In the state of Georgia anyone that is at least 14 years old can create their own will as long as they do not have any legal disability or impediment. In order to be valid the will only has to be in writing, signed, and witnessed by two other individuals of at least 14 years of age that are also considered to be competent. However, just because a person can write a will does not mean that they understand all of the documents required to complete a responsible, legally binding, estate plan.
Most attorneys specializing in estate planning in Georgia recommend obtaining a general durable power of attorney. These documents designate an agent that will act on your behalf in all situations. This agent should be someone you trust with all of your property and money since they will be given the power to act on your behalf in a wide variety of situations. Having a power of attorney is recommended since it will free your family from the stress associated in attempting to work around the law to get important matters taken care of when an individual is incapacitated but still living. That limbo that often takes place before a will can be used.
A general durable power of attorney can let your agent make medical and financial decisions on your behalf. This individual has the authority to give gifts in your name, sign checks in your place, transfer property including homes and vehicles, and manage your bank accounts, investments, and more. The power goes into effect as soon as the power of attorney is signed and should be kept safe until the time comes that you are incapacitated. Because of the legal power associated with this document some individuals do not sign the power of attorney until directly before a surgery or at the onset of a serious illness.
In some situations a person may not feel comfortable creating a power of attorney that could really be used at anytime. An alternative to a power of attorney to be used in the event of a sudden illness or coma that does not allow for a power of attorney to be signed is a living will. A living will is a legal document that goes into effect once a Georgia physician has certified that you are unable to make legal decisions on your own behalf. Once a living will goes into effect your surrogate will handle all of your treatment decisions and manage your estate.