The Law Offices of Kristyne L. Seidenberg, Esq.
Focused on Estate Planning, Fiduciary Law, and Education Law
Have you found yourself in the position of being the Executor of someone's Will or the Personal Representative for an Estate? The Law Offices of Kristyne L. Seidenberg, PC can provide affordable guidance and consultation services that would help you navigate those processes.
There are a number of different proceedings which may be necessary following the death of a Georgia resident or a non-resident owning property in the State of Georgia. These matters are filed in the Probate Court of the county of the deceased’s residence in Georgia or in the county where property of a non-resident is located. Often, there are other matters (e.g., tax returns, preparation of deeds, title transfers, benefit claims, creditor notices, final expenses, medical bills, debtor demands, etc.) which need to be addressed.
When a property owner dies, the property may change hands in one of several ways. The estate plan (will or trust) of the deceased, if there is one, will determine how real estate transfers to heirs or survivors. The Executor or trustee is the court-authorized person designated in the will to convey the property under its terms and fulfill the wishes of the deceased person after that person’s creditors have been paid.
If there was not a valid Will involved, all interested parties must find out who inherits assets under “intestate succession.” Georgia has "intestate succession" laws that parcel out property to the deceased person's closest relatives. This requires court involvement. If there is no valid Will present, it will be necessary to involve the Court to administer an estate.
It's important to understand that many kinds of assets aren't passed by will, these assets (such as life insurance proceeds, retirement funds, transfer on death accounts to name a few), are called non-probate assets and they are a very important consideration and must also be dealt with. Those types of assets pass contractually via beneficiary designations memorialized when those accounts were created. It is often quite difficult to sort this out without the help of an attorney.
It is the responsibility of the person legally authorized to probate or administer the estate to determine or select the proceeding appropriate to the specific situation. Probate Court Staff are helpful, but cannot give you legal advice or make any decisions for you. It is the responsibility of the person legally authorized to probate or administer the estate to properly complete all forms and pleadings filed with the Court.
Glossary of Common Terms:
• Administrator - The person who administers a decedent's estate when there is no will.
• Administrator with Will Annexed - The person who administers a decedent's estate when there is a Will, but the Will either fails to name an Executor, or the named Executor cannot or will not serve.
• Decedent - The deceased person.
• Executor - The person who administers a decedent's Estate when there is a Will.
• Heirs at Law - Those persons who would inherit the estate if there were no Will.
Intestate Without a Will.
• Letters Testamentary/Letters of Administration - The official document issued by the Probate Court evidencing the authority of an executor or an administrator.
• Probate - The court procedure by which a Will is proved to be the valid last Will and Testament of a decedent; also used generically to refer to the legal process of administering a decedent's estate.
• Probate Court - The Court having jurisdiction over proceedings to administer the estate of a decedent; also has jurisdiction over many other matters.
• Testator - Person who has made a Will.
• Will - A document, signed with the formalities required by Georgia law, by which a person makes disposition of his property, to take effect after his death.