Sometimes when a loved one has passed away, it is difficult for the family to start the process to properly handle the deceased’s final affairs. Some families will put off the probate of a loved one’s estate for many years and for many different reasons. So the question arises, is it ever too late to open a probate estate?
The answer to this question is usually no. If a person has passed away owning property, their estate will need to be opened at some point to properly transfer the property to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. With that being said, there can be complications and a loss of rights if an estate is not opened in a timely manner. For instance, if you are a surviving spouse or a minor child of the deceased there are certain rights you have that entitle you to a larger portion of the estate. This right is exerted through a petition for year’s support. This particular petition can only be filed within two years of the deceased’s passing. So once that time has passed, the estate will be distributed according to the will or Georgia intestate laws.
Another issue with waiting too long to probate an estate is the trail may run cold. What I mean by this is that typically right after a person has passed away they leave a paper trail to their assets and debts. Being able to have easy access to the deceased’s financial information is crucial to correctly administering an estate. So it usually works best when there are plenty of current statements and documents available to review. Often times if several years pass before opening an estate papers will get lost, things are misplaced and it becomes a difficult task to piece all the information together. Also, valuable assets could be lost if there is a delay in dealing with them. The chances of identifying all the assets of a deceased are much higher if the issue is address sooner rather than later.
Sometimes people delay because they think there is a will, but they cannot find it. If you are in that situation, take a look at this article. Depending on how long it has been since the deceased passed, it may be appropriate to consider one of the other ways of opening the estate if the will cannot be located.
As you see there are benefits to administering an estate in a timely manner, but there is no limitation of time for when you have to probate an estate. If you are concerned about a loved one’s final affairs, please reach out to our team for a complimentary consultation.
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.