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FAQs About the Georgia Probate Process

E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC July 26, 2023

If you haven’t yet written a will of your own or if you’ve never been involved in executing someone else’s will, you likely won’t be too familiar with the probate process. Although going through probate in Georgia isn’t overly complicated, it can be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor. It’s also one that you’ll want to ensure you get right to avoid any potential problems, such as overpaying on debts or heirs challenging a will.  

To learn more about probate and how it could affect you, turn to E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC for trusted legal guidance. Attorney Banks-Ware works out of Lithonia, Georgia, where she’s able to represent clients throughout the area, including Decatur, Conyers, Covington, McDonough, and Lawrenceville.  

If a decedent left a will, does the estate still need to go through probate? 

Many wills are required to go through the legal process of probate, with a few exceptions. For example, probate won’t be necessary if the deceased didn’t have any assets under their name, if the only assets they had were placed in a trust, or if there’s already a named beneficiary attached to an asset (as is common with pensions, retirement accounts, or insurance policies). 

What happens if the decedent dies without a will? 

One very common question that comes up regarding probate is, “What happens if someone dies without a will?” This is referred to as dying “intestate,” and this typically means a judge will assign someone to act as the administrator (usually a close family member). This person is then responsible for bringing the deceased’s estate through probate. 

What is the role of the personal representative in the probate process? 

The personal representative (also called the executor or administrator) is responsible for seeing that the deceased’s estate goes through the proper channels of probate. This includes filing an official petition with the courts to start the probate process, notifying all beneficiaries and creditors, locating and inventorying all assets, paying off any remaining debts or back taxes, then distributing the remaining assets to heirs. 

What if the estate is small? Does it still need to go through probate? 

Probate for small estates can often follow a more simplified process called “summary probate.” The estate will qualify for this streamlined process if the deceased left no will and they have less than $10,000 in their bank accounts. You may still wish to work with a probate attorney during this time, but you can expect a much less expensive and quicker process overall. 

On what grounds can someone challenge the validity of a will?

Sometimes, a named beneficiary or heir who believes they should be a beneficiary can challenge the will. However, they must have sufficient grounds to claim the will is invalid. This could include claiming it was written when the testator wasn’t of sound mind, that they were unduly influenced by a third party, or that the will itself or the witness signatures were forged.  

How can a probate attorney assist with the process? 

An experienced attorney can often help you save time and money during the probate process as well as act as a trusted advisor. Among other roles, a lawyer can help resolve disputes between family members, prevent claims against the estate, answer any questions that come up along the way, address taxes and debts and avoid overpayments, and avoid delays.  

Answering Your Questions & Supporting You in This Time

If you live in or around the Lithonia, Georgia, area and are looking for a professional yet personable attorney to help you or your family through the probate process, reach out to E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC to schedule a consultation.