Administrator of Estate in Georgia


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What Is an Administrator of Estate?

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Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on October 12, 2023.

An administrator of estate is appointed by the probate court to manage the deceased person’s state. If the decedent left a will, the estate will be administered by the will executor they named. However, in the absence of a will, the probate court will appoint an administrator from the decedent’s next of kin, usually the surviving spouse or child.

The administrator’s duties are numerous and can take years to complete. Estate administrators are primarily responsible for initiating the probate process, creating an inventory of the deceased person’s assets and property, locating beneficiaries, distributing the assets to heirs and beneficiaries, and settling outstanding debts or taxes.

However, estate administrators don’t have to handle the process alone. If you were named or appointed as an administrator of estate, you can hire professionals to assist in carrying out your duties. Attorneys at Perigon Legal Services guide estate administrators through the Georgia probate process and provide much-needed legal support. We can help you ensure the proper and timely execution of your duties and responsibilities.

Process of Estate Administration in Georgia

The estate administration process in Georgia involves several steps. Here is a step-by-step breakdown:

  1. Opening the Estate: The probate proceeding typically begins with filing a petition in a Georgia Probate Court of the county where the deceased person lived. The court appoints an executor (if named in the will) or administrator (if there is no will) to manage the estate. The court issues letters of administration that officially appoint the personal representative of the estate and establish their legal authority. If an executor was named in the will, the court issues letters testamentary.
  2. Identifying Assets and Liabilities: The estate administrator gathers information about the estate’s assets, including bank accounts, brokerage accounts, real estate, investments, and personal property.
  3. Notifying Creditors: The administrator of estate must provide notice to known creditors, allowing them a specified time to file claims against the estate. Under Georgia estate law, the personal representative must publish notice to creditors within two months of their appointment.
  4. Valuing Assets: The estate administrator is responsible for determining the value of the decedent’s assets. This includes conducting appraisals, obtaining valuations for real estate, investments, and personal property, and ensuring an accurate inventory of all assets.
  5. Filing Taxes: The estate administrator files the decedent’s final federal and state income tax returns. While Georgia doesn’t have an estate tax, federal estate taxes may apply, and returns must be filed.
  6. Paying Debts and Expenses: The estate administrator pays off debts, taxes, and administrative expenses from estate funds. If any professionals are hired to assist in the administration process, they are also paid from the estate.
  7. Distributing Assets: After settling debts and expenses, the remaining estate assets are distributed to the beneficiaries according to the decedent’s will or Georgia’s intestacy laws if there is no will.
  8. Final Accounting and Closing: The administrator compiles a comprehensive final accounting report detailing all financial transactions, expenses, debt repayments, and asset valuations throughout the estate administration process. The beneficiaries are provided with this report for review, and it is subsequently submitted to the Probate Court for approval. Upon court approval, assets are transferred accordingly, and the administrator may be formally discharged from their responsibilities.

For experienced assistance with the estate administration process in Georgia, reach out to Perigon Legal Services.

Responsibilities of an Estate Administrator

Estate administrators are tasked with almost every aspect of managing and protecting the estate. As the personal representative of the decedent’s estate, you must:

  1. Locate and safeguard assets
  2. Create an inventory of the estate’s assets
  3. Notify creditors and pay debts
  4. Manage and preserve assets
  5. Open an estate account to hold all estate funds
  6. Obtain an IRS tax identification number
  7. Prepare and file tax returns
  8. Distribute estate assets to beneficiaries
  9. Maintain accurate records
  10. Attend court hearings and proceedings
  11. Communicate with beneficiaries
  12. Resolve disputes
  13. Close the estate

Who Can Be an Administrator of Estate in Georgia?

Any family member of the deceased person can act as the estate administrator. If the decedent has a sole heir, the latter often serves as the administrator of estate. However, according to Georgia law § 53-6-20, if there is more than one heir, they all must agree unanimously on the administrator.

The person filing the petition to be appointed by the probate court as an administrator must have the signatures of all heirs. If an heir disagrees with the chosen administrator and doesn’t sign, they must file an objection with the court within the set deadline.

If the heirs can’t make a unanimous decision on the administrator, the probate court will choose and appoint an administrator in the following order:

  1. The surviving spouse
  2. The heir with the majority of signatures
  3. Any other eligible family member
  4. A creditor of the estate
  5. The county administrator

The court will make a decision based solely on what is in the estate’s best interests.

Perigon Legal Services Can Help

If you’re an estate administrator, you may need legal guidance to navigate the complexities of probate proceedings and fulfill your responsibilities. Perigon Legal Services is here to assist you at every step.

Our dedicated team has extensive knowledge of estate & business administration, so we can provide the needed legal guidance and support to accomplish your duties smoothly and promptly. Mistakes in filing, paperwork, or court proceedings can complicate and extend the process needlessly. Our professional legal support will ensure you are on the right track.

Your peace of mind and the efficient management of the deceased person’s estate are just a call away. Contact Perigon Legal Services now for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference Between an Executor and an Administrator?

An executor is the person named by the deceased in their will to oversee their estate matters. An administrator of estate is appointed by the Georgia Probate Court in specific situations, such as when the deceased did not leave a will, the will cannot be located, the named executor declines the role, or the executor cannot fulfill their duties.

Can an Administrator Be Removed?

Yes, an administrator can be removed from their position under certain circumstances, such as misconduct or failure to settle an estate in Georgia, as determined by the court.

Do Estate Administrators Get Paid?

Estate administrators may be entitled to compensation for their services as determined by Georgia probate law or the terms of the will.

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