Articles Posted in PROBATE ADMINISTRATION & LITIGATION

Published on:

In my many years as a Georgia probate attorney, I have represented numerous clients in probate cases. Most often my relationship with a client begins when I am asked this question, “How long will the Georgia probate process take?” In reality, this is only part of the question. What most parties in a Georgia probate hearing really want to know is, “When will I receive my share of the Georgia estate’s assets?” The answer to these two questions depends on several factors, including the speed that the petition can be completed and filed with the Georgia probate court, and then the length of time that the court will take to rule on the case. Nevertheless, I will say that the Georgia probate process in general takes anywhere from a little over six months to a few years. Therefore, I submit to you three rules of thumb, which I hope you will helpful and moderate your expectations. They are as follows:

One, be prepared to wait a substantial amount of time for the full probate process to be completed and the estate to be closed. Two, be patient and hope for the best, but be prepared to wait a long time if the particular case warrants this. Three, generally the more fighting, disagreement, disputes, and litigation, which may occur between the heirs, beneficiaries, and/or executors, the longer the probate process will take. Nonetheless, if it is any consolation, know that distributions may be made from the estate assets as the estate progresses through the Georgia probate process.

Once the required Georgia petition for letters testamentary or administration is filed, objections to the petition can be submitted during a set period of time (Objections in Georgia probate court are called “Caveats”). If objections are brought forward, then one or more hearing(s) is usually required which will delay the proceedings. If no objections are made, the court will not require a hearing and will order that the estate be opened, or that the administration of the estate begin. Georgia county probate courts will allow administration to begin when satisfied that the petition filed was carefully drafted. The petition must include the names of all the parties involved and the petition has to meet all of the Georgia probate petition legal requirements.

Although many factors can slow down a probate proceeding, there are several key items that are worth mentioning. The first is the location and number of beneficiaries. Where the beneficiaries live adds time to the process, as documents need to be shuffled back and forth for signature. Further, it is unreasonable to think that everyone will agree on everything all the time, so the greater number of beneficiaries involved can increase the odds for disagreement. In cases where beneficiaries have a lot at stake, they sometimes will hire their own legal counsel. When this is the case it can take more time to communicate and resolve issues.

Will contests in Georgia can cause significant delays in probate proceedings. A will contest is to determine the validity the Last Will and Testament of the deceased (the decedent). Anyone is allowed to hire a Atlanta, Georgia will contest lawyer and legally challenge the validity of the decedent’s will. Even when the reasons for filing a Georgia will contest are found to be bogus, the court must investigate each claim thoroughly before the probate process can continue. This can take up precious time and causes unnecessary expense. The degree of complexity of the assets in the estate can also increase the time that probate proceedings take. Before estate assets can be distributed, they need to be identified, located, and inventoried by the administrator or executor of the estate. Bank accounts and family homes are not very complex, and can be processed fairly quickly. In contrast, business interests and offshore investments can take more time to sort out and distribute.
Continue reading →

Published on:

As an Atlanta, Georgia, Attorney, I encounter an ever-increasing number of cases filed contesting the validity of the Testator’s Will. The Libby Law Firm’ skilled Georgia Probate Attorneys can explain to each individual Heir(s) or Beneficiarie(s) and Executor(s) or Administrator(s) alike, the nature of such proceedings, and what it means to them in their particular situation.

AFTER THE TESTATOR HAS PASSED AND THE ESTATE IS BEING PROBATED

One of the cases commonly referred to and used as a defense to undue influence is Haynes v. First National State Bank of New Jersey case in 1981. The New Jersey Supreme Court established that the burden of proof lies on the proponent, especially when there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the will. It is also extended to transfers of property between donors and beneficiaries. The donee must bear the burden of proof and establish that the transfer of property was a gift and not the result of undue influence. This is altogether not so problematic when other heirs and beneficiaries received gifts, estate taxes mandated gifts of property and other wealth to use the Testator’s Unified Credit, and more. Therefore, it is common that related parties make gifts to their “flesh and blood” rather than have this money go to the Georgia Department of Revenue or the United States Treasury (the IRS).

