The Georgia probate process is used in situations when an estate that has been left behind by a deceased family member, business associate or friend needs to be divided and sorted in a legal manner. The good news is that the probate of wills in the state of Georgia typically is not a particularly expensive or time-consuming process, particularly when the will has been prepared by an experienced probate lawyer. This is advantageous for family members and friends that want to move beyond the courts and on with their lives.
The benefits for the family and friends hold even more true with the experienced Georgia probate lawyers of Meyring Law Firm. The highest degree of preparation a person can have to defend their estate, property, and belongings upon their death is by having a well-drafted, well-thought-out Will that clearly expresses the wishes and intents of the grantor. If you’re trying to take the necessary steps to probate in the state of Georgia, specifically from out-of-state, you can discover the process by using a complimentary case evaluation with the Atlanta probate attorneys at Meyring Law Firm. We have over a decade of experience as Georgia probate lawyers counseling residents of Atlanta and out-of-state, helping them protect their future!
The Georgia Probate Process Comes With Many Questions
When a family member or loved one passes away in Georgia with property and the deceased’s family does not live in Georgia, this is a situation that requires out-of-state probate.
How does a friend or family member probate the estate of the deceased if they live far away from the decedent’s home state? There are a host of legal, logistical, and financial questions that need to be answered, especially because of the geographic distance between the friend/relative and the departed.
As probate attorneys, the most common questions we are asked concerning these issues include: Is the Georgia probate process difficult? Would you please explain the Georgia probate process? How long does probate take? Is probate actually needed to handle the decedent’s estate? Why? Do I need to visit Georgia to process probate of the estate? What exactly is probate?
Facts About The Probate Process In Georgia
First and foremost, the good news you’ve been waiting to hear: in the state of Georgia, there is no state tax on “probate assets”. This is similar to states like Florida, South Carolina, and others that occupy the northeast United States and extends additional savings to families that are entering the probate process in Georgia.
The facts and reality surrounding probate proceedings are fairly straightforward when the will has been created by an experienced Georgia probate lawyer. The typical estate probate proceeding in this scenario can be completed in roughly six to nine months under normal circumstances, often at a relatively low cost when compared to the alternative of not having a strong will prepared.
The American Taxpayer Relief Tax Act of 2012 (ATRA) helped to introduce the concept of portability to the probate process, which makes proper probate of an estate and the steps to file a well-planned Estate Tax Return even more critical than in the past. Having the proper legal counsel there for support can pull the curtain back on this process and put your mind at ease.
What Probate Looks Like In Georgia
Probate in Georgia under the State’s laws is a relatively streamlined process. Every estate is different, but pre-planned estates and more agreeable surviving families are the two main factors that increase the speed and ease of the probate process. Probated Georgia estates that experience agreement and harmony among family members and will-named beneficiaries are the quickest to process and least stressful for those members or beneficiaries. Conversely, the decedent that lacks a will and that leaves behind the more estranged and/or blended family will have a higher likelihood to have a long and sometimes more difficult probated estate.
The probate process typically starts with the proper preparation and filing of a Petition to Probate in Solemn Form. Executors appointed through solemn form probate can petition to be discharged from their liability and responsibilities six months after their appointment. This situation is in the instance of a will executed by the decedent. The Petition to Probate in Solemn Form is a representative device through which the court tries to make a decision as to whether or not the will offered up for probate is indeed legally valid. It also looks to decide if it is being executed by the decedent in the necessary manner and follows the grantor’s terms. All of this must be proven to also show that undue influence on the decedent’s mental capabilities has not been present.
Once the Georgia Probate Court approves the Petition to Probate, the individual that is named as the Executor is granted the “Letters Testamentary”, which is the document issued by a probate court that gives an executor the power to act in a fiduciary manner in behalf of the estate. At this point, the Executor is now declared to be the legal representative of the estate of the decedent. At this juncture, once the Executor is vested as the legal representative of the estate, the process of administering the estate begins. What this process entails is the collecting and management of assets of the estate, filing the necessary tax returns related to the estate, paying out and resolving claims that creditors and others may have against the estate, and, finally, distributing the remaining appointed assets of the estate to the named beneficiaries listed under the will.
The duration of probate then enters its conclusion as a Petition for Discharge is filed: the Executor stands before the Probate Court and declares that all duties assigned under the last will and testament have been executed, and the court declares that the Executor is now formally removed of their duties and free of any liabilities associated with the estate.
The person responsible for probating the estate as an administrator or executor should also be careful to select an attorney who focuses their law practice on the probate of estates. In our trusts and estates law firm or Georgia probate attorneys practice, we have seen many estates probated by hired opportunistic professionals when no probate was actually needed. Caveat emptor! Whether probate is needed should always be reviewed by an estates- experienced attorney rather than an opportunist.
How To Probate From Outside The State Of Georgia
The will-named executor or the family-nominated administrator of the estate who lives outside the state of Georgia actually does not need to visit Georgia to probate the estate. Though it may be speedier and less costly to make a one-time visit to Georgia to probate the estate, sometimes the need for speed and the costs to probate the estate are not determining factors, thereby allowing the executor/administrator to probate from their home state. To probate a Georgia estate from outside Georgia, an attorney is required to represent the probating executor/administrator.
When probate in Georgia is needed, the process always requires the executor/administrator to file a petition and the original will – if there is one – in the decedent’s home county probate court. The decedent’s closest surviving relatives are required to be given the opportunity to acknowledge receiving a copy of the will and the petition that would be filed at the court – or they can file an objection. If there is a proper objection to the will, its validity, its contents or even the selection of executor or administrator, that objection will usually delay the completion of probate at least six months. The delay is written into the probate code so as to allow the “parties“ to work it out and resolve the objection or to litigate their differences in the probate court.
Turning To Experience With A Georgia Probate Lawyer
In the end, it is often emotionally difficult for surviving family to deal with the death of their loved one regardless of geography. The role of the helpful probating estates attorney should make the probate process easier for the client, more efficient, and less stressful with professional experienced legal guidance. Our experience has been that clients receive peace of mind during the probate process and are better off after its completion. If you would like that same opportunity as you look towards setting up your last will and testament, or if you would like legal advice on the roles of an Executor during this process and how your family can best function to ensure a quick resolution to an estate when faced with death, reach out to our experienced Georgia probate lawyers!
One of our Georgia probate lawyers in Atlanta can assist you in planning ahead for the probate process by working through a detailed list of instructions regarding the following:
- How to structure a will to expedite the probate process
- What taxes an estate should be cognizant of when planning
- What a named Executor can expect when fulfilling his or her duties as outlined by the will in the probate process