Everything You Need to Know About Settling an Estate in Georgia
Speak with a trusted Estate Planning Attorney in Marietta or Alpharetta, Georgia.
Settling an Estate in the State of Georgia: What Is Probate?
Settling a Georgia estate shouldn’t be difficult, especially with the advice of a good estate planning attorney. Learn more in our guide.
Settling a Georgia estate for some can be a complicated and confusing process. Probate is the main way in which the court supervises an estate gets settled. Probate provides the surviving spouse or another close relative the authority to collect the departed individual’s personal property, pay financial obligations, estate tax and other taxes, as well as ultimately distribute the deceased person’s assets to individuals who will inherit them.
The first thing that has to occur in Georgia is to appoint an executor or administrator to represent the estate. We call that individual an administrator if the deceased person had no will and an executor if there is a will. That individual is also called a Personal representative.
In order to have an executor or administrator appointed, a petition has to be filed with the Georgia probate court. With that petition, you are asking the court to appoint an executor or administrator formally. This process is necessary even when a deceased person has appointed an executor in their will. Then, the Probate court will issue a document called Letters Testamentary in case the executor was named in the deceased person’s will, or Letters of Administration – in case a court has appointed an administrator.
In cases involving the Georgia probate process, you should retain an attorney who is experienced in probate law as well as estate planning. They can offer legal advice and determine the best way to proceed with your probate case. Stan Faulkner, lead counsel at Faulkner Law with over 18 years of experience, can do just that. His law firm is dedicated to providing legal help for families, individuals, and small businesses in Georgia.
How Does Georgia Probate Process Work?
There are two types of probate in the state of Georgia: Solemn Form and Common Form Probate. For Solemn Form Probate, all heirs have to be notified, and there’s a hearing where a Personal representative is appointed. Common Form probate doesn’t require notice, but it takes four years for its results to become binding.
After the Probate court issues Letters Testamentary or Letters of Administration, the Representative of the estate has to publish a notice of the probate process in a newspaper where the decedent lived. That has to be done within 60 days, and the purpose of this notice is to inform potential creditors. Creditors have three months to come forward and make a formal claim to the estate.
How Long Does an Executor Have to Settle an Estate in Georgia Probate Court?
The last phase of settling the estate is the distribution and discharge of the property and closing the Georgia estate. After the Personal representative has made sure tax returns are filed and all the taxes and debts are paid, he or she can distribute the remaining assets. That way, heirs or beneficiaries can receive their inheritance.
If there is a will, the Personal representative must follow the decedent’s instructions. If there is no will, Georgia Inheritance laws must be followed. Under these laws, the decedent’s closest relatives, such as a surviving spouse and children, inherit the remaining assets equally.
After that, the executor or administrator must file a Petition for Discharge with the Probate court, requesting to be relieved of their duties. However, the Probate court has to notify all heirs or beneficiaries who did not sign formal consent releasing the executor or administrator from legal responsibility. That gives them a chance to express their concerns or contest Georgia probate.
How to Close an Estate in Georgia
Is There a Time Limit on Settling a Georgia Estate?
Schedule a Free Consultation
Use the form below to tell us about your legal inquiry, and we’ll call you back to schedule an appointment. Please be as detailed as possible. You may also email or call us to make an appointment. Our general response time is one business day.
* Please do not include confidential or sensitive information in your message. In the event that we are representing a party with opposing interests to your own, we may have a duty to disclose any information you provide to our client. *