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Estate Administration Attorneys in St. Simons Island

Georgia firm guides clients through the probate process

The death of a loved one isn’t just an emotional blow, but might also be the start of an intricate legal process if you are assigned to settle their affairs. At Choate Harris P.C. in St. Simons Island, we offer comprehensive estate administration counsel to executors and others who are appointed by Georgia Probate Courts to serve as personal representative for a decedent’s estate.

Estate administration tasks

Settling an estate involves several steps, and we are ready to assist you with each one, including:

  • Filing the will — If you are named as the executor in someone’s will, you should file the document with the Probate Court in the county where they lived as soon as possible. In the event that the designated executor is unavailable, we can petition the court to commence the probate process and appoint you as personal representative for the estate.
  • Bringing the decedent’s assets into the estate — Once the court officially names you to handle the estate, you receive letters of administration which give you the ability to communicate with creditors and transfer assets that had been owned by the decedent into the estate.
  • Creating an inventory — It is essential to keep detailed records of assets brought into the estate and disbursements that are made while probate is pending.
  • Managing tax and accounting issues — The personal representative is responsible for directing estate funds to paying taxes and debts that the decedent owed.
  • Communicating with the probate court — Probate Courts typically require the inventory to be filed within six months of when the personal representative is appointed. You will receive instructions on other documents that must also be submitted.
  • Distributing assets to heirs — When all property is marshaled in to the estate and all obligations are paid off, the personal representative oversees distribution of remaining assets to heirs named in the will or entitled under the state’s intestacy laws.

Even if you are unfamiliar with probate and other aspects of estate administration, our firm’s extensive experience handling matters involving wills and trusts will help you fulfill your duties successfully.

Intestacy provisions when no valid will exists

Though most people know the importance of creating a valid will, many Georgians die without completing a testamentary document. This can create confusion for surviving family members, particularly loved ones who take responsibility for administering the estate under Georgia’s intestacy laws. These provisions determine who inherits property in the absence of a will by creating a priority system based on familial relationships with the decedent. For example, when the person who dies intestate is married and has one child, the property is divided equally between the spouse and the son or daughter. If you are petitioning the Probate Court for letters of administration after someone close to you has died without a will, we can prepare the necessary documents and explain who is entitled to an inheritance.

Disputed wills

With the guidance of knowledgeable counsel, most probate matters can be completed without significant problems. However, there are situations where disputes arise over the validity or execution of a will. An actual or potential heir might allege that the document does not reflect the true intentions of the testator. Claims involving accusations of fraud, undue influence, mistake or lack of capacity can quickly become heated and expensive. Our firm gives personal representatives clear-eyed counsel regarding will contests and works diligently to resolve these disagreements efficiently and successfully. We also take on cases where a disagreement exists regarding the personal representative’s performance of their fiduciary duties.

Contact a Georgia estate administration lawyer for a consultation

Choate Harris P.C. in St. Simons Island advises clients from Glynn County and other locations on the Georgia probate process and other estate administration matters. Please call us at 912.324.5216 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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