Atlanta, Georgia probate litigation Lawyers, who specialize in wills, trusts, estates and probate, as I do, tell clients and potential clients that meeting with an Atlanta, GA attorney to acquire an overview of how their assets are held is essential. This straightforward estate planning is indispensable because some assets are better suited when held or titled in a form under which the assets will pass outside of the purview of the Georgia county probate court. It is also a critical step to ensure that your assets pass to the persons or entities you desire and to avoid almost unavoidable fighting, bickering, probate disputes and probate litigation that develops when it is not clear where, and/or to whom, estate assets are legally to be distributed.
Unfortunately, most of us neglect to say why this is a good idea. In fact, if Georgia county probate courts didn’t happen to be in charge of granting marriage licenses, most Georgians might never encounter the word “probate” until they lose a loved one and matters are mixed up and confusing to say the least. However, this is not the Georgia county probate court’s fault in any way, shape or form. It is the lack of planning on the individual’s part that causes the potential and oftentimes devastating confusion and fighting amongst family members. As such, it is critical to meet with an experienced Atlanta, GA probate lawyer to set up your estate plan in a fashion which will avoid all of the above-mentioned confusion. In short, the old sayings go: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and “greed brings out the worst in people“. The fact of the matter is, if there are estate monies, stocks, assets, properties, etc. which are not clearly designated to an heir or beneficiary under an estate plan formulated by a qualified Atlanta, GA estate planning and probate lawyer, people will fight “tooth and nail” to get at these assets and make them their own. And, you can rest assured they will not come alone, they will come with their own Georgia probate lawyers, accountants, experts and the like. An experienced attorney can create an estate plan for you that can help to prevent these disputes, or at least minimize them to a large extent.
Simplified, the county probate court is in charge of the legal process of administering and eventually closing an estate — assets and debts — of someone who has died (called the decedent). In Georgia, the county probate court oversees all people who die owning property in their own names, regardless of whether they had a will. The estate administration process includes:
• Proving that the decedent’s will is valid;
• If there is no will naming an executor, or the executor named isn’t fit, appointing an administrator for the estate;
• Taking an inventory of the decedent’s property, including appraisals if necessary;
• Paying any taxes and debts the estate owes;
• Distributing the remaining property as the will directs, or if there is no will, distributing it according to state law under the authority of the probate court.
As you can see, this is a formal legal process. Georgia county probate courts are relatively streamlined and uniform, but the estate can expect to pay at least some court costs and fees, plus the fees for any necessary personal executor/administrator, a lawyer, an accountant, or a financial professional. If the decedent did not have a will, or if there’s a conflict between the heirs and beneficiaries of the estate, those costs can go up substantially and everyone involved may have to appear in court. To prevent this from occurring with your estate, you should meet with an Atlanta, GA estate planning and probate lawyer to discuss your options.
If it makes financial and personal sense for you to avoid probate in Atlanta, GA (Fulton County Probate Court); Decatur, GA (DeKalb County Probate Court); Marietta, GA (Cobb County Probate Court); Lawrenceville, GA (Gwinnett County Probate Court); or any other Metro Atlanta, GA or GA County Probate Courts, you’ll need to take steps to ensure that your property is titled properly. Property that is not part of an estate may include any property with a named beneficiary, like a retirement account (IRA); property held jointly with another person; or property held in a trust, including a living trust. Experienced lawyers, experts and staff at The Libby Law Firm LLC, are ready to help you understand how your assets are held and if your property is held in the manner best suited for your particular situation. If changes are needed to ensure your desires are met, our Atlanta, GA lawyers, experts and staff will assist and guide you in setting up the appropriate estate plan. Our Atlanta lawyers have significant experience and care in assisting you in exploring your options and advising you of the tax consequences each step of the way. To speak to our Atlanta, GA lawyers about planning your estate, asset protection and probate matters, you can call us at our Buckhead Office at (404) 467-8611, Toll Free at contact us online.