One question we get a lot in our office is, “What is probate of a will?”
We’re going to answer that question today.
My name is Erik Broel. I’m the founder and CEO of Georgia Probate Law Group and in our office, we work exclusively on helping families through the probate process, whether that’s an uncontested estate or it’s an estate that’s in dispute or in litigation.
So let’s get to our question. “If I have a will do I have to go through probate?”
The short answer is, “Yes, you do.”
That surprises a lot of people because they say, “Well then, what’s the point of a will?”
A will actually has three purposes.
1. The Will Identifies The Executor
The will identifies who is supposed to manage the estate through the estate process.
We call that person an executor.
Something to note here is that even though someone’s name is in the will as an executor doesn’t mean they’re actually the executor yet.
Part of the probate process is getting that person formally appointed by the court so that they can do the job and perform the role of the executor.
2. The Will Identifies The Beneficiaries
The second purpose of a will is to identify who is supposed to inherit the property through probate and so those folks are typically called beneficiaries.
If you didn’t have a will, then Georgia State law would determine who inherits the property by determining who the heirs are under the law.
But having a will allows the deceased to change what would have happened under state law to anything else they would like.
3. The Will Helps Handle Situations Involving Minor Children
The third purpose of a will is to handle situations involving minor children.
In a will, you can make a designation of a guardian in case both parents, both natural parents are deceased or pass away at the same time.
In addition, you can have a trust put in a will that can provide for those minor children or utilize the assets of the estate over time for those minor kids. You can set disbursement schedules and things like that.
Those are three major purposes of a will.
Something interesting to note as well, that if you’re in possession of an original will there’s a law in Georgia that says you are required by law to turn that will over to the clerk of the appropriate Probate Court.
It does not mean that you are required to file the will for probate but you are required to physically place the will into the hands of a clerk so the clerk puts it on file.
Because that allows anyone in the family to see the will if they want to and it also allows someone to file the will formally for probate to open the estate if they want to and perhaps you don’t want to, for example.
So that’s our answer to “What is probate of a will?”.
If you have any additional questions or want to ask about your own situation please give our office a call at (770) 920-6030.