Savannah probate lawyers can help when a loved one passes away even if they didn’t have a will. Whether your loved one had a will or not, his or her estate must be probated.
Probate is the court process to transfer assets from the deceased’s estate to the beneficiaries or heirs of the estate. The probate process serves as a means to resolve disputes and a place where final claims of creditors can be satisfied. Probate lawyers like the ones at Smith Barid assist clients with the process to ensure that the work of wrapping up a loved one’s affairs proceeds smoothly in the Chatham County Probate Court. The length of time needed to complete probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the schedule of the probate court.
Every probate estate is unique, but most involve the following steps:
- Filing of a petition with the proper probate court.
- Notice to heirs under the Will or to statutory heirs (if no Will exists).
- Petition to appoint Executor (in the case of a Will) or Administrator for the estate.
- Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Executor/Administrator.
- Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors.
- Sale of estate assets.
- Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.
- Final distribution of assets to heirs.
If your loved-one owned assets through a well-drafted and properly funded living trust, it’s likely that no court-managed administration is necessary. There is a process to trust administration, but it’s much simpler than probate and doesn’t involve the waiting periods imposed on a personal representative in probate. This means that a trustee will have immediate access to the assets in the trust.
Trust administration differs depending on the type of trusts used to plan the estate, but generally involves the following steps:
- Gathering the Assets
- Certification of successor trustee
- Application for Tax Identification Numbers
- Distribution of Assets
*This checklist is intended to outline a number of basic steps typically undertaken in most probate proceedings.