Georgia Probate & Estate Administration
If you are dealing with the death of a family member or loved one, the attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ can guide you through the Georgia probate system. With over a decade of experience in Georgia probate law, our team has served as a trusted legal adviser for hundreds of families and clients in the North Metro Atlanta area. Our attorneys can help you navigate Georgia probate law to settle the financial situation of a now-deceased loved one and carry out their wishes after death. For a FREE consultation about probate or estate administration, call us today at (770) 956-4030.
What is probate and estate administration?
When someone passes away in Georgia, they leave behind property and other assets. By drafting a Last Will & Testament, a deceased person can leave behind instructions for how their property should be distributed to others upon death. From donations to charitable organizations to inheritance rights for children and grandchildren, the probate process splits up these assets and directs them to the proper recipients. The person in charge of this process is usually an executor or personal representative. In many Last Wills & Testaments, the drafter will appoint someone they trust to serve as the executor or personal representative of the estate.
If you own a home, for instance, you will likely want that home to pass on to a specific person. With an estate plan in place, you can ensure that this property will end up in the right hands. To help you with all of your estate planning needs in Georgia, contact the probate attorneys at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ today.
How Probate Works in Georgia
The probate process involves a number of important steps. In Georgia, the death of a family member or loved one will usually trigger the following steps of the probate process:
- Filing a Petition to Probate in Solemn Form: When someone passes away, the first step in the probate process is usually to verify whether they drafted an enforceable will. This is done by filing a petition to probate in solemn form at the correct county probate court. After filing the petition, the probate court can determine if the will is legally valid. In cases where the deceased doesn’t have a will, you should consult an attorney about what to do next.
- Letters Testamentary: The next step in probate involves the court approving or appointing an executor. The executor (sometimes called a personal representative) is the person in charge of caring for the deceased’s property after death. The court will provide the executor with “letters testamentary” to grant the executor the power to oversee estate property and act as a fiduciary on behalf of beneficiaries and creditors of the estate.
- Notify Interested Parties: Once appointed/approved, the executor of an estate has a busy schedule ahead. The executor must notify any parties that have an interest in the deceased’s property. This means that the executor must reach out to heirs, family members, business partners, and creditors about financial interests they might have in the estate.
- Taking Inventory of the Estate: The executor must take a comprehensive inventory of all probate assets. The probate estate might include property like real estate, stock portfolios, bonds, bank accounts, personal possessions, vehicles, and business interests. Other property (like pensions or life insurance benefits) may not be included as probate assets. The executor must know how to differentiate between probate and non-probate assets.
- Property Management and Preservation: The probate process can last months, or even years, before everything is settled. The executor has a legal responsibility to make sure that assets don’t deteriorate during this process. For example, the executor must ensure that a residential home doesn’t fall into disarray during the probate process. The executor must take action to preserve wealth for the intended beneficiaries.
- Funeral Expenses: One of the most important parts of probate is dealing with funeral plans. A Last Will & Testament often specifies how a funeral should be conducted. The executor is usually the person in charge of making sure that there are enough resources in the estate to cover the financial expenses of a funeral.
- Payment of Claims/Debts: When someone passes away, they often leave behind unpaid bills, like credit card balances, loans, and mortgages. During the probate process, the executor must ensure that claims for debts and financial liabilities are paid back to creditors.
- Asset Distribution: For any property remaining in the estate, the executor is in charge of distributing assets to the intended beneficiaries, as specified in the deceased’s Last Will & Testament. During this process of administering the estate, the executor can also seek to resolve disputes between beneficiaries or family members about how the estate should be distributed.
- Taxation: There are complicated Georgia tax rules that affect the probate process. The executor must ensure that the probate process complies with all relevant taxation rules, including estate taxes, inheritance taxes, income taxes, gift taxes, and other applicable state and federal tax laws.
- Accounting & Record-Keeping: At every stage of the probate process, the executor must ensure that there is documentation for how and where estate property is distributed. The executor must have a proper accounting of all expenses paid by and distributions made from the estate.
Find a Georgia Probate Lawyer
To offer legal guidance on Georgia probate issues, the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ is here to help. For thousands of Georgia families, turning to a probate lawyer is a cost-effective way to deal with property and inheritance issues after a loved one has passed away. The probate process can be confusing, time-consuming, and costly. At Fennell, Briasco & Associates™, our job is to make it easier. With the help of a trusted legal adviser, you can save time and money by figuring out what to do in the weeks and months after a loved one has passed.
While everyone hopes that the probate process can proceed in an orderly fashion, many families experience hiccups along the way. In some cases, family members might argue about who is entitled to certain property. In other cases, it might be difficult to value a piece of property (like antiques, jewelry, or a piece of fine art). To help you navigate this complex area of law, contact the team at Fennell, Briasco & Associates™ for a FREE legal consultation about probate or estate litigation.
Our Service Area
We proudly represent clients dealing with probate issues in the following areas: