"Many are not exercised upon the subject of making their wills while they are in apparent health. But this precaution should be taken...They should know their financial standing and...should arrange their property in such a manner that they may leave it at any time."
Counsels on Stewardship, page 328
Regardless of age or financial standing, every adult needs a will. Seven out of ten people do not have a will. If you were to die unexpectedly without a will, the state would decide not only who receives your assets, but also who would be given custody of your minor children. With the exception of the state of Florida, all southeastern state courts would give only a portion of assets to a surviving spouse with children in the case of someone who dies intestate -without a will.
A will is a legal document that insures that your wishes are carried out after your death. In your will, you name a personal representative and, if you have minor children, a guardian and trustee. Upon your death, your will is recorded at the courthouse in the county where you resided. This process, called "probate," is supervised by the county court. The major concern of the probate court is the proper transfer of real estate and the care of minor children.
"Wills should be made in a manner to stand the test of law." Ibid.
In order for a will to hold up to the strongest test of law, it should be prepared by an attorney. Because each state has different laws, it is important that you receive the legal expertise that an attorney provides in the preparation of estate planning documents. The size of a taxable estate continues to be redefined by the Internal Revenue Service. Large estates may be subject to federal estate tax and should be evaluated by a qualified tax attorney prior to the preparation of estate planning documents.
As circumstances change, it is prudent to review any existing estate plan documents to insure that they continue to meet your needs. When a new will is prepared, it should revoke any and all previous wills. It is not necessary to prepare a new will if you move to a different state; however, in the case of life changes such as marriage, divorce, birth or death, a new will should be created.
We offer estate planning services to each constituent of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference. All documents are prepared by an attorney specializing in estate planning.
Available to Georgia-Cumberland Conference constituents at no charge:
Last Will and Testament—the Last Will and Testament contains an individual’s formal instructions indicating the disposition of property (estate) at death:
Power of Attorney—a power of attorney is an instrument authorizing another to act as one’s agent or attorney in fact. This instrument is revoked upon the death of the principal by operation of law. Such power may be either general or specific. It is used primarily for business transactions. Extreme caution should be used when designating the power of attorney.
Health Care Surrogate/Living Will—A health care surrogate/living will is twofold: First, it designates and authorizes another person to serve as one’s agent to make health care decisions when that person is unable to make those decisions; second, it designates which medical procedures a person does or does not desire in order to sustain life. It may also declare that one does not desire to be kept alive by any medical procedure if it is determined that his/her condition is terminal with no probability of recovery.
Other instruments which include Demand Notes for the Southern Union Revolving Fund, Revocable Living Trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts, Charitable Lead Trusts, and various types of trusts suitable for specific estate planning circumstances are available to persons who desire to meet specific stewardship and estate planning objectives. These documents require the expertise of a qualifed estate planning attorney. Our personnel are prepared to provide our members with basic information concerning these important instruments and to assist them with finding a qualified estate planning attorney.
"Death will not come one day sooner...because you have made your will." - Counsels on Stewardship, page 328
To begin planning your estate, click here.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about our services, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-567-1844, ext. 361. One of our Trust Services officers will contact you for a personal appointment, or to schedule a Will Clinic at your church.