Another landmark case is Pascale v Pascale in 1988. The New Jersey Supreme Court stated that the donee must establish for the court that the donor had an unbiased and competent counsel prior to the drafting of a Georgia Will or Power of Attorney. It is also helpful if these documents remain relatively similar in disposition of assets and powers given to the Power of Attorney In Fact. This is especially true if the donor is found to be mental or physically weakened. However, if the instructions and dispositions in these documents remain relatively the same, then a “best practices management” argument would be as follows:

• Argue to the Jury that whether it was a time the Testator was knowingly competent and understanding the consequences of all his or her acts, to the time when lack of capacity of undue influence might have set in, that even after the onset of some disease making a person susceptible to Undue Influence, the Testator’s wishes and desires remained the same.

• You may also argue that any confidential relationship can create a presumption of undue influence that the donee must then prove to be otherwise. A donee with superior knowledge of financial matters, fiduciary relations, or one who is directly responsible for the physical care of the donor can be considered to have an extraordinary relationship that could create undue influence. However, you will then go on to say someone has to take care of the loved one, and why should it not be another loved one rather than a hired paid caregiver who possibly doesn’t care about the disposition of the Georgia Testator’s Estate.

• To the contrary, Consider King v Brown in 2006. The jury found the will to be invalid due to undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity. In 2002, the decedent divided his estate between his 6 children in a will. Shortly thereafter, two of the decedent’s daughters (King and Brown) were named his guardians and they began to quarrel over the estate and money. When his house was destroyed, the decedent moved in with his daughter King and shortly thereafter wrote a new will disinheriting Brown and leaving his estate to his daughter King. The jury decided that this was a result of undue influence because the father had become so dependent on his daughter for care and influenced by King decided to disinherit his daughter. This is obviously the scenario you to avoid in your case and defense.

A PROCEDURE TO FOLLOW BEFORE THE TESTATOR SIGNS THE WILL, AND A WILL CONTEST IS ON THE HORIZON.

The types of joint account disputes involving family members can be avoided by asking an experienced and qualified Georgia Estate Planning and Probate Attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia to set up a Georgia Will that clearly defines the Testator’s desired intentions. Keep in mind that while probate proceedings resolve issues on these difficult and emotionally charged cases, your heirs are the ones who will live not only with the outcome, but also with the consequences caused by any drama that plays out during the proceedings. With the proper planning, you can eliminate this turmoil and create a positive experience for your loved ones. Moreover, documentation of the Testator’s ailment is necessary as is making sure that capacity is shown at the time of the making of the will as well as having a recent visit from a doctor are always helpful ways to document the intentions of the Testator.

In fact, it may be prudent to video tape the proceedings, take extra steps to make sure the Testator is of sound mind, ask a lot of difficult questions to demonstrate the Testator’s capacity, and also possibly record the Georgia Will execution. What is more, have the proper unbiased witnesses there who do not know the Testator and do not in any way shape or form have an interest in any Georgia will contest proceeding. This also might be time to add an extra witness to your Will and not use your own paralegal as a witness or witness the Georgia Will itself. The fact is, acting as if this situation does not exist is the absolute wrong thing to do. You may also want to do the following:

• Record the proceeding


• Have extra witnesses unrelated at the will signing

Ask extra questions to determine the Testator’s capacity

• Put an “In Terrom” or “No Contest” clause in the Will

• Acknowledge the left out parties and state why as opposed to just oddly leaving them out altogether looking as if the Testator forgot these would be heirs of beneficiaries did not exist

• Remember, when one makes a will must know and do as follows: 1) know the contents of the Will Document; 2) Know the Nature of his or her bounty; 3) Know and Understand the Nature and extent of his or her assets for disposition.

• The capacity to make a will is less than the capacity to make a contract, and only a lucid moment in time by the Testator necessary

• Use Common sense!

The Libby Law Firm Atlanta, Georgia Will Contest Defense Lawyers know how to use the one party’s acts or omission against them. Remember, we are often on the other side of the Georgia County Will Contest Case. The Adams Firm Atlanta Estate Litigation Lawyers know what to look for, bring to the attention of the jury, and downplay.
Continue reading →

Published on:

North Georgia estate disputes can easily ruin relationships between family members. These types of issues include will contests and sticky situations such as the removal of a family member deemed unfit to be the executor of the will. We can all think of examples of famous estate disputes that have resulted in long drawn-out legal battles that last for years, even some that extend beyond the lifetime of the heirs. Due to the emotionally charged nature of probate hearings, when an issue comes to the surface during probate it is difficult to solve quickly without more emotional and financial damage to family members and a loss of estate assets.

