Probate (more properly called estate administration) has to do with the legal process that takes place after a loved one passes away. The law covers a broad range of processes including:
- Who will manage the estate;
- Identifying what assets and debts the deceased left behind, and determining which ones belong in the probate process and which do not;
- How the value of the estate’s assets, debts and taxes should be calculated;
The process of distributing the estate’s property to creditors, heirs and beneficiaries based on the instructions that the deceased left in his or her will, if there is one, based on Georgia law.
If your loved one left a will, an executor will administer the estate. If he or she died intestate (without a will), the probate court will appoint an administrator to represent the estate.
Beneficiaries are people and institutions named in the will to receive property. If your loved one did not have a will, the property and assets will be given to heirs — people who, under Georgia law, are eligible to inherit the estate.
Basic Overview of the Process
Probate cases can vary widely depending on factors such as the size and diversity of the estate; the number of creditors, heirs and beneficiaries; and the existence of disputes. Every estate, however large or small, will go through the same 3 basic phases:
The goal in this phase is to get someone appointed by the court to represent and manage the estate as an administrator or executor.
During this phase, the majority of the work of managing the estate is done.
The goal of this phase is to close the estate and ensure that the executor or administrator is protected from liability for things that happened while the estate was being administered.