Honoring Final Wishes Through Probate
Fulfilling a loved one’s estate planning requests can be confusing and difficult. Navigating the court system and legal requirements for administering estates, wrapping up final tax filings and other necessary duties is often too much for those who are grieving. Consulting an attorney for assistance can make this process less stressful and keep it from overwhelming your life.
Atlanta probate firm Siedentopf Law is here to help. We’ve helped individuals and families across Metro Atlanta with their probate needs, including general monitoring and management of standard probate processes, as well as advising on and representation for issues including intestacy concerns, rumors of elder financial abuse prior to death, contesting of the will, government liens on estate assets and more. Reach out to us today about how we can help you through all aspects of Georgia’s probate process.
An Overview of Georgia’s Probate Process
For those who are uncertain what is involved in administering a will or estate plan during the Georgia probate process, we’ve detailed out the more typical aspects:
The first step is to gather the probate process documents that you need. Chief among these are the will, death certificate, life insurance paperwork and property deeds. If the deceased had additional financial or estate planning items in place, like retirement accounts, business ownerships, trusts, etc., any and all paperwork relating to these should also be gathered.
For most people, this is a two-part step that starts with a visit to an attorney and ends with signing and filing the petition for probate. Along with the petition for probate, all legal heirs have to be notified of the proceeding. All known legal documents should be brought for initial reference.
A notice must be published in the county's "legal organ" (the newspaper designated for legal notices) so that any creditors of the estate have opportunity to submit their claims.
This is fancy legal wording for "getting all the stuff together." It is the estate administrator's duty to open an estate bank account and round up all of the other assets of the estate, from the smallest of knickknacks to houses and more.
It is the estate administrator's duty to file the decedent's final tax return, including any outstanding or extended tax returns, as applicable.
The estate administrator must pay all creditor claims first. Once these are settled, the remainder of the estate can be divided between heirs. If the estate administrator is being paid for handling the estate, as many have the right to be, this is when the statutory fees are calculated to pay them.
This step is often overlooked, but as long as the estate remains legally open, the estate administrator is liable for the estate. Officially closing the estate helps to limit that liability and start the statute of limitations running for any claims arising from the handling of the estate.
Even when the amount and types of assets themselves aren’t overwhelming, the formality and bureaucracy of the probate process is often too much, becoming like a full-time job for the estate administrator. It is typically better for everyone involved to hire estate planning professionals to help make the process more efficient. Schedule an appointment with Atlanta estate planning firm Siedentopf Law today to start the probate process.
Handling Estate Probate Disputes in Georgia
Many estates are more complicated than the above bullet points may suggest. And unfortunately, no matter how clear the estate plan may appear on the surface, there can be those who come in to dispute the validity of certain aspects.
Siedentopf Law helps individuals and families throughout Metro Atlanta when probate disputes arise. We have experience representing clients with will caveats, objections to a petition for year’s support, guardianships and more. We can also help in situations of financial abuse by a power of attorney as well as the mishandling of a probate estate by the executor.
If your family is struggling with these or other estate plan probate issues, contact Siedentopf Law today and we will help you sort them out.