Georgia Probate Lawyers | Hire A Georgia Probate Attorney

Georgia Probate Lawyers - Georgia Probate Attorneys - What Is A Probate Lawyer

Are you looking to hire a Georgia probate lawyer? 

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • what is a probate attorney 
  • what a probate lawyer does
  • the Georgia probate process and how they help you navigate it
  • how to choose the right probate attorney
  • questions that our clients ask us

Let’s dig in.

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What Is A Probate Lawyer In Georgia?

A Georgia probate lawyer is an attorney who specializes in managing the legal affairs of a deceased person’s estate. 

They play a crucial role in the Georgia probate process, which includes:

  • validating the decedent’s will
  • identifying and valuing assets
  • settling outstanding debts and taxes
  • distributing the remaining assets to the rightful beneficiaries

In addition, probate lawyers represent clients in estate-related disputes, such as:

  • contesting wills
  • addressing conflicts between beneficiaries and executors
  • dealing with issues of undue influence, lack of capacity, or fraud 

Their knowledge and expertise ensure that the estate administration process is carried out:

  • effectively
  • fairly
  • in compliance with the law

Let’s talk about what to expect from a probate attorney in Georgia.

What Does A Georgia Probate Lawyer Do?

A Georgia probate lawyer plays a crucial role in navigating the complex probate process.

Their expertise in the field ensures that the executor or administrator of an estate can fulfill their responsibilities effectively and efficiently. 

This article will discuss the specific roles of a probate lawyer in Georgia, including:

  • legal guidance and representation
  • resolving disputes
  • preparing and filing documents

Legal Guidance And Representation

A probate lawyer in Georgia plays an essential role by providing legal guidance and representation. 

They assist the executor or administrator of an estate in understanding and carrying out their responsibilities effectively throughout the probate process.

This involves:

Advising The Executor Or Administrator

A Georgia probate lawyer:

  • helps the executor or administrator understand their responsibilities
  • advises them on the necessary steps to take
  • guides them through the entire probate process

A Georgia probate law firm will help you with:

Representing The Estate In Court Proceedings

A Georgia estate attorney represents the estate in any court proceedings related to the probate process.

This includes things like: 

  • hearings for appointing an executor or administrator
  • approving the distribution of assets
  • resolving disputes among beneficiaries or creditors

Ensuring Compliance With Probate Laws And Court Rules

A Georgia probate law group ensures that the estate’s administration complies with all applicable Georgia probate laws and court rules.

This helps to avoid potential legal issues, delays, and additional costs.

Resolving Disputes

Another important role of a probate lawyer is to help resolve disputes that may arise during the probate process. 

This includes:

Addressing Challenges To The Will

A Georgia probate lawyer can help address challenges to the validity of the will.

This includes challenges like:

  • allegations of undue influence
  • fraud
  • lack of testamentary capacity

Our probate and estate lawyers will work to defend the will and ensure that the testator’s intentions are carried out.

Handling Disputes Among Beneficiaries

Disagreements among beneficiaries can complicate the probate process. 

A probate lawyer can mediate these beneficiary disputes.

This helps everyone to reach a fair resolution.

And it ensures that the estate is distributed according to the will or applicable laws.

Managing Creditor Claims

Our Georgia probate law group helps the executor or administrator manage creditor claims against the estate.

An experienced probate lawyer ensures that:

  • only valid claims are paid 
  • that the estate’s assets are protected

Preparing And Filing Documents

A probate lawyer is also responsible for preparing and filing necessary legal documents throughout the probate process. 

This includes:

Drafting Legal Documents

A probate attorney drafts various legal documents, such as:

  • petitions
  • inventories
  • accountings

Your probate attorneys will also ensure that the documents are:

  • accurate
  • complete
  • in compliance with Georgia probate laws and court rules

Submitting Required Filings To The Court

A probate lawyer is responsible for submitting all required filings to the appropriate probate court in a timely manner. 

