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
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How Long Do You Have To Open An Estate

“How long do I have to open an estate after a loved one passes away?”

We get asked this a lot at our office. This question can take different forms:

  • “How long do I have to file the will for probate?”
  • “How long do I have to get someone appointed to manage the estate?”
  • “How long do I have to go to the probate court?”

So what’s the answer? How long do you have to open an estate after a loved one passes away?

The question itself is deceptive.

There is no timeframe under Georgia law that says you must open an estate by a set number of days, weeks or months after someone passes away.

From a practical standpoint, you’re going to want to open the estate relatively soon.

The typical timeframe for most people to open an estate is about two weeks to as long as six months. Any longer than that is still fine legally, but is uncommon and can cause practical problems.

how long can you keep an estate open after death

Things You Can’t Do Until You Open An Estate

By not opening an estate quickly after a loved one passes, what are some things you would miss out on?

Real estate. There’s no ability to transfer real estate that a deceased person owns without opening an estate.

Funds in an account. If there are funds in a bank account or an investment account, and those funds are not a beneficiary designated account, then there is no way to gain access to those funds.

Any other titled assets or transactions that need to occur. If there were any other titled assets or any other transactions that needed to occur, those transactions could not occur either.

An example of this is if a family needs to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. In order to pursue that lawsuit, the estate would have to be open because the estate would have to be a party to that.

Take This Important Step If You Have The Will

While there’s no time limit to open an estate, if you’re in possession of an original will, there is a legal obligation for you to turn over the will to the appropriate probate court.

You need to take that will into the court and hand it over to the clerk of the court. I’d recommend that you take that action within the first two months after your loved one passes.

If you have any other questions or would like to talk about your own situation, please give our office a call at (770) 920-6030.


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.

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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.

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