Georgia Probate Mediation in the North Georgia/Metro Atlanta area, is one alternative to allowing disputes to be resolved in a protracted probate trial. The Probate Judge will often prescribe a court ordered mediation to resolve conflicts between heirs and beneficiaries of a Georgia Estate. This is done before the probate proceedings start or just after they begin, when conflicts have just come to the surface. During mediation the parties involved can air their concerns, present evidence and confront each other on the issues. Anything agreed upon between the parties during mediation is binding and will carry forward into the probate hearing. An experienced North Georgia probate litigation lawyer can assist in this type of mediation by helping participants present their position on the issues.

There are some red flags to consider indicating that North Georgia estate disputes are likely and mediation should be considered. These include multiple marriages during the life of the deceased, children who are left out of a will, preferential treatment of people outside of the family, special treatment given to certain children and family members (other than the spouse), recent changes to the will that cut out specific heirs and when the administrator or executor are slow to perform the Georgia Law Required Fiduciary Duties required of them. If these conditions present themselves, it is a good idea to consult with an Atlanta, Georgia probate attorney with expertise in estate litigation, who also has experience with dispute mediation. With good legal representation, all sides in the dispute can receive fair treatment and the probate process can move forward before the estate’s assets are spent.
Continue reading →

Published on:

As a probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia (and the surrounding Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Marietta, North Georgia, and Metro Atlanta Areas), who specializes in Atlanta, Georgia, Probate Litigation, my clients frequently ask how they can avoid the Georgia probate process altogether. There are several reasons to want to sidestep probate, including speed of distribution of the assets to beneficiaries and the cost of the process, in both time and money. Privacy may be an issue as well. Probate proceedings are a matter of public record, so non-probate asset classification provides the estate and beneficiaries with anonymity. Only non-probate assets that contractually name a beneficiary can escape probate, but with a little planning many assets can be classified in this way. Common examples of non-probate assets are as follows:

Common examples of non-probate assets are tax-deferred retirement accounts, like 401(k) and IRA accounts, and proceeds from life insurance policies. Bank accounts can also be classified as non-probate assets when set up as Payment on Death Bank Accounts. The same can be done by setting up bonds, Stock and brokerage accounts as Transfer on Death Securities. Under either of these methods, the beneficiaries have no interest or access to the assets while the owner is alive and ownership of the assets is only transferred to the beneficiaries upon death. To protect real estate holdings or financial accounts, they can be set up with Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship. This structure is common between married couples and automatically transfers the assets to the survivor when one of the owners dies.

Living trusts are another effective way to circumvent the probate process. A Georgia revocable living trust allows property to transfer directly to the beneficiaries named in the trust. Once this type of trust is set up, title to the assets passes to the trustee who has the job of managing the trust during the life of the grantor. In Georgia, the grantor can also be named as the trustee. As trustee, the grantor has free access to the assets while alive and may sell, trade, buy, liquidate or donate the assets. A common misconception is that once assets are transferred into a trust, they are protected against all claims from creditors. Yet, because the assets are under the total control of the grantor, the trust does not stop creditors from pursuing the assets. Nevertheless, it is more difficult for assets to be taken from a trust, as creditors in Georgia must file a petition in court to do so. Another advantage of Georgia revocable living trusts is that the grantor can change the terms of the trust or reclaim title to the property at any time. Upon the death of the grantor, a successor trustee distributes the property directly to the beneficiaries after death of the grantor.
Continue reading →

Published on:

As an Atlanta Lawyers; Especially Atlanta Will Challenge Lawyers, I have seen the number of cases on the rise. As an Atlanta, Georgia Probate Litigation lawyer, I have represented many clients in different types of will contests. Especially common are the cases that involve undue influence in the writing of wills. When undue influence is found to have played a role in the writing of the will, then the court can determine that the will is null and void.

Undue influence occurs when an act takes place that overcomes the victim’s free will. Undue influence is most likely when there is a confidential relationship between those involved and when one of the parties is of greater mental capacity. The confidential nature of the relationship and ability of one party to exert influence over the other party due to a superior intellect are the key factors that allow the manipulation to go unnoticed.

Many cases of undue influence occur between parents and children. When a close relationship exists between one child and the parent, it is possible for the child to manipulate the parent into signing a Georgia will that favors that particular child. It is also possible for the influence to come from outside the family, for example from a hired caregiver who spends large amounts of time with the elderly person.

