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Does a will have to be recorded in GA?

Snellville, GA |

I only have one heir so I was thinking about using an online source to write a will instead of paying an attorney. I learned that I need two witnesses to sign to make it legal but I can't find any other information

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Your research is incomplete. In order to be self proving, a georgia will needs two witnesses and also needs to be notarized. Be very wary of online wills. They are notoriously inadequate when being probated. A will should not be recorded, unless you want the world to know in advance what you have and how you want it dispersed.
    Estate planning is not the place to pinch pennies. A well written will save you respect hundreds if not thousands of dollars

    The information and opinion rendered herein is done as a courtesy and is for general informational purposes. Nothing herein may be construed by any party as to give rise to an attorney-client relationship.


  2. There is probably nothing worse you could do to your family than to use online garbage like LegalZoom and the other messes you'll find online. The few dollars you may save now (and the cost of a will with a lawyer is so low that the savings will be tiny) will typically cause expensive problems later.

    Small mistakes in drafting can cause immense problems. Heirs can lose their inheritance. Your executor may face added costs in probate due to granting the wrong powers or through less than perfect language. The will might even be invalid. And while your statement that you need two witnesses is true, a will with just two witnesses is NOT the easiest to probate (as you'll have left out the very helpful and cost-saving attestation).

    Note also that the probate laws of each state are very different, and that most online wills are generic (designed to work everywhere). That means they are usually not optimal in any state.

    Additionally, when you pay a lawyer to draft a will, he will do additional things. He will make sure that your house deeds, bank accounts, investments, retirement plans and insurance are set up in ways that coordinate with the will and simplify transfer of assets. He'll make sure minor children and grandchildren have a proper trust to protect them (and guardians to raise them). He'll look into related estate planning you likely have not done - powers of attorney and health care directives.

    Note that when you say you have one heir, you also need to think about what happens if you and the heir die at the same time, or he dies first, or he is unable at the time of your death to probate an estate. With one heir it also may be possible to draft shortcuts that will make probate a lot cheaper and faster and easier.

    The few hundred dollars you may save now will make things very costly for that heir. If you want to do this right, call a lawyer. My office has very reasonable fees for simple estates, and I'd be glad to help. I can be reached at 404-768-3509.

    If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you. Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at geaatl@msn.com . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.


  3. These online soures are a complete disservice to the public. The get paid for giving your family nothing but a lawsuit down the road. Get a qualified estate planning attorney and stop looking for trouble. You are not saving your family once someone tries to probate this ill conceived and probably unenforceable document.

    Hope this helps.

    Please remember to designate a best answer to your question.

    Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net , his website for more tax, estate and business articles is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net , his website is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is <http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.


  4. You have some great answers and advice-I would say that 90% of the self-made documents are wrong or have not covered an important point.

    The answer given does not imply that an attorney-client relationship has been established and your best course of action is to have legal representation in this matter.


  5. You need two witnesses to the will to have it validly executed. But the two witnesses can't be anyone, they have to meet certain requirements, including that they are disinterested - meaning that they don't stand to benefit from your will. And while you don't have to have a self-proving affidavit, any experienced lawyer will make sure that an affidavit is completed as well, to make the probate process much easier, and to make the will "self-proving" to avoid the need to have the witnesses appear in court to prove up the will. Your "online source" may or may not include that affidavit. In terms of "recording" the will, in Georgia people generally do not file the will with any court until such time as it is needed to be admitted for probate after the death of the testator (the testator is the person who completed the will).

    Going it alone on an important document such as this is likely not the best decision you could make. Experienced lawyers can assist you with your will for reasonable rates, can make sure that you properly plan and consider different scenarios that might arise, and will make sure that you actually get the will executed properly. You should pay attention to the disclaimers on the online sites that tell you clearly that they are not providing you with legal advice. When you need legal advice to make sure things are handled right, you should consult an experienced lawyer.

    Since you are not a client, the only advice that I can give you is that you is that you should speak with a lawyer in your area to discuss your estate planning needs. You can find several here on Avvo. My office is in Snellville, and I'd be happy to chat with you for a few minutes if you wish to discuss your needs.

    This is for general informational purposes only, is not intended to be legal advice for your specific situation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Should you desire legal advice, hire a lawyer. If I can be of assistance, please contact my office at (678) 344-5342 or visit us at www.thebeckfirm.com.

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