This includes things like: 

  • filing the initial petition to open the estate
  • submitting an inventory of assets
  • providing the court with periodic accountings of the estate’s administration

Ensuring Accurate And Timely Completion Of Paperwork

Finally, a Georgia probate lawyer helps ensure that all paperwork related to the probate process is:

  • filled out accurately 
  • submitted within the required timeframes

This helps to avoid delays, additional costs, and potential legal issues.

Georgia Probate Law

Georgia probate law governs the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. 

The probate process in Georgia involves:

  • validating a will, appointing an executor or administrator
  • identifying and gathering assets
  • paying debts and taxes
  • distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries

The probate process can vary depending on whether the deceased person:

  • left a will (this is testate)
  • did not leave a will (this is intestate)

In the Georgia probate process:

  • probate courts handle the administration of estates
  • probate lawyers can provide valuable assistance throughout the process

Read More: How Much Does It Cost To Probate A Will In Georgia?

What Is The Georgia Probate Process?

The probate process in Georgia starts by:

  • filing a petition with the probate court
  • notifying heirs and creditors
  • appointing an executor or administrator 

Next, the executor or administrator:

  • gathers estate assets
  • obtains appraisals if needed
  • submits the inventory to the court
  • pay debts and taxes
  • notify creditors
  • settle valid claims
  • file estate tax returns 

At this point, the remaining estate can go to the beneficiaries. 

The executor or administrator will:

The Georgia probate process involves several steps to settle the estate of a deceased person:

  1. Opening The Estate: File a petition with the probate court to open the estate. Notify heirs and creditors, and appoint an executor (if there’s a will) or an administrator (if no will exists).
  2. Inventory And Appraisal: The executor or administrator identifies and gathers estate assets, obtains professional appraisals when necessary, and submits the inventory to the court.
  3. Paying Debts And Taxes: The executor or administrator identifies and notifies creditors of the estate, pays valid claims, files estate tax returns, and pays any taxes due.
  4. Distribution Of Assets: The executor or administrator prepares a distribution plan, obtains court approval, and transfers assets to the beneficiaries as per the will or Georgia intestacy laws if there is no will.

Opening the Estate

The process of opening an estate in Georgia begins when someone passes away. 

It involves filing a petition with the probate court to admit the will (if there is one).

And the appoint an executor or administrator. 

The court then reviews the petition and makes a decision regarding the will’s validity or the need for an administrator. 

Once approved, the executor or administrator notifies all heirs, beneficiaries, and potential creditors.

They do this with notices published in a local newspaper for four weeks. 

The probate court appoints an executor named in the will or an administrator if there is no will.

Inventory and Appraisal

During the probate process, the executor or administrator is responsible for identifying and gathering all estate assets.

This includes real estate, personal property, bank accounts, investments, and other valuable items. 

A detailed inventory of these assets, along with their approximate values, must be created. 

Professional appraisals may be necessary for certain assets, such as real estate or valuable personal property.

This determines their fair market value and ensures accurate valuation for distribution and tax purposes. 

Finally, the executor or administrator must submit the completed inventory to the court for verification of assets and their values.

This ensures all assets are accounted for throughout the probate process.

Paying Debts and Taxes

During the probate process, the executor or administrator is responsible for addressing the estate’s debts and taxes. 

This includes identifying and notifying creditors, who then have a specified period to file claims. 

After the claims period, the executor or administrator reviews and pays valid claims using the estate’s assets. 

If there are insufficient assets, payments must be prioritized according to Georgia law. 

Additionally, the executor or administrator:

  • must file required estate tax returns 
  • pay any taxes due

This includes federal, state, and income taxes owed by the deceased.

Distribution of Assets

After settling all debts and taxes, the executor or administrator can distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries. 

They must create a distribution plan based on the will’s provisions or Georgia’s intestacy laws if no will exists. 

The executor or administrator must also obtain court approval for the plan to ensure adherence to the will or state law before distributing the assets.

FAQs About Hiring Georgia Probate Lawyers

Here are questions clients have for our probate law attorneys.