When faced with a case of undue influence regarding a will, the Georgia probate court will examine the mental state of the deceased at the time that the will was executed. Evidence of mental or physical coercion is required. Because direct evidence is difficult to collect (since the victim is deceased), the courts will rely on circumstantial evidence for proof. The court will try to determine if:

1) the decedent was easily influenced, due to age, health or general mental state

2) the person suspected of undue influence had an opportunity to coerce or manipulate the victim

3) the person suspected of undue influence had the motive or disposition to influence the victim

4) the person suspected of undue influence was actively involved in creating the will

5) the will appears to have been influenced


Continue reading →

Published on:

As a Georgia probate attorney who practices in the metro Atlanta area, I have found my probate law firm practice has recently changed its focus. In large part, this is due to the need for answers and accountability on the part of executors and administrators.

I am finding more and more heirs and beneficiaries calling into my office with the same complaint against the executor or administrator of the Georgia estate. These concerns center around the executor or administrator refusing to provide the beneficiary or heirs of the estate with an accounting and an inventory of the Georgia estate assets. The common runaround the executor or administrator usually gives the beneficiary or heir is they have no duty to provide such information. However, Georgia beneficiaries and heirs should know they can make a legally binding request in writing to the executor and administrator of the estate for an inventory and accounting of estate assets. Oftentimes beneficiaries or heirs have waived this right, but they can renounce this waiver in writing and move forward with a petition for inventory and accounting. O.C.G.A. § 53-7-32 (2008) provides as follows:

§ 53-7-32. (Revised Probate Code of 1998) Waiver of right to receive; relieving personal representative of duty to make

(a) Any beneficiary of a testate estate or heir of an intestate estate may waive individually the right to receive the inventory from the personal representative. Such waiver shall be made in a signed writing that is delivered to the personal representative and may be revoked in writing by the beneficiary or heir at any time.

If you are worried about the monetary, fiscal, or fiduciary mismanagement of a Georgia estate to which you are a beneficiary or heir, you have options and rights under Georgia probate law. The Libby Law Firm represents beneficiaries and heirs in all stages of probate proceedings to get answers from unfair, dishonest, and deceitful executors and administrators. The Libby Law Firm welcomes the opportunity to assist you in filing a petition for inventory and accounting and acquiring the answers you deserve.
Continue reading →

Published on:

As a Georgia will dispute lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, . . .

I surmise that if you are creating your will, you will likely want to reduce the chances of your loved ones squabbling over your estate and ending up in lengthy court battles. Avoiding a Georgia will contest, however, begins the moment you start to contemplate making your will.

At The Libby Law Firm, our Atlanta will dispute attorneys can help minimize confusions surrounding your will and draft a will that will distribute your estate exactly as you desire, without the risk of will contests arising. After all, if a will is found to be invalid or thrown out, then you risk your estate being distributed according to Georgia law, also referred to the Georgia Laws of Intestacy.

GOOD DRAFTING AND PLANNING

It is crucial to hire an Atlanta will lawyer with the experience and skill needed to draft a solid will document. If you have a significant amount of wealth to distribute, you need to be careful about “disinheriting” anyone. Disinheriting family members, no matter the reason, usually sets the grounds for will challenges and disgruntled family member arguments. It is best to divide your estate accordingly.

CONSIDER GIFTING ITEMS BEFORE YOUR DEATH

It is wise to consider giving relatives and loved ones valuables and monies ahead of time, to avoid any arguments and challenges. The more “lifetime giving” you can engage in, the better off you will be. Consider establishing trusts and other such funds for beneficiaries.

INSERT A NO CONTEST CLAUSE IN YOUR WILL (OFTEN CALLED AN
“IN TERROM” CLAUSE)

You can insert a “no contest” clause in your will document that will prevent heirs from challenging your will’s validity in court. While it is still possible to challenge this clause in court, it may help decrease the likelihood of a disgruntled heir contesting your will.

CONTACT AN EXPERT IN ATLANTA WILL CONTESTS, WILL DRAFTING, AND GEORGIA PROBATE

At The Libby Law Firm, we understand the complications that surround wills and estates. As such, we can help you prepare for the future and create a will that is designed to divide your estate in accordance with your wishes and desires. If you are concerned about the possibility of a will contest, call us today for a consultation. The Atlanta will contest lawyers at The Libby Law Firm can help you determine which course of legal action is right for you.
Continue reading →

Published on:

As an estate lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, one of the most common questions I am asked as an Atlanta estate administration attorney is how to stop Georgia estate heirs and beneficiaries from fighting with Georgia estate executors and administrators. Usually this question comes from the executor or administrator whose life has been turned upside down by the demands of their fiduciary duty or claims that they have committed a breach of fiduciary duty in Georgia. Most executors and administrators want to get through the process as efficiently and quickly as possible in order to return to their normal daily life. But there are other reasons to keep the peace when acting as an executor or administrator.

