Georgia Probate Lawyers Helping You Navigate Probate and Estate Administration
Most of us prefer not to think about our loved ones passing, but in the event that this does occur, you may find yourself needing the services of a probate lawyer. If you are the executor of a will or if your loved one died without making a will, it is probable that you will have to go through probate, which is the court process that settles the estate of the deceased. This process can be lengthy, complicated, and expensive if you are attempting to do it on your own. A probate attorney can represent you in this legal process and defend your rights to the estate and protect you and your family members in all estate matters. Having legal representation from a knowledgeable attorney during probate can make the process faster, easier, and potentially less costly.
At Georgia Wills, Trusts, and Probate Firm, LLC, our probate lawyers take pride in being the client’s personal representative during this process, so they can focus on their family during what is often a challenging time. We provide knowledge of the law to help you make informed decisions and will fight for your rights if there are estate disputes. If you need help with estate administration, estate planning, or other legal services related to probate law, our legal team would be happy to assist you. Contact us today at (770) 795-4992 to set up an appointment.
What Is Probate and Why Do So Many People Want to Avoid It?
No matter how much or how little you own, you have an estate. Your estate is made up of everything you possess: your car, home, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, and even your furniture and personal possessions. When you pass away, these items have to be passed on to someone else because you are no longer around to legally possess them. This is where probate comes in. Probate is a court-run proceeding that authenticates your will (if one was made) and approves your named executor so they can begin to distribute your assets. As part of this process, all your assets must be located and valued. Once that is finished, and all taxes and debts are paid, the remainder of the estate can be distributed. There are even times when an estate may have to go through multiple probates, such as when the decedent has real estate in multiple states. Having a valid and thorough will does not allow you to avoid probate, but it does make the process much simpler. It grants you the ability to designate where you want your assets to go, whether that is to loved ones or a charitable organization. When a will is not present, then the asset distribution is decided by your state’s intestacy laws which may not align with what you or your family would have chosen.
So why is there so much talk about wanting to avoid probate? Probate can be very lengthy and costly. In cases where there is no will, probate can sometimes take years. During that time, those assets are tied up and cannot be used. The process also includes executor fees, administrative expenses, taxes, and legal fees that must be paid. Probate also requires that everything be done and recorded publicly, with a few exceptions, meaning that everyone can see what assets are part of the estate, and all your creditors and potential heirs must be notified and given a chance to file for debt payments or a portion of the estate. So if a person wants to protect their family’s privacy and potentially save them a lot of time and money, they may work with a probate and estate attorney to create an estate plan to minimize the complexity of the probate proceedings or avoid them altogether.
How Can A Probate Lawyer Help You?
During probate, the court begins the process of distributing the assets of an estate. The assets generally include anything the decedent owned and this unfortunately can encompass debts. Luckily, the probate process in Georgia is not nearly as difficult and expensive as it is in some other states. However, it can be confusing and fraught with pitfalls for the unwary. The assistance of an attorney focused on probate law can more than pay for itself and can reduce the stress that comes along with estate administration. Probate lawyers can help you properly distribute the decedent’s assets and fulfill your fiduciary duty as an executor of a will. For example, many people are unaware that some assets, such as a life insurance policy payable upon death to a named beneficiary, are not required to go through probate. A probate lawyer can help you determine whether an asset is considered a probate asset or not.
At Georgia Wills, Trusts, and Probate Firm, LLC, probate law is one of our practice areas and we can identify cost-saving techniques unique to Georgia. This can save families both time and money. Our law firm can be of use in ensuring that you do not miss important deadlines that could result in hearings or your removal from the office of Executor or Administrator. We can also help you steer clear of personal responsibility for debts of the estate, costly judgments, and expensive legal bills. Finally, a probate attorney can give you advice on how to avoid stressful, emotional, and expensive litigation.
How Are Estate Planning and the Probate Process Related?
Creating a well-designed estate plan can make the probate process much simpler and shorter or can even remove the need for probate at all. If you have your estate planning documents in order, such as a will with named beneficiaries or a living trust, it will be easier for your loved ones to go through the probate process, or (in the case of a living trust) they may be able to avoid it entirely. Consulting with estate planning and probate lawyers long before anything occurs is a good way to ensure that no estate disputes will happen in the future because your wishes will be legally documented. If you do not have a will then the state’s court system controls the process and the timing of the distribution of your assets to your beneficiaries.
A good probate attorney can help avoid any future problems by giving prudent advice during the estate planning process. Attorneys familiar with Georgia law can help interpret and properly apply all the laws and rules bearing on the creation of a will or trust, ensuring that it is all documented to the satisfaction of the law. This is something that a generic fill-in-the-blank DIY form you can download from a website can’t guarantee for you. The benefits of an estate plan go beyond allowing your family to avoid probate, however. You can set up a living will to give instructions on the kind of healthcare you want to receive in the event you are disabled or incapacitated. Our law firm believes in building a strong attorney-client relationship so you can feel confident that we will be there for you as your life advances and your probate and estate planning needs change.
Will a Law Firm Understand Your Probate Needs?
In the same way, you wouldn’t visit a dentist for a broken leg, you also wouldn’t visit a personal injury lawyer or a law firm with another practice area for your probate needs. A probate lawyer has a deep understanding of how state and federal laws will impact you and will fight to get your family the most beneficial outcome from any court proceedings. Having a legal team on your side can give you peace of mind that your best interests are being protected. Whether you are attempting to continue running a family business that has been operating for generations without interruption or you are trying to tactfully navigate a disagreement over a will with a family member, a good attorney can provide guidance and make the process easier.
We know that when a person is going through probate proceedings, it’s not just about property and money; it usually means they have lost someone important in their lives. Our attorneys are here to guide you through this emotionally difficult time. It’s important for you to receive everything that your loved one intended for you. We understand that each family has unique needs. Therefore, we offer a wide range of services so that you can get as much or as little support as you need.
Should I Hire a Probate Lawyer in Georgia?
Every state has different laws that govern probate and estate proceedings. Having a strong grasp of those laws is key to ensuring you receive your proper inheritance in a timely fashion with the least amount of difficulty. If you have been named the executor of a will in Georgia, our attorneys at Georgia Wills, Trusts, and Probate Firm, LLC can give you solid legal advice on the process so you can perform your fiduciary duty. In the event of will contests, we will fight for your desired settlement. Sometimes uncomfortable situations can arise when dealing with family members, wills, and property, but our attorneys can handle these occurrences with compassion and tact and take the pressure off of you. We value building a stable attorney-client relationship so you can rest easy knowing that we have your best interests at heart.
If you are facing the prospect of probate in Georgia or if you want to create an estate plan which negates or lessens the need for probate proceedings for your loved ones, Georgia Wills, Trusts, and Probate Firm, LLC can assist you. Call us today at (770) 795-4992 to request a strategy session with our lawyers.