How Much Does It Cost To Get A Will Probated In Georgia?

The cost to probate a will in Georgia varies depending on several factors, like: 

  • the size and complexity of the estate
  • probate attorney fees
  • probate court costs 

Some common expenses associated with probate in Georgia include:

  • Court Filing Fees: These fees depend on the type of probate proceeding and can range from $100 to several hundred dollars.
  • Publication Fees: Georgia probate law requires public notice of probate proceedings, which typically involves publishing a notice in a local newspaper. Publication fees can range from $40 to $100.
  • Appraisal Fees: If the estate includes assets that need a professional valuation, appraisal fees may apply. These fees vary based on the type and value of the assets.
  • Bond Premiums: Executors or administrators may be required to post a bond to protect the estate from potential mismanagement. Bond premiums depend on the estate’s value and the creditworthiness of the executor or administrator.
  • Attorney Fees: If a probate attorney is hired to assist with the probate process, fees can vary depending on the estate lawyer’s experience, the estate’s complexity, and whether the lawyer charges hourly rates, flat fees, or a percentage of the estate’s value.
  • Miscellaneous Expenses: Additional costs may include postage, certified copies of court documents, and other administrative expenses.

Do You Need A Lawyer For Probate In Georgia?

In Georgia, you are not legally required to have a lawyer for probate. 

However, hiring a probate attorney can be beneficial, particularly in complex or contested cases. 

A Georgia probate lawyer:

  • provides guidance
  • ensures compliance with Georgia probate laws
  • represents the estate in court proceedings
  • helps resolve disputes
  • prepares necessary legal documents 

Executors or administrators who feel confident in handling the probate process may choose to do so without a probate lawyer.

But legal assistance can streamline the process and minimize potential issues.

How Long Do You Have To File Probate After Death In Georgia?

In Georgia, there is no strict deadline to file probate after a person’s death. 

However, it is generally advisable to start the probate process as soon as possible.

This ensures the efficient administration of the estate. 

Executors or administrators should file the petition for probate with the appropriate probate court.

This needs to get done within a reasonable time after becoming aware of their appointment. 

Beginning the probate process promptly helps:

  • protect the estate’s assets
  • address creditors’ claims
  • distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries in a timely manner

Read More: How Long Can You Keep An Estate Open After Death?

What Assets Are Exempt From Probate In Georgia?

In Georgia, several types of assets are exempt from probate. 

This means they can be transferred directly to the beneficiaries without going through the probate process. 

These assets include:

  • Jointly Owned Property: Real estate, bank accounts, or other assets held in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship automatically pass to the surviving owner(s).
  • Payable-On-Death (POD) Accounts: Financial accounts, such as bank accounts or investment accounts, with designated beneficiaries will be transferred directly to the beneficiaries upon the account holder’s death.
  • Transfer-On-Death (TOD) Securities: Stocks, bonds, or other securities registered with a transfer-on-death designation pass directly to the named beneficiaries.
  • Life Insurance Proceeds: Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries will be paid directly to the beneficiaries, bypassing probate.
  • Retirement Accounts: IRAs, 401(k)s, and other retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries transfer directly to the beneficiaries without probate.
  • Assets Held In A Living Trust: Property and assets held in a revocable living trust are managed and distributed by the trustee according to the trust’s terms, avoiding probate in Georgia.
  • Small Estates: Georgia allows simplified probate procedures or the avoidance of probate altogether for small estates with a total value below a certain threshold, as long as certain conditions are met.

Read More: How Much Does An Estate Have To Be Worth To Go To Probate?

What Happens If You Don't Probate A Will In Georgia?

