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As an Estate Litigation Lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, one of my duties when retained in a Georgia probate litigation case is to determine who is entitled to the estate assets of an individual after his or her death (the “decedent”). During this process, the assets are collected, debts are paid off, and any remaining property in the estate is distributed according to the deceased’s will. If the individual dies intestate––that is, without a will––then state law determines who receives the remaining assets.

The Georgia probate laws of intestacy are intended to ensure a fair distribution of the property to heirs of an estate. Likewise, the distribution of assets under a will is intended to distribute assets according to the wishes of the decedent. However, occasionally assets are improperly distributed by an executor or administrator as a result of undue influence, fraud, coercion, negligence, or other unlawful means. This improper distribution of estate assets is often done on purpose and constitutes unlawful actions of an executor or administrator and is a breach of their fiduciary duty. To prevent these unlawful actions, Georgia Constructive Trusts can be created which attach to the asset(s) and hold them in trust for the rightful beneficiary. Constructive Trusts are an especially effective equitable remedy to prevent the squandering of assets through self dealing, conversation, misappropriation of funds, and more.

A Constructive Trust can be implemented when a representative is appointed who has a fiduciary duty to fairly distribute assets to beneficiaries or heirs of an estate. This representative is responsible for collecting the estate’s assets, determining their value, and, if necessary, liquidating them in order to settle the estate’s debts and to more easily distribute property. The representative’s near-absolute power is what makes willful wrongdoing or mistake in distributing assets possible. Constructive Trusts can remedy these unlawful and wrongful distributions.

As soon you suspect that assets are being improperly distributed, or have knowledge that assets are going to be improperly distributed, it is time to act. You should immediately consult with a Georgia Probate Litigation Attorney, who will work diligently to help restore the estate property to the rightful beneficiaries or heirs or stop the unlawful distribution of estate assets before it occurs. Use of a Georgia Constructive Trusts in Estate Disputes are an effective equitable remedy but may require the injured party to choose between a Constructive Trust and another remedy. Needless to say, once an asset is wrongfully distributed and can no longer be located, the old adage “Possession is 9/10th of the Law” rings true. Remember, in a situation where you believe assets are being improperly distributed or taken, act immediately. The conversion or distribution of these assets can be irreversible leaving you with fewer options for legal remedies.

If you feel that assets have been inappropriately distributed in a probate case, the Atlanta, Georgia Estate Attorneys at The Libby Law Firm are interested in restoring proper ownership and possession by attaching estate assets via a Constructive Trust early on in your case. Constructive Trusts attach to these assets and follow them forever until these assets are held for distribution to the proper parties in interest (heirs and beneficiaries).

The Libby Law Firm Atlanta Probate Lawyers are experienced in all aspects of Georgia Probate Disputes and Litigation. Call us today to discuss any suspected wrongdoing or negligence at (404) 467-8611 or you may send us a confidential message through our “Contact Us” form on our website. The Firm’s main office is conveniently located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta with plenty of free parking.

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