Being an executor or administrator of a Georgia estate in probate court is no easy undertaking. In fact, as executor or administrator of a GA estate, you are stepping into a position ripe, ready and waiting for conflict and disharmony to develop among all the interested parties to the estate, or worse yet, parties that will use their influence to control others who do have an interest in the estate. To say the least, these matters are already emotional from the death of a loved one and now, as executor or administrator, you are in charge managing the often-greedy heirs or beneficiaries of the Georgia estate. At the very least, this can add substantial administrative and bureaucratic responsibilities to your life as well as significant anxiety and stress. Furthermore, these oftentimes come at a time when you may already be grieving and have your own affairs to manage. In almost all cases, this is further complicated by the significant administrative duties imposed by law on a GA executor or administrator and the fiduciary duties and liabilities that come with this position.
In most GA estates, both executors and administrators are frequently relatives or close friends of the deceased person (the decedent). This would seemingly be a plus; however, more often it turns out to be the starting place of many arguments, endless wrangling, power struggles and ultimately many GA Probate disputes, will contests and litigation proceedings. Many of these GA estate disputes and much of this GA probate litigation stems from the fact that many of the other members contesting the actions and alleged breach of the personal representative’s fiduciary duties are also frequently, family members, relatives, or close friends of the deceased person (the decedent). In fact, it is often the case that these family members, relatives and close friends stand to inherit assets of the Georgia estate or have some interest in the outcome of the distribution of assets.
Perhaps most importantly, acting as a personal representative gives you a fiduciary duty to the estate — that is, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your financial decisions are made with complete information, according to the estate’s best interests and as expeditiously considering the circumstances. This is the same fiduciary duty given to leaders of corporations, and like those leaders, you are legally liable for any lawsuit alleging that you have not met your fiduciary duties. This includes personal liability, which is beyond assets of the estate and not limited in any way, shape or form to the assets of the estate.
As such, where heirs and beneficiaries are fighting over a Georgia estate, whether for personal or financial reasons, the executor or administrator is exposed to an increased risk of allegations. In my Atlanta probate law firm, I have found family disharmony and sibling and family disputes are more common than you would think. I would say that most estates have some level of fighting and arguments during the estate administration period and it is common for this fighting to continue in some form or another thereafter. Moreover, in my experience, I have seen a larger than expected percentage of GA probate disputes rise to the level of court action, sustained litigation and permanent damage among family members. Probably the most important and compelling reason for having a GA probate and estate administration attorney retained before or early on during the GA probate and estate administration process to prevent this hostility over personal and financial matters. An experienced GA probate and estate administration lawyer knows how to navigate through the GA estate administration process in probate court and avoid the pitfalls and issues before they manifest themselves into expensive and protracted probate litigation and family disharmony and fighting becomes permanent behavior amongst once close relatives.
I firmly believe almost everyone acting as a personal representative is better off with the help of an experienced Georgia probate lawyer. Many people named as personal representatives start out thinking they can handle the job without help. As time goes on and the duties and tasks required of them become more complicated, many realize they need the help of a professional Atlanta wills, trusts, and estate lawyer. Many personal representatives have come to me partway through the probate process, needing help unraveling a complicated or unnecessarily expensive legal problem that I could easily have helped them avoid if I had been part of the case from the beginning.
Legal knowledge and experience are some of the most important additions a GA probate lawyer can bring to your performing your duties as executor or administrator of GA estate or assist you in resolving a probate matter. If you are considering hiring an Atlanta estate administration lawyer, please call Our Buckhead Office (404) 467-8611 to discuss your options, or send us a message through our confidential Contact Us form. The Libby Law Firm Main Office is conveniently located in the heart of Buckhead 1/5 mile from the intersection of Roswell and Piedmont Roads and only 1 mile from the Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza Mall.