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The Probate Process
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The legal process of probate involves the court intervening to settle the responsibilities of a deceased person and distributing the deceased’s remaining assets. Unfortunately, this court process could become time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally charged. It becomes a difficult situation that no grieving family would ever wish to endure.
This is true whether the deceased left a will or not. The deceased’s assets will be distributed according to their final wishes in the will if they leave a valid will. In the event of a death without a will, their properties will be distributed according to Georgia law.
If you want to secure your family’s future without going through probate court, you have three available options.
Establish a living trust.
Name your beneficiaries for retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and securities.
Establish joint ownership of real property.
All of the above can be done with proper estate planning. Contact the Law Office of Paul Black for reliable advice on avoiding Georgia probate.
Naming Specific Beneficiaries for Securities and Accounts
The state of Georgia allows bank accounts such as savings accounts and certificates of deposit to be designated as “payable-on-death” (POD), eliminating probate. You can name a beneficiary to inherit your assets upon your death.
In the account, all of the money is still yours. Your POD beneficiary has no rights to the money, so you can spend it all as you see fit. In the event of your death, your beneficiary can claim the money directly from the bank without going through probate court.
Similarly, Georgia law allows transfer-on-death registration for stocks and bonds. The beneficiary you name will inherit the account automatically upon your death if you file a TOD (also called beneficiary) form. Taking care of the account will not be necessary through probate court proceedings; the beneficiary will deal with the brokerage company directly.
Some assets where you can specify your beneficiaries include:
Life insurance policies
Note that Georgia does not allow the transfer of real estate or motor vehicles with transfer-on-death deeds.
When Is Probate Required in Georgia?
Probate is mandatory if a person dies leaving a will. That’s because the probate court has to check if the will is valid. If the last will is valid, the deceased’s final wishes shall be followed.
It is necessary to probate a will before distributing assets based on it. The court appoints a personal representative in the absence of a will or no executor named in the will. The executor or personal representative should perform the following tasks:
- Locate all properties in the will or all known properties (if there’s no will).
- Pay all taxes.
- Pay the decedent’s known creditors.
- Publish a notification of the decedent’s death in the local paper within 60 days. Creditors need to come forward within three months of such publication.
- Distribute the remaining assets to the deceased’s heirs.
If you wish to ensure your will is executed according to your wishes, it’s important to create a foolproof will and follow the legal requirements. It is important to update a will on a regular basis to reflect any changes in circumstances. You can draft a will with the assistance of an estate planning lawyer.