Many Georgia residents want to avoid the probate process, which is understandable. If you have never had to probate a will before, the process can seem complicated.
You may also have heard that the probate process takes a long time, and while that is somewhat true, it is because there are various steps that must be completed.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, but the probate process typically takes about one year to complete. This time could be shorter or longer, depending on your situation.
What exactly is probate?
The probate process involves distributing someone’s assets according to their will. Not all assets must go through the probate process.
Assets that are jointly owned with someone else or that have a named beneficiary will automatically go to those people.
Any other assets named in a will need to go through probate. The will also designates someone as a personal representative, who is responsible for completing each step in the process. A personal representative is sometimes called an executor.
Steps in the probate process
The basic steps to probate a will involve filing the will with the probate court, identifying and collecting all the assets listed in the will, paying off any debts and taxes and then distributing any remaining assets to heirs.
What can make the process complex is that each step usually involves filing documentation with the court or completing other required legal steps.
For example, when it comes to paying off debts, you must give notice to all the estate’s creditors. This notice must be filed in a local newspaper.
Closing out the estate
Additionally, when you are finished distributing the assets to the named heirs, you must provide documentation that the heirs received the assets and a report of all steps you completed, so the estate can be closed.
You may have never probated a will before, and it is probably the last thing you want to do while you are grieving a loved one. Working with an estate planning attorney can save you time and stress.