Probate lawyers in Georgia understand that while we’re well-versed in the topic, it is a whole new world to most of our clients. That means that you likely have lots of questions about Probate that you need answered. Fortunately, answering those questions is exactly what we do! Let’s tackle three of the most common Probate issues and concerns.
- Do the Probate Courts Have to Be Involved After The Loss of a Loved One?
One of the most common questions asked when someone dies WITH or without a will is whether or not the probate court must be involved. The short answer to this is “yes”… unless you have a living trust in place, which will allow you to avoid the process all together.
The probate court’s job is to ensure that the decedent’s affairs are legally concluded, even if the decedent had a will. This typically means that someone is appointed to be in charge of the estate and must follow through with transferring property to heirs as deemed appropriate. In addition, court fees, estate taxes, creditors, and all other applicable costs will be paid out of the estate. When an executor is named by the courts, he or she is usually either referred to as the personal representative or the administrator.
- Who Inherits the Estate?
When an estate goes into probate, the proper division of property is determined by the courts, either based on the laws of succession or based on the terms spelled out in a will. Each state can have its own laws in regards to how the property is divided, so working with a probate attorney in Georgia is the best way to ensure you understand what applies in your case.
The most common method of distribution when there is no will is for property to go to family members. Most states, after taxes, fees and other outstanding costs are paid, will award money and property first to a current spouse and children of the decedent. If this person is unmarried and/or without children, the estate will likely go to parents, with siblings, grandparents, and aunts and uncles falling in line after those. In cases where no family members are found, the estate can become property of the state.
- How Can I Avoid Probate?
The best way to avoid probate, of course, is to create a trust. Assets properly held in a trust are not subject to the expenses and delays of probate after death. A probate lawyer or estate planning attorney in Georgia can help you determine your needs and goals and get you set up with the right documentation to make sure that your wishes are outlined well in advance. That way, you make the decisions about your estate, instead of leaving it in the hands of the courts.