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Written Statements or Lists Disposing of Personal Property

Effective January 1, 2021, Georgia HB 865 (Act 508), amended the Georgia Probate code. Now, if you prepare a written statement or list disposing of tangible personal property (a “who gets what” list), it can be incorporated into your will by reference. That means that if there is a dispute concerning tangible personal property, the Probate Court can enforce the terms of your written statement or list the same way it can enforce the terms of your will. The new provision is at O.C.G.A. § 53-4-5 and the 2021 version of that text is as follows:

(a)A written statement or list meeting the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section shall dispose of
items of tangible personal property, other than money, not otherwise specifically disposed of by the testator’s
will. If more than one otherwise effective writing exists, then, to the extent of any conflict among the writings, the
provisions of more recent writing revoke the inconsistent provisions of each prior writing.
(b)A written statement or list meets the requirements of this subsection if such writing:

(1)Is signed and dated by the testator;
(2)Describes the items and the beneficiaries with reasonable certainty; and
(3)Is referred to in the testator’s will.

The writing may be referred to as one to be in existence at the time of the testator’s death; it may be
prepared before or after the execution of the will; it may be altered by the testator after its preparation,
provided that it is signed and dated on the date of such alteration; and it may be a writing that has no
significance apart from its effect on the dispositions made by the will.

The key provisions are in Subsection “b”. The list must be signed by the Will-maker. The list must describe the items and beneficiaries with reasonable certainty. The list must be referred to in the Will. Future versions of this code section (which might include a definition of tangible personal property) can be found by using one of the services that publishes the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.

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