How to Avoid Probate in Georgia


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How Do You Avoid Probate in Georgia?

If you want to learn how to avoid probate in Georgia, Perigon Legal Services can be of service to you. Call us today for more information. 

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 August 22, 2023.

Going through the probate court process usually takes a lot of energy, time, and money. We understand why you’d like to avoid it. All families deserve to grieve the loss of their loved one in peace and away from courtrooms.

The right estate planning can help protect your family from the cumbersome probate process and protect their assets. Common estate planning instruments that make this possible include setting up trusts and joint ownership accounts.

Do you want to avoid probate in Georgia, but you aren’t sure where to start? Perigon Legal Services has your back! It’s never too early to set an estate plan, and our experienced and diligent estate planning attorneys can help.

What Can You Do to Avoid Probate in Georgia?

In probate proceedings, beneficiaries will not be able to access the deceased person’s assets for months or years until the estate is settled. Fortunately, Georgia probate law allows you to avoid probate in the following ways:

Living Trusts

Setting up a living trust is the most common way of avoiding probate. Living trusts, in their various types, allow you to distribute your assets according to your wishes without any intervention from the courts.

In a living trust, you appoint a trustee to manage your assets and name the beneficiaries. Depending on the trust type, the estate’s ownership may no longer be yours, even before your death. This is not as bad as it sounds. Relinquishing the ownership of your assets to the trust means fewer taxable assets and fewer taxes your beneficiaries have to pay.

However, not all assets can be put in a trust, including retirement accounts, retirement benefits, vehicles, health savings accounts, and cash.

An estate lawyer can help you choose the right trust for your needs and draft the trust document. This document contains important details of the transfer of ownership and other guidelines for the trustee.

In the case of your death, the trustee can transfer the trust assets to your beneficiaries without undergoing the probate court process.

Joint Ownership

Joint ownership, also called joint tenancy ownership, helps couples or business partners avoid probate through the right of survivorship. When two or more people own an asset, and one dies, the surviving owner automatically owns the asset and absorbs the late owner’s share. Assets that can be owned jointly include real estate and bank accounts.

In this case, the probate process is not necessary. However, the surviving owner needs to do some paperwork to transfer titles and deeds to themselves.

Payable-on-Death Accounts

If you own bank accounts in Georgia, you can name a beneficiary to automatically own them upon your death using the payable-on-death designation. It means that the beneficiary can formally request the money in the bank accounts without the need for probate.

A key thing to note is that your beneficiary cannot access the bank account while you’re alive, and you maintain full control.

Transfer-on-Death Registration for Securities

Brokerage accounts can also pass on to beneficiaries without the need for probate. You can simply register your securities as transfer-on-death and name the person you’d like to own them upon your death.

They don’t have to go through any probate to access funds in the account. However, they must re-register the securities in their names by sending a certificate of death and re-registration application with the brokerage company’s transfer agent.

Other types of transfer-on-death are not available in Georgia, such as transfer-on-death deeds for real estate property and transfer-on-death vehicle registration.

Can a Will Avoid Probate in Georgia?

A will does not avoid probate in Georgia, but it can make the process quicker and cheaper. The probate process serves to validate the will and ensure the proper distribution of the property owned by the decedent and the settling of debts. It also ensures that the estate has an executor.

A will that does not conform to Georgia probate laws may be void and prone to contentions, especially when beneficiaries or creditors disagree with it and file claims against the estate.


When Is Probate Necessary?


Probate is necessary when an estate owner dies leaving no will at all. In this scenario, the probate court will appoint an estate administrator and work with them to distribute the estate assets. Probate is also necessary even when there is a will to ensure its proper execution.

In cases where beneficiaries or creditors challenge the will or a trust, the probate court will also step in to resolve the disputes and oversee the legal process of administering the deceased person’s personal and real property.

How a Georgia Attorney Can Help You Avoid Probate

Estate planning may be complicated, but it’s definitely worth it. If you want to spare your family the trouble of the probate court process, our experienced and passionate probate lawyers will be happy to help you.

Attorneys at Perigon Legal Services have years of experience handling estate planning and probate cases. We can set up an estate plan that fulfills your wishes and keeps your family out of court.

We can help you in many ways, including:

  • Setting up an irrevocable or revocable living trust

  • Creating a joint ownership agreement

  • Acting as intermediaries between you and institutions granting payable-on-death and transfer-on-death designations and ensuring that you get fair deals

  • Acting as your executor or trustee to ensure the impartial distribution and management of your assets among your beneficiaries

Are you in Georgia looking to plan your estate and avoid probate court proceedings? Consider contacting our probate lawyer in Atlanta at Perigon Legal Services. We can make sure your wishes are respected and carried out without the involvement of probate courts.

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