Atlanta, GA Probate Attorneys

probate law

Proficient Probate Lawyers In Atlanta – Serving Georgia

Probate is a legal process that is required following the passing of a person. This court-ordered process gives a third party the authority to collect the decedent’s property, assets, and also gives this person the authority to pay the decedent’s debts and taxes. Eventually, this person will be able to transfer all of the decedent’s assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.

In the State of Georgia, Probate is a process that on average can take eight months to about a year depending on the assets and circumstances of the Estate. In the event that there is a dispute over the decedent’s estate such as: the Last Will and Testament, estate assets, determination of heirs or creditor claims, the matter can become complicated and may take much longer to resolve. Contact us today at (404) 584-5555 if you’d like to speak with an experienced Atlanta probate lawyer regarding your unique circumstances.

Determining If Probate Is Necessary

A probate proceeding is not always necessary. For the most part, a probate proceeding can be required if the deceased individual had property or other assets in his or her name where a beneficiary was not or could not be designated. In some cases, other assets can be transferred to the new owner without the need to enter the probate process, which is called non-probate items.

The following are common examples of non-probate assets that will likely not require entering into a probate

  • Assets the decedent had ownership of as a joint tenancy. These will likely automatically pass to any surviving owners.
  • Any assets for which the beneficiary has been identified outside of the will. For instance, any retirement accounts the decedent has named as a beneficiary.
  • Proceeds or benefits from a pension or life insurance policies, which are payable to the named beneficiary.
  • Assets and other properties held in a revocable living trust or irrevocable trust transferred during life.

Circumventing the Probate Process When There Is No Will

Under specific circumstances, a person who is entitled to inherit another’s assets or property under Georgia state law, and in the absence of a will, could ask the probate court to circumvent the process. The probate court can grant the petition when the following conditions apply:

  • No will was left behind by the deceased,
  • The heirs have agreed how the assets will be divided, and
  • Creditors will not object to the lack of probate proceedings.

The Role of a Personal Representative

When the deceased has named a person to serve as an executor in the will, also known as a personal representative in the State of Georgia, this individual will need to settle the estate. When probate is required, the personal representative will need to go to court and petition to be formally appointed as a personal representative of the decedent’s estate.

In the event that no will was left behind or if the appointed person is not able to serve the role, the court will then appoint a County Administrator. This individual will carry out the same role as a personal representative or executor. According to GA Code Ann. Section 53-6-20, the surviving spouse can have first priority to serve as personal representative, unless the couple was in the midst of getting divorce before the death or the individual can be deemed “unfit” to serve.

In the State of Georgia, an administrator will be required to post a bond with the probate court. This will protect the estate as a form of insurance policy in the event that the estate funds have been mismanaged.

Moreover, the administrator will need to take an oath, which essentially is a promise that the administrator makes that he or she will act in the best interests of the estate. Once the oath has been made, the court will issue Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration. These documents then allow the personal representative the authority and responsibility to carry out the following:

  • Collect and make an inventory of the decedent’s assets,
  • Have property and assets appraised by a professional,
  • If necessary, sell some of the property or assets,
  • Pay outstanding taxes and debts, and
  • Disburse remaining assets as determined by the will, or by law when no will is left.

Contact an Experienced Probate Attorney in the State of Georgia

There is a common misconception that probate is always a difficult process, and the estate can be wiped out in its entirety as a result of the fees. Although the probate process can be stressful and sometimes an emotional process, it does not necessarily have to be a nightmare, particularly in the State of Georgia. The State of Georgia offers a simpler process, when compared to other states. When working alongside a skilled Atlanta probate attorney, the entire process can be streamlined.

Every probate process is different and can require additional steps along with different procedures. As a result, it is necessary to seek the legal support of a skilled Attorney who can help. When a family member or other close relative has passed away, it is important to act quickly and seek the legal support of an attorney as soon as possible.

The Atlanta Estate Attorneys are highly experienced in the most complex probate proceedings. Contact our law firm today online or at (404) 584-5555 to schedule an appointment with an experienced Atlanta probate attorney regarding your unique circumstances.