It can be confusing and difficult, especially during times of grief, to navigate the court system and legal requirements for administering estates, wrapping up final tax filings and other necessary duties. We can help ease this burden. However much or little help you need, from the answers to a few questions, to complete handling of the details, we are happy to provide.
Many Georgia probate forms are available at www.gaprobate.gov. However, knowing which one to use and how to correctly fill it out can be quite a challenge if you are not already familiar with the process. Consulting an attorney for assistance with this can make this process less of a headache and keep it from overwhelming your life.
An Overview of the Probate Process
Gather DocumentsThe first step is to gather the documents that you need. Chief among these are the will and death certificate, but life insurance paperwork, deeds, and other important papers should be gotten together.
File the PetitionFor 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.
Notice to CreditorsA notice must be published in the county’s “legal organ” (the newspaper designated for legal notices) so that any creditors of the estate know to submit their claims.
Marshal the AssetsThis 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.
Filing Tax ReturnIt is the administrator’s duty to file the decedent’s final tax return if one is necessary and to file any tax returns that may be necessary for the estate.
Distribute the EstateThe administrator must pay creditor claims first. After that, the estate can be divided between heirs. If the 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 the administrator.
Close the EstateThis step is often overlooked, but as long as the estate stays open, the administrator continues to have liability. 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.
Many estates are more complicated than these broad bullet points suggest and often it is best for everyone for the administrator to hire an estate attorney and other professionals to help. If your family is struggling with these issues, we can help you sort them out and understand them.