Does All Property Go Through Probate In Georgia?
Not all property will have to go through probate. If you have a joint bank account, whoever is on that account with you automatically becomes the owner of the bank account and the money in it. Another good example are retirement accounts. Normally, the retirement account company will ask you to designate a beneficiary or beneficiaries to receive the account assets in the event of your death. If you do this, upon your death, the assets will automatically pass to the designated person or persons without any probate action being necessary.
When you have a piece of real property owned jointly with right of survivorship (JWROS), it is called a survivorship deed. If you and your spouse own a home or a property with right of survivorship, then upon the passing of one of you, the other one automatically gets and keeps the property without it having to go through probate.
Thus, with some good planning, you can avoid having to address a lot of your assets through the probate process. Probate is not, however, the end of the world. Probate is simply the process of applying to the probate court in the county where the deceased last lived for authority and permission to either carry on the person’s desires as are expressed in their last will and testament or, if they died without one, then to distribute the property in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
How Long Do We Have To Probate A Will In Georgia?
There is no real time limit on probating a will. However, things get very complicated when a generation passes without probating the estate or will of someone. You often find situations where a grandparent has passed, then their child passes, and you end up with a grandchild who has to probate not just one estate but two, three, or four estates at one time to get things properly settled and resolved. It is always better to address it right away than later. If in doubt, ask an attorney.
How Long Does It Generally Take To Go Through The Entire Probate Process In Georgia?
The average probate case takes 8 to 14 months. It can take longer in complicated cases or where there is fighting amongst the heirs. Once you are appointed as administrator or executor of the estate, you have to publish what is known as a notice to creditors and debtors in the local newspaper once a week for four weeks. Then, you have to allow several months for any potential creditors or debtors to file claims with the estate. You then have to address those claims and distribute the remaining property to the heirs. Once that is completed, you should file a petition to be relieved as the administrator or executor (so that you cannot later be held liable for estate debts or obligations), which requires another notice/publication of notice in the paper before the judge can close the estate out formally.
Can Someone Realistically Try To Navigate Probate On Their Own In Georgia?
You are not required to have an attorney for probate. However, unless you’ve done it a time or two before, it can be daunting to get through the process. An attorney can give you a roadmap and guidance on how to proceed. The courts and the people who work for the courts are not allowed to give you legal advice, so you are really on your own, if you try to do it by yourself. While it will cost you some money to hire an attorney, the added speed, efficiency, and ability to do things right the first time (and thereby minimizing your exposure to be liable for doing something wrong) will make it more than worth it.
What Generally Is The Outcome Someone Should Expect Once The Probate Process Is Over?
After probate, you will have ascertained all of an estate’s assets and debts, you will have satisfied those debts (through negotiation and payment in their proper priority under the law), and you will hopefully have had some assets left over to distribute to the heirs. To close the estate, you will have to file a “petition to be relieved as administrator of the estate” and be formally relieved of your duties to avoid any potential liability down the line. The idea is to get this process done in 12 months or less. If you take an extended period of time, then the estate will have to start filing annual income tax returns, which complicates things.
For more information on Probate, a free case evaluation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (912) 662-5555 today.
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