Whether you are creating your own estate plan or involved in the administration of a recently deceased loved one’s estate, a basic knowledge of the Georgia probate process is essential.

What Is Probate?

Most people leave behind an “estate” when they pass away that is made up of the assets they owned at the time of death. An estate may include real property such as a home or land, personal property such as cash, vehicles, and collectibles, or intangible property which may include copyrights and intellectual property. The assets that make up the estate must be identified, valued, and eventually transferred to the new owners. The legal process by which this is accomplished is referred to as “probate.”

Who Oversees Probate?

If the decedent left behind a valid Last Will and Testament, the person named as the Executor in that Will is responsible for overseeing the probate of the estate. If the decedent used a trust agreement to distribute estate assets, the Trustee of the trust is responsible for administering the trust. If the decedent died intestate (without a Will or trust), the court will appoint an “Administrator” to oversee the probate process.

Are All Assets Part of the Probate of an Estate?

Because formal probate can be time-consuming and costly, probate avoidance is a common estate planning goal. One way to minimize an estate’s exposure to probate is to include as many “non-probate” assets as possible in an estate. These are assets that bypass probate and may be distributed immediately upon the death of the owner. Common examples of non-probate assets include:

  • Assets held in a trust
  • Proceeds of a life insurance policy
  • Assets held in an account designated as “Payable on Death (POD)” or “Transfer on Death (TOD)”
  • Assets held jointly with rights of survivorship
  • Certain retirement and pension accounts

What Happens during Probate?

Following the decedent’s death, the Executor or Administrator of the estate must identify and secure all estate assets. Initiating the legal process of probate requires submitting a petition to the appropriate court and notifying creditors of the estate to allow them to file claims against the estate. All claims must be paid or resolved, challenges to the Will litigated, and state/federal taxes paid before the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate.

Speak to an Experienced Georgia Probate Attorney Today

If you wish to incorporate probate avoidance strategies into your estate plan or you are involved in the probate of an estate, contact an experienced Georgia probate attorney to discuss how we can help you by calling 678-784-4150.


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Have a Query?

Need more information or have legal questions? Contact us directly at 678-784-4150.

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