Probate is the legal procedure that determines the validity of a will. Probate can be time-consuming, costly and complicated, especially if there are disputes among the family members or creditors.
However, there are some steps that families can take to handle Georgia probate more smoothly and efficiently.
Is it necessary?
Not always. Not all Georgia estates have to go through probate, and some assets can be transferred outside of probate, such as those that are jointly owned with rights of survivorship, have beneficiary designations or are held in a trust.
Additionally, Georgia has a simplified probate procedure for small estates that are worth less than $10,000 and have no debts or disputes. If you are not sure whether probate is required or not, consult with a probate attorney.
Notify the heirs, beneficiaries, creditors and other interested parties. The executor or administrator should notify all the people who have a legal interest in the estate about the probate process. This includes the heirs (the relatives who would inherit under intestacy laws if there is no will), the beneficiaries (the people who are named in the will to receive a share of the estate), the creditors (the people or entities who have a claim against the estate) and any other parties who may have a stake in the estate (such as former spouses or children from previous marriages).
The notice should include information about how to contact the executor or administrator and how to file a claim or objection.
Assets and liabilities
Inventory and appraise the estate assets and liabilities and determine their value as of the date of death. This may require hiring professional appraisers or experts to evaluate certain items, such as real estate, jewelry, art, business interests, etc. The inventory and appraisal should be filed with the court and provided to the heirs and beneficiaries.
Debts and taxes
Pay the debts and taxes of the estate. This may include funeral expenses, medical bills, credit card debts, mortgages, loans, taxes, fees, etc. The executor or administrator should also file any required tax returns for the deceased person and the estate and pay any taxes due. It is only then that the heirs or beneficiaries can receive their share.
Probate can be a challenging process for families dealing with the loss of a loved one. However, by following these steps and seeking professional guidance from a qualified probate attorney, families can handle Georgia probate more effectively and peacefully.