By actively limiting conflict during the proceedings, it is true that the estate will be distributed faster, but it will also be administered with more assets intact. When Georgia estate disputes arise, hearings, mediation, and litigation, is likely not far behind. Unjustified Georgia mediation, hearings, and litigation proceedings can cost precious time and wastes estate assets. The executor or administrator funding to defend this type of legal battle usually comes directly out of the assets of the estate, so the more time spent feuding, the less money is available to distribute.

Monetary and time issues aside, it is important to keep the wishes of the decedent in mind and preserve family harmony. I believe that most people write wills in part to limit infighting over estate assets. When people ask me about the benefits of a will, I am quick to state that preservation of family harmony and the legacy of the decedent are important reasons to have a will. By maintaining a transparent estate administration process between heirs and beneficiaries and executors and administrators, conflicts can be minimized and the decedent’s wishes can be honored. The executor or administrator can perform the required fiduciary responsibilities and properly keep beneficiaries and heirs informed while meeting all deadlines
By retaining an experienced Georgia estate administration lawyer, you can maintain the following:

• Preservation of family harmony

• Preservation of estate assets for distribution

• Lessen the time frame for estate distributions

• Avoid the stigma family infighting imposes

If you are executor or administrator of an estate, or these duties are pending, you should retain an experienced Georgia estate administration lawyer to assist you. You will appreciate the benefits and peace of mind you receive. You will also be able to feel confident in your actions as they are approved by your lawyer. Moreover, your lawyer will assist you in preparation of documents, explanation of the process to heirs and beneficiaries, and silence anyone who cries “foul.” At The Libby Law Firm, we are glad to assist you in full and let you take all the credit. We can also stay in the background in case some issues arise, which need to address immediately. As they say, “The Libby Law Firm has you covered.” No matter what your level of education, chances are you have not been an executor or administrator before. It is not an easy task and we are here to help. Please do not hesitate to Contact Us. If you have been in this situation before, then perhaps I am telling what you already know, that you need a skilled Georgia estate attorney to assist you.

Continue reading →

Published on:

Personal representatives of Georgia estates perform a complicated task that carries a serious fiduciary responsibility and is closely monitored by the probate court system. Personal representatives, also known as executors and administrators, are either named in a will or appointed by the probate court to administer the assets in a decedent’s estate. Georgia probate law allows for personal representatives to hire legal counsel related to the Georgia probate process and also permits a fee to be paid for the work on the estate. The fee is a percentage based on the value of assets identified by the personal representative as estate property, the income generated by the assets in the estate during the probate administration process and the value of assets that are distributed by the estate at the end of the Georgia probate administration proceedings.

Georgia Code – Wills, Trusts & Estates – Title 53, Section 53-6-60

(b) If the personal representative´s compensation is not specified in the will or any separate written agreement, the personal representative for services rendered shall be entitled to compensation equal to:

(1) Two and one-half percent commission on all sums of money received by the personal representative on account of the estate, except on money loaned by and repaid to the personal representative, and 2 1/2 percent commission on all sums paid out by the personal representative, either for debts, legacies, or distributive shares;

(2) Ten percent commission on the amount of interest made if, during the course of administration, the personal representative shall receive interest on money loaned by the personal representative in that capacity and shall include the same on the return to the probate court so as to become chargeable therewith as a part of the corpus of the estate;

To properly understand the exact value of the assets and what percentage of these items is allowed as a statutory fee, it is important to consult with an experienced Atlanta, Georgia probate attorney. A probate attorney can also help the personal representative fulfill the fiduciary responsibility that is inherent in the task of administering an estate. The personal representative is required by law to fairly perform the duties and failure to do so can result in a lawsuit against the executor or administrator. Even if the failure to perform the duties properly is due to an innocent lack of understanding by the personal representative, he can be held legally responsible. Hiring a Georgia estate lawyer will not only limit the personal liability of the representative, but will also help preserve estate assets and keep the beneficiaries and heirs satisfied so that the estate can be administered as efficiently and quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, in my Atlanta, Georgia Probate Law firm many personal representatives only come to me for help once problems have surfaced during the probate process. In most of these cases, by the time I get involved a lot of damage has already been done that results in a loss of estate assets and a break down in the relationship between the personal representative and the Georgia beneficiaries and heirs. Most times these individuals are family members and, during the stress of the Georgia probate process, the conflict caused by innocent misunderstandings can permanently damage these precious relationships.
Continue reading →

