South Georgia Probate, Estate & Trust Administration

Are you in charge of a loved one’s estate and don’t know where to begin?

Settling a loved one’s estate while grieving can be overwhelming. You don’t have to do this alone. We can help you through the probate process and get you back to living your life without all the mess.

What is probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process that your estate goes through after you pass away. It’s like tying up loose ends.

An estate will go through probate when a person passes away, leaving property (like a house, car, or bank accounts) in their own name.

Probate is usually needed even if the person had a will.

Probate can be a long, tough journey. It can take about a year for an estate to go through court, which can feel like forever for your loved ones waiting to inherit.

This can all feel pretty complicated.

It’s a good idea to have someone in your corner that understands the ins and outs of probate, like our team at Hamilton Estate, Trust & Elder Law Firm. We’re here to guide you through these challenging times.

Contact us at (229) 207-0850 or click here to get started today.

The Georgia Probate Process in 4 Steps

This is a simple version of what probate in Georgia looks like:

1. File a petition to open your case

You start by submitting a request to the probate court.

This is like asking the court to confirm that the will is valid and to appoint the person who'll handle the estate (also known as the executor or personal representative).

2. Notify heirs and creditors

Next, you have to let family members and anyone owed money by the estate know what's going on.

This is sending out the official announcement that the probate process is in motion.

3. Pay debts and taxes

The executor then uses the money from the estate to pay off any debts or taxes.

Picture it as tidying up financial loose ends before figuring out what's left.

4. Distribute the Assets

Finally, the remaining assets are given to the people named in the will.

If there's no will, Georgia law decides who gets what.

This is just an overview, and probate can get quite complicated. 

Delays can mean family members don’t have access to the funds they may need to pay funeral expenses. Disputes between beneficiaries and haggling with creditors are some of the other issues that can come up.

You don’t need to do this alone. 

Our team at Hamilton Estate, Trust & Elder Law Firm is here to guide you through each step and make sure you and your loved ones get what you’re entitled to.

Does Uncle Joe need Probate?

Imagine Uncle Joe, your warm-hearted, jovial uncle who spent his summers at his much-loved lake house. You have fond memories of joining him there, soaking in the tranquility of the place.

Uncle Joe knew how much you loved the house, so he decided to leave it to you in his will.

Upon learning this, you feel a rush of emotions.The house, echoing with laughter and memories of summer days spent with Uncle Joe, is now yours.

You might be wondering…

“Is the lake house really mine now?”
“Can I start packing away Uncle Joe’s things? Maybe spruce up the place a little?”

There’s a crucial step before you can truly call the house your own – probate.

Despite Uncle Joe’s clear intentions in his will, the legal system needs to validate the will and officially transfer the house to your name.

If Uncle Joe had any outstanding debts, probate comes into play again. It ensures these obligations are taken care of from his estate first before any remaining property gets passed along as per his will.

What if Uncle Joe had made other arrangements, like setting up a living trust for the lake house or adding a co-owner to the property? In those cases, those specific assets might bypass the probate process.

We know that the death of a loved one is a sensitive time, both emotionally and legally. Remember, you’re not alone.

No matter what stage of the process you are in, the team at Hamilton Estate, Trust & Elder Law is here to guide you. Click here to get started.

Three ways to avoid Probate in Georgia

If you want to make sure your family isn’t stuck in court after you pass away, here are three options you can take:

Go with a trust-based plan

Wills are one-way tickets to probate court, but you can get around that with a trust-based plan. Upon your passing, the assets in your trust are distributed according to the terms of the trust.

Use beneficiary designations

Review and update beneficiary designations on retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and annuities. By naming beneficiaries, you can ensure that these assets pass directly to them outside of probate.

Use a Payable-on-Death (POD) account

Bank accounts, investment accounts, and even vehicles, can be assigned a payable-on-death or transfer-on-death designation. This allows you to name beneficiaries who will inherit those assets directly, without probate.

Estate Administration and the Role of the Executor

We listen and learn from you.

An executor of an estate, sometimes known as a personal representative, is the person named in a will to carry out the wishes of the person who has passed away, also known as the decedent. 

Choosing an executor for an estate is an important decision. 

Typically, the person chosen is an adult child, spouse, sibling, close friend, or professional executor. 

The person selected needs to be trustworthy, organized, and capable of handling financial matters and legal procedures.

If you’re an executor of an estate, you have some important tasks to take care of, including:

As you can see, being an executor is a big job, but an important one. 

You’re carrying out someone’s final wishes and helping to take care of their loved ones.

If you have been chosen as an executor and need help, we’re here for you!

Trust Administration and the Role of the Trustee

At Hamilton Trust, Estate & Elder Law, we’re dedicated to assisting our clients in creating trust-based estate plans that can bypass probate.

A trust, when correctly established, funded, and maintained, holds assets instead of them being in the deceased person’s name. This provides a way to manage the estate privately, without the need for probate.

It’s crucial to remember, though, that trusts are not self-operating. Work must be performed to ensure that the trust assets are properly managed and transferred, which is the role of the Trustee.

If you have been chosen as a trustee, you should fully understand and know your responsibilities. 

Trustee duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

A lot comes with being a trustee!

For that reason, we believe that trustees should be educated about their duties prior to their service. 

We offer training workshops to our clients and the trustees that they name to administer their trusts. Upon disability or death, we assist the trustee in administering the estate and ensuring that all their duties are properly performed.

Probate = court costs, delays, and family fights

Do you want to leave your family with a mess? 

Or do you want them to grieve you in peace, without the stress?

The good news is you can help your family avoid probate AND provide peace of mind. 

Whether you are planning ahead or in the middle of probate right now, we are here to help you no matter what step you are at.

You don’t have to go through this alone.

We understand how stressful it is when a loved one passes away and you’re overwhelmed with grief, court dates, money, and just trying to do the right thing.

It’s a lot to handle. 

We want to be the caring team that carries you through this tough time and makes the process as simple as possible. 

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