If You Have Recently Moved to a New State

Generally, so long as a will satisfies the requirements of the probate court of the state or country where one is "domiciled" when he or she dies, the will is valid, regardless of where it was drafted. However, different states have different formalities and therefore different definitions of what constitutes a "valid" will. "Domicile" refers to the principal place of residence, as opposed to a state where one may maintain a summer home or other real estate. Accordingly, if you are domiciled in Georgia when you die, any will (or living will and durable power of attorney for health care) must be drafted and executed in compliance with Georgia law or it may be declared invalid by a Georgia judge.


If Your Will Is Over 3 Years Old

The estate and gift tax laws have substantially changed in the last few years. Further changes are on the horizon. Moreover, as relationships and events change, many people change their mind about who they want to be the beneficiaries in their will. Persons with older wills would be wise to re-evaluate the tax consequences and beneficiary designations of their current estate plan.


If There Has Been a Change in Your Marital Status

In Georgia, a will is revoked by operation of law if the testator gets married (O.C.G.A. Section 53-2-76), unless the will expressly provides for the "contemplation of such an event." Upon divorce, only the provisions of your will that pertain to your former spouse are revoked. Either way, it is best to have a lawyer review your estate plan to make sure that it works in the way you intended.


If You Have or Adopt Children

Similar to the rule for marital status, In Georgia, a will is revoked by the subsequent birth of a child to the testator (O.C.G.A. Section 53-2-76), unless the will expressly provides for the "contemplation of such an event." Although our wills provide for the event of a child born after the will is executed, this is not always the case. You should review your will to confirm that the child is entitled to the share you intended.


If One of Your Children Dies

A well-drafted will usually provides an adjustment for such an event, but it is still best to meet with an attorney to find out for sure.


If Any of Your Children Die Before You, Leaving Their Own Children

Any grandchildren who have lost their parents may need more support than other grandchildren.


If You Inherit Anything of Financial Value

The IRS taxes each estate when wealth is passed down to succeeding generations. Inheritances of most assets will be included in your estate for estate and gift tax purposes.


If Any of Your Beneficiaries Die

If you have not named an alternate beneficiary for a specific bequest, do you want it to go into the residuary? Do you now want the property earmarked for the deceased beneficiary to go to someone else?


If the Value of Your Estate Has Changed Significantly Since Your Will Was Executed

Estate taxes range from 37% to 50%. If your estate has grown into a taxable estate, then without proper planning much of it could go to the government instead of your children or other chosen beneficiaries.


If Anyone Named to Care for Your Children Cannot Serve

You should revise your will if anyone named to care for your children can no longer do the job, including: personal guardian(s), successor personal guardian(s), custodian(s), successor custodian(s).


If Anyone You Named to Care for Your Property or Your Children's Property Cannot Serve

You should revise your will if anyone named to care for your property or your children's property can no longer do the job, including: property guardian(s), successor property guardian(s), trustee(s), and successor trustee(s).


12. If You Change Your Mind about Who You Want to Be the Executor or If Your Named Executor Cannot Serve

The importance of having someone you trust to be your Executor cannot be stressed enough.


If Your Will does not have a Self-Proving Affidavit Attached

A self-proving affidavit can dispense with the requirement that the witnesses to your will testify when you die. Many wills over 10-15 years old, don't include a self-proving affidavit. Do you know who witnessed your will?