Spouse and 1 or 2 children** - equal shares to spouse and each child**

  • Spouse and 3 or more children** - 1/3 to spouse, the children** split the remaining 2/3 in equal shares

  • No spouse or children** - all to surviving parent or parents in equal shares

  • No spouse, children** or parents - all to siblings** in equal shares

  • No spouse, children**, parents, or siblings** - all to surviving grandparent or grandparents in equal shares

  • And so on, and so on ...

This is the law. Friends, stepchildren, children’s spouses, college roommates, favorite charities, etc., get nothing. That crazy uncle who always thought Thanksgiving dinner was the best time to argue politics could receive the same as the nice aunt who taught you to drive. The child who hasn’t called you in 20 years could receive more than the grandchild who brought you donuts every Saturday.

Neither your family, friends, Administrator, lawyer, or anyone else can change this system of distribution.

However, with a Will, you get to decide who gets what. If you want a specific house, car, gun, ring, etc. to go to a specific person, you can say that in your Will. If you want to prevent certain people from inheriting anything (like your cousin that’s in jail) then you can do that in your Will. Or if you want to include certain people (like the friend who helped you through your divorce), you can do that, too.

You also can avoid leaving property to minors.

So, if you want to avoid the game of Inheriting Relative Roulette and decide for yourself who gets what, you need a Will. Otherwise, the Georgia General Assembly will decide for you.

*Specifically, O.C.G.A. § 53-2-1(c)

**Or their descendants, if they predecease you. If this is the case, things can get really complicated, including multiplying fractions. You don’t want to force your loved ones to have to multiply fractions, do you?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.

The statements in this blog are generalities, and exceptions exist. And, as always, this post is not legal advice. If you have any questions about this information or about what to do when a loved one passes, please contact us.

We've changed our schedule at Refuge Coffee

Starting the week of February 11, we are changing the times when I’ll be at Refuge Coffee in Clarkston. Instead of Tuesdays and Thursdays, I’ll be there on Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9:00 to 10:00 AM.

If you’re in the area, you’re welcome to stop by to say hello. If you’d like to schedule a meeting (or just make sure I’ll be there), please call or email me first to confirm: 404-532-9953 or scott@sbfieldslaw.com.

Please note, we are not affiliated in any way with Refuge Coffee. Nothing I do is their responsibility, and nothing they do is mine. It’s just a great place to hang out, meet folks, and maybe do a little work.

Let's try this again.

Sorry for the hiatus. We had a pretty ok run of blog posts, and then stopped. But we’re back and hope to bring you regular content. I hope you find it interesting.

I had the honor (once again) of appearing on the Nursing Home Abuse podcast with Rob Schenk and Will Smith (not that one, the other Will Smith) talking about what it means to probate a Will in Georgia (among other things). It’s Episode 102, What does “Probate a Will” mean in Georgia? 

We hope you found this information helpful. If so, please like and share this post.

The statements in this blog are generalities, and exceptions exist. And, as always, this post is not legal advice. If you have any questions about this information or about what to do when a loved one passes, please contact us.

The Schenk Smith LLC Nursing Home Abuse podcast, Part 2

Not only was I the first guest on the Schenk Smith LLC Nurshing Home Abuse podcast, but I'm also the second guest. That's quite an honor.

You can listen to Part 2 here: Understanding the Georgia Probate process if your loved one passed in a nursing home - Part 2 | Schenk Smith Attorneys.

Most of the topics in the podcast are not specific to nursing home abuse or neglect, and we discuss a lot of general estate planning and administration issues.