Published on:

As a Probate lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I realize that terms that are commonplace in our Georgia Probate Practice, are foreign to the layperson and even non-probate attorneys. To a seasoned attorney, Georgia Probate-Estate Administration can be relatively straightforward when the Georgia Estate Proceedings do not involve siblings or relatives who argue, objections court appointments, the sale of properties or assets, or caveats – which is a legal word for “objection.” This type of calm and smooth Georgia Estate Administration Proceeding is rarely the case. Conversely, probate is not a simple a matter to the heirs, relatives, and close persons to the decedent. Most Georgia Probate-Estate Proceedings are emotionally charged where rises to unprecedented levels. This is also true for disputes between all parties in interest to the Georgia Estate Proceedings. Moreover, the protracted nature of the Georgia Probate Proceedings can take a heavy toll in terms of the time consumed and emotional strain.

Probate Related FAQs

(1) What is the duration of the probate process?

In some cases, an Estate Administration Proceeding can be completed in a year. However, a couple of years is the norm and you should prepare to be patient and not worry about the day-to-day Estate Administration to which you are an interested party. In fact, opening the estate usually takes a minimum of 45 days. This involves, inter alia, completion and filing of papers, fixing a date for the hearing and issuing notices, letters, bonds, etc., and assumes all parties are amicable.

(2) How does one deal with creditors?

Creditors of the deceased must be issued notices after the submission of letters. In this connection, the mandatory claim period is 120 days during which the creditors may come forth with their respective claims upon the estate of the deceased.

(3) What are the expenses involved?

Probate involves what in legal parlance are termed costs and fees. Costs are expenses related to filing for opening the estate (In the Georgia, the fees and expense are in the hundreds of dollars. Moreover, the fees and expenses vary greatly from county to county. Recently, the fees have been rapidly rising and I would not even venture to guess the fees for the purposes of any future reason), issuing notices, and appraisal of assets by the court-appointed probate referee. Legal Fees are an estate expense. However, if the Georgia Estate is riddled with infighting, caveats (“objections”), hearings, and more, the legal fees, cost, and expenses can be significantly more.


(4) How does one distinguish between executors and administrators?

The distinction is based on the simple premise that the two function in two different situations – the court appoints an executor in the case of a testate death (“the deceased had a Will”) and an administrator in the case of an intestate death (“the deceased had no Will”). Executors are issued “Letters Testamentary” while administrators are issued “Letters of Administration,” both Letters outlining their court-conferred powers in respect of the estate. The term personal representative can be used to refer to both executor and administrator. Executors, administrators, and personal representatives have a Fiduciary Duty to heir and beneficiaries of the Estate. The Fiduciary Duty is one of the highest duties imposed by Georgia Law.

(5) Are there any cases in which a probate can be bypassed?


Yes, probate does not apply to assets such as insurance, retirement, and bank accounts if they name a living beneficiary. These assets are said to pass outside or probate and are Non-Probate Assets. In addition, in the case of joint assets, probates can be bypassed in case of death of the first owner (e.g. in the case of a jointly held home or bank account). In the state of Georgia, this also extends to assets forming part of a living trust. These are the general provisions and the particulars may vary depending on the laws that shall apply on a case-to-case basis. It is rare that there an estate is completely probate asset free, so all decedent’s estates should explore the whether the probate process is necessary. Even in cases where the Georgia Probate Assets total less than $10,000.00, there is a Georgia Probate Proceeding, which can be filed requesting the Probate Judge to Order “No Administration Necessary.” Therefore, there is really no Georgia Estate that can pass without touching base with the County Probate Court in some way, shape, or form.

Starting off, any executor, administrator, or personal representative undertaking to probate a Georgia Estate should consider retaining an experienced probate lawyer to assist with the Probate Proceedings. First, the choice to retain a lawyer demonstrates that you want a fair-minded unbiased person involved with the Georgia Estate Administration. This also shows the other interested parties to the estate that you welcome transparency in the Estate Proceedings and all interested parties are welcome to any information concerning the Estate Administration. Taking this action goes a long way to calming fears and suspicions of the “self-dealing personal representative all heirs and beneficiaries fear.” Realistically, it takes a huge burden off your fears of inadvertently breaching your fiduciary.
Continue reading →