Everything You Need to Know About Probate by Your Athens GA Probate Lawyer
Probate is the process by which a Court authenticates a Last Will and Testament if the deceased made one. The process includes locating and valuing the deceased’s assets, paying the deceased’s last bills and taxes, and distributing the deceased’s estate to those beneficiaries listed in the deceased’s Will.
If a person dies without a Will, they are said to die intestate. The Probate process is still required when one dies intestate to do all of the things that occur during the Probate process when the deceased had a Will; the only difference is that instead of the deceased’s Last Will and Testament determining who receives the deceased’s assets, the laws of the State of Georgia will determine who receives the deceased’s assets.
To ensure that the State of Georgia does not determine who receives your property upon your death, you need to have a Last Will and Testament. Your Athens GA Probate Lawyer is here to help.
The Probate Process When the Deceased has a Last Will and Testament
When the deceased leaves a Last Will and Testament, the Executor (or Personal Representative as it now commonly called) files a Petition to Probate with the court in the county where the deceased resided when they passed. Each county in Georgia has its own Probate Court.
The Petition to Probate requires that the Executor list all beneficiaries who are entitled to receive the deceased’s property under Georgia law, as well as those who are actually named in the deceased’s Last Will and Testament.
If no party objects, the Judge will accept the deceased’s Last Will and Testament as the most recent, valid Will signed by the deceased.
At the same time the Probate Court accepts the Last Will and Testament of the deceased as the most recent, valid Will signed by the deceased, the Probate Judge will appoint the Executor named in the deceased’s Will to serve as the Executor of the estate.
The Executor is then tasked with finding all of the deceased’s assets, paying the deceased’s lawful debts, and distributing the deceased’s assets as set forth in the deceased’s Will.
The final thing the Executor must do is submit an accounting to the Probate Court of all the assets received by the Executor, all bills paid by the Executor out of the assets, and the amount distributed to each beneficiary. After this completed the Executor may file a petition to close the estate.
The Process When the Deceased Dies Intestate (Without a Will)
When the deceased dies intestate, a family member must file a Petition with the court seeking to be appointed the Personal Representative of the deceased’s estate. If appointed, the Personal Representative will do much the same as what the Executor would do if the deceased had died with a Will.
The main difference is that the Personal Representative will distribute the deceased’s property according to the laws of the State of Georgia, and not as the deceased would have wished for their property to be distributed.