Answers to Common Questions and Situations

We know how complex and confusing probate situations can be, and did our best to organize an easy to follow knowledge base to help address some of your most pressing questions. Get in Touch
with our team if you still have questions or can’t find what you’re looking for.

What happens if you attempt to transfer assets without an executor?

When someone passes away there are typically assets that need to be preserved and eventually transferred (including real estate). In order to officially act on behalf of an estate to transfer assets a person needs to be appointed by the appropriate probate court as either the executor (if there is a will) or as the administrator (if there is no will). The key document that provides power to act for the estate is called letters testamentary or letters of administration (depending on whether there is a will or not). Before receiving this document, no one has power to act for the estate. We refer to executors and administrators collectively as a personal representative.

executor de son tort

The appointed personal representative is the person in charge of gathering the estate assets and preserving them in a manner that would best benefit the estate.

If someone is acting like a Personal Representative before being appointed by the court, then they could be liable for any harm caused to the estate under the legal doctrine of executor de son tort. An executor de son tort is a person who wrongfully inter-meddles with or converts property (assets) of an estate. If this conversion is done in bad faith the executor de son tort can be held liable to the heirs or beneficiaries of an estate for double the value of the property.

This is why it is so important to be properly appointed by a Court before transferring any estate asset. Also, the only way to properly transfer title (deed) of real property in through the probate process, unless the property was titled as join tenants with rights of survivorship. It is also important to note that when opening an estate and transferring assets the Executor will have to deal with settling all the debts of the deceased, and those debts must be handled before any distributions to family members can be made (even if there is a will).

Things can get complicated quickly when someone is acting like a Personal Representative without going through the proper process in the probate court. We’ve seen too many times how things can be irreparably harmed when quick action is not taken.

If you’re in a situation like this, reach out to our office for a consultation to see what your options are.

Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our probate attorneys 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.

Schedule A Consultation Today

Compassionate listeners, knowledgeable guidance. Schedule a free consultation with our team and let us help you and your family with your legal concerns.

GET IN TOUCH 770-796-4685

Download the Georgia Probate Handbook.

Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.

First Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


About the author

Erik J. Broel
Founder & CEO

Erik founded the firm in 2009. He sees it as his personal mission to demystify the process of handling an estate or trust, and to help people by making the complex estate process simple and accessible. He believes there is always a better way to do things, and loves finding new and innovative ways to deliver better, more effective service that solves the client’s key problem or issue, and improves the client’s life.

More about Erik
logos-image logos-image logos-image

© 2024 Georgia Probate Law Group by Broel Law, LLC. All rights reserved.