Probate Litigation in Georgia

 

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How a Georgia Probate Litigation Attorney Can Help You

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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 January 04, 2024.

Understanding Georgia probate law is crucial, especially if you’re a beneficiary or a designated personal representative. Probate can lead to litigation, which can then cause emotional and financial distress to the heirs and beneficiaries of the decedent. Probate litigation in Georgia can be lengthy and complex, especially if family members or interested parties contest certain decisions.

This piece answers your questions about probate litigation and how to avoid future disputes. Do you have more specific questions about estate litigation and probate in Georgia? A skilled probate lawyer in Atlanta at Perigon Legal Services can provide personalized guidance and help you avoid mistakes, disputes, and unnecessary costs.

Understanding Probate Litigation in Georgia

What Is Probate Litigation?

Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of the person who has passed. Generally, it involves the following:

  • Identification of the decedent’s assets
  • Payment of taxes and debts
  • Distribution of the remaining assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.

Probate litigation happens when an interested party files a lawsuit in probate court against a beneficiary, executor, or another third party. Typically, the lawsuit pertains to legal issues during the process of probate, especially regarding the administration of the individual’s estate. In such circumstances, hiring a probate litigation attorney can make a difference in settling legal disputes early on.

The Probate Process in Georgia

Probate is not mandatory in Georgia. However, if there is a will, it has to be presented to the appropriate probate court. During the process, the judge will determine the validity of the decedent’s will.

Typically, the process involves the following steps:

  1. Presentation of the will before the probate court (if there is a will): When a person dies, family members should locate the deceased person’s will. Even if you do not intend to go through the probate process, if there’s a will, it has to be presented before the probate court.
  2. Filing a petition: Usually, it is the executor of the will or the family members who file the petition to initiate probate.
  3. Payment of fees: The interested party must pay the necessary court fees.
  4. Appointment of a personal representative: The probate court appoints the executor as a personal representative to manage the deceased’s estate. If there’s no will, an interested family member usually applies to be appointed as the administrator.
  5. Collection and administration of the estate: The personal representative begins gathering the deceased person’s assets, such as bank accounts and real estate, and pays the outstanding creditors. To ensure all the creditors are paid, the personal representative must publish a notice to the creditors in the local newspaper.
  6. Distribution and discharge: After the outstanding debts are paid, the personal representative distributes the remaining assets to the heirs and