If you don’t probate a will in Georgia, several consequences may arise:

  • Delayed Asset Distribution: Beneficiaries may not receive their inheritance in a timely manner, as the assets cannot be legally transferred without probate.
  • Potential Disputes: Without a Georgia probate, there is no legal framework to resolve disputes among beneficiaries or challenges to the will, which may lead to conflicts.
  • Unresolved Debts And Taxes: The estate’s debts and taxes may not be paid, which can result in penalties, interest, or legal actions against the estate.
  • Missed Deadlines: Georgia probate law requires that a will be submitted for probate within a certain time frame. Missing this deadline may lead to additional legal complications.
  • Legal Liability: The executor or administrator may face legal liability if they fail to probate the will and fulfill their fiduciary duties.

Read More: How To Probate A Will In Georgia

Do You Have To Go Through Probate If You Have A Will In Georgia?

In Georgia, having a will does not automatically exempt an estate from the probate process. 

A Georgia probate is generally required to:

  • validate the will
  • appoint an executor
  • ensure the proper distribution of assets to beneficiaries

But, some estates with minimal assets or those that primarily consist of assets can pass outside of probate.

These include things like:

  • jointly-owned property
  • assets with designated beneficiaries
  • assets held in a trust

They may not need to go through the full probate process. 

In some cases, Georgia offers simplified probate procedures for smaller estates.

Read More: What Has To Go Through Probate In Georgia?

How Do I Start Probate In Georgia?

To start probate in Georgia, follow these steps:

  1. Locate The Will: Find the original last will and testament of the deceased person, if there is one.
  2. Gather Information: Compile essential details, such as the deceased’s assets, debts, and beneficiaries.
  3. Petition The Court: File a petition for probate with the appropriate Georgia probate court in the county where the deceased resided.
  4. Notify Interested Parties: Inform beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors about the probate proceedings according to the court’s requirements.
  5. Attend The Hearing: The court will schedule a hearing to validate the will and appoint an executor or administrator.
  6. Obtain Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration: If the court approves the executor or administrator, they will issue these documents, giving the appointed individual legal authority to manage the estate.
  7. Complete The Probate Process: The executor or administrator will need to identify and appraise assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets according to the will or Georgia inheritance laws.
  8. File Necessary Documents: Submit required documents and reports to the probate court, including an inventory of assets and a final accounting of the estate.

Who Inherits When There Is No Will In Georgia?

When there is no will in Georgia, the estate is considered intestate.

And the deceased’s assets are distributed according to Georgia’s intestate succession laws. 

The distribution follows a hierarchy, as outlined below:

  • Spouse: If the deceased had a spouse but no children, the spouse inherits the entire estate. If the deceased had a spouse and children, the spouse and children share the estate equally, with the spouse receiving no less than one-third of the estate.
  • Children: If there is no surviving spouse, the children inherit the entire estate, divided equally among them.
  • Parents: If there is no surviving spouse or children, the deceased’s parents inherit the estate, shared equally if both are alive.
  • Siblings: If the deceased has no surviving spouse, children, or parents, the siblings inherit the estate, divided equally among them.
  • Nieces And Nephews: If there are no siblings, the nieces and nephews inherit the estate, divided equally among them.
  • More Distant Relatives: If none of the above relatives are alive, the estate is distributed to more distant relatives according to Georgia’s intestate succession laws, following the order of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
  • Escheat To The State: If no relatives can be found, the deceased’s assets ultimately escheat, or revert, to the state of Georgia.

Hire A Georgia Probate Attorney

If you want help from a probate law firm, fill out the form below. 

At The Hive Law, we understand the importance of:

  • protecting your hard-earned assets 
  • ensuring your family’s future
  • not losing everything to creditors and lawsuits
  • properly (and legally) distributing assets 

We only accommodate a limited number of clients each month.

So don’t miss your opportunity to work with our probate lawyers.

Benefits of our probate services:

  • Tailored solutions to fit your unique needs and goals
  • Expert guidance in navigating complex tax and legal matters
  • Preservation of your wealth for future generations
  • Streamlined asset distribution according to your wishes

Avoid the pitfalls of inadequate probate strategies:

  • Creditors seizing your assets
  • Lawsuits jeopardizing your family’s financial security
  • Family disputes over inheritance
  • Costly and time-consuming probate processes

Talk soon.

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