Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
Do I have a right to see a family member’s will after he or she has passed away?
In Georgia, once someone has passed away and they have property titled in their name (real estate, bank accounts, vehicles, etc.) it is usually necessary to open an estate to properly transfer those funds to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. Sometimes there is the situation where there are no assets to be transferred. In this situation, a full estate would probably not be required to be opened. But if the deceased had a will the person in possession of the will should file it with the probate court in the county the deceased lived in. Even if there is nothing in the estate to be transferred the will should still be filed, and the court can require that a person file the will with the probate court.
If you are in a situation where a family member is refusing to file a will there are options available to force the person in possession of the will to file it with the court. The most common way this is accomplished is through a motion to compel the production of a will. This is a filing that a probate attorney can draft for you. Once drafted the motion will be filed with the court and it allows the court to be alerted to the situation. The judge then has the authority to demand from the person in possession of the will that the will be produced and filed with the court. Once this is accomplished the will becomes public record and can be accessible to anyone who desires to see it. Once the will is filed and after reviewing it there is usually the opportunity to move forward with opening a full probate estate, if necessary.
If it turns out there is actually no will, and there is no one in possession of a copy of the will you can determine the need to move forward with opening an intestate estate (estate that is administered with no last will and testament). But as I mentioned before if there are no assets to be transferred then opening an intestate estate might not be needed.
As you can see there can be a few different ways this type of situation can turn out. Our office always recommends speaking with a qualified probate team to thoroughly discuss all your options. Often times when dealing with a loved one’s estate many new facts and changing of circumstances occurs and it is always a good idea to have a trusted advisor to guide you through the twists and turns of the probate process.
Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our probate lawyers provide legal advice to our clients after talking about the specific circumstances of the client’s situation. Our law firm cannot give you legal advice unless we understand your situation by talking with you. Please contact our law office to receive specific information about your situation.
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