For over forty years, we have been a part of Savannah’s community, offering our legal expertise to those struggling with the complexities of probate law. Our commitment goes beyond mere legal advice; we understand the emotional weight that often accompanies probate cases and strive to offer support that is both empathetic and effective.
Savannah Probate Lawyers – Four Decades Serving in Georgia
We recognize that each probate case is as unique as the story behind it, and we approach each situation with the care and attention it deserves. Whether it’s resolving disputes, managing estate administration, or ensuring that your loved one’s wishes are honored, our team is here to provide the expertise and support you need.
Our approach is not just about legalities; it’s about preserving relationships and ensuring a smooth transition of responsibilities and assets. We stand by you at every step, offering clarity and peace of mind in a time that can often be clouded by grief and uncertainty.
How We Help
At the core of our services is a commitment to providing comprehensive legal assistance tailored to your needs. Here’s how we can assist you:
- Estate administration: Guiding executors and beneficiaries through the entire estate administration process, ensuring legal compliance and efficient asset distribution.
- Will contests and disputes: Offering skilled representation in will contests, addressing disputes over validity, interpretation, or execution of wills.
- Trust administration: Assisting trustees in managing and distributing trust assets in accordance with the trust’s terms and applicable laws.
- Guardianship and conservatorship: Helping clients establish guardianship or conservatorship arrangements for minors or incapacitated adults.
- Asset distribution: Ensuring that assets are distributed according to the deceased’s wishes, while navigating the complexities of estate and tax laws.
- Probate litigation: Representing clients in probate litigation matters, including disputes over estate or trust administration.
Our team of Savannah lawyers is dedicated to delivering legal services that are not only effective but also empathetic. We understand the importance of honoring your loved one’s legacy and are committed to helping you through every step of the probate process.
Do Wills Have to Be Probated?
Generally, in Georgia, probate is necessary to legally transfer ownership of the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries, especially when it comes to real estate or significant financial assets.
Probate serves as a legal process to validate the will, settle any outstanding debts, and distribute the assets as per the deceased’s wishes. However, there are instances where certain assets can skip the probate process. These include assets with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts, and assets held in joint tenancy or with rights of survivorship.
How to Probate Estate in Georgia
Probating an estate in Georgia involves a series of steps that must be meticulously followed to ensure legal compliance and the proper execution of the deceased’s wishes. Here is a general outline of the process you should expect:
- Filing the will and petition: The process begins with filing the deceased’s will, along with a petition for probate, in the probate court of the county where the deceased lived. This step initiates the formal probate proceedings.
- Notice to heirs and beneficiaries: As per Georgia Code § 53-5-2, all heirs and beneficiaries named in the will must be notified of the probate proceedings. This notice must be served personally at least 30 days before probate if the party resides in Georgia and is known, unless the notice is waived.
- Appointment of executor or administrator: The court will appoint an executor (as named in the will) or an administrator (if no executor is named or there is no will) to oversee the estate’s administration.
- Inventory and appraisal of assets: The executor or administrator is responsible for compiling a detailed inventory of the estate’s assets and, if necessary, having them appraised to determine their value.
- Paying debts and taxes: Before assets can be distributed, the executor must ensure that all of the deceased’s debts and any taxes owed are paid from the estate.
- Distribution of assets: After debts and taxes are settled, the remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries as outlined in the will.
- Closing the estate: Finally, the executor files a petition with the probate court to close the estate, signifying that all duties have been completed.
However, this process can vary in complexity based on the size of the estate, the clarity of the will, and the presence of any disputes among beneficiaries. In some cases, the probate process can be straightforward and relatively quick, while in others, it may become a lengthy and complicated affair.
Contact Our Probate Attorneys at Savannah’s Office
We understand the emotional and legal complexities involved in probate cases and are committed to handling your case with the utmost sensitivity and professionalism.
Whether you’re facing challenges with will contests, estate planning, or simply need advice on the probate process, our attorneys are equipped with the knowledge and experience to assist you. We invite you to contact us for a consultation, where we can discuss your specific needs and outline the best course of action for your situation.
FAQs Related to Probate Cases in Savannah
Can an estate be settled without probate in Georgia?
In Georgia, certain estates may be settled without the formal probate process, particularly if the deceased had a small estate or if assets were jointly owned or had designated beneficiaries. However, it’s important to consult with a probate attorney to understand the specific circumstances of your case and determine the appropriate legal steps.
How long does probate take?
The duration of the probate process can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the estate, the clarity of the will, and whether there are any disputes among beneficiaries. In Georgia, a straightforward probate case can take several months, while more complex cases may take a year or longer.
What assets are exempt from probate?
In Georgia, certain assets are typically exempt from the probate process. These include assets held in joint tenancy or with rights of survivorship, life insurance policies and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries, and assets held in a living trust.
2 East Bryan Street, Suite 602 Savannah, Georgia 31401