Probate and Estate: What’s The Process When Someone Passes Away

Probate is the process of proving a will in court. When a person passes away with a will, it has to be legally accepted by a court of law before the items in the will can be carried out as described. This process is in place to ensure the deceased’s creditors and heirs receive their proper debts and inheritances. Creating a will is strongly encouraged because if a person passes away without a will, Georgia law has authority to distribute the assets as they see fit.

How long it takes to complete probate depends on multiple factors but if the will follows all required procedures, the estate can be closed in as few as 6 months. Whether the estate is subject to estate tax, the type and size of the property, and which beneficiaries are designated can all affect the probate process and cause delays in closing the estate.

Handling the death of a loved one, whether it be you or a family member, will always be a traumatic undertaking. Creating a will can help ease in your family members’ stress when dealing with attorneys, insurance companies, and heirs to your estate. Our goal is to guide you and your family through this difficult process whether you have been through it before or not.

What Items Should I Gather To Begin The Probate Process?

Dealing with the grief of a passed loved one is difficult but getting started on the probate process as soon as possible will aid in being able to officially lay them to rest. Finding the decedent’s will or trust should be your first priority when beginning the probate process. Many people keep these types of important documents in a home safe or bank safety deposit box. If you are having trouble locating either of these documents, an attorney can assist your search. The attorney who drafted the documents will usually have a copy at their office.

If you are pre-planning for your passing, store these documents together in a safe place to make your family’s search a little easier. A folder or a 3 ring binder will keep them organized and allow your family to have everything they need in one place when the time comes to handle your affairs.

What Is The Probate And Estate Administration Process?

When creating a will, you or your loved one will have the opportunity to name an executor of the estate. The executor is placed in charge of handling the deceased’s remaining financial obligations. If no executor is assigned in the will, one will be appointed by the court.

Once the executor is recognized they are tasked with filing a petition, along with the original will and a copy of the death certificate, in the probate court of the county the deceased used to reside. The executor must then take an oath to follow their fiduciary duties of paying any outstanding bills and transferring property to the beneficiaries of the will. The executor will receive Letters Testamentary, giving them the legal authority to carry out their duties of the estate.

How Long Does The Court Process Take?

As mentioned above, some estates that have no outstanding issues can be closed in as few as 6 months. However, that is not the case for many and it should not come as a surprise if your probate case is open for 12 months or longer.

Certain obstacles that could lead to a longer probate length are: persons’ contesting the validity of the will, assets that are harder to split such as business interests, estate taxes, and property division. This is why consulting an attorney when formulating your will is important. Your attorney can give you options for keeping your estate as simple to distribute as possible. Leaving certain assets up to chance with your loved ones could cause unnecessary arguments and stress.

We know planning for the loss of a loved one can bring up just as many emotions as losing them. We’re ready to take some of that difficulty off your shoulders and handle the legal proceedings for you. The Success Firm is here to explain the court process, guide you through what to expect, and answer any questions or concerns you may have before closing the estate.

If you’re ready to start the process of creating or probating a will, give us a call at (404) 709-2158, or book an appointment here.

Attorney Success is a licensed member of both the South Carolina and Georgia State Bars, accredited by the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as a registered neutral with the State of Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution. She is a lifelong resident of central DeKalb County and a graduate of the University of Georgia. The Success Firm is serving the growing needs of the Metropolitan Atlanta area located in Decatur, GA. Attorney Success delivers legal solutions in the best interest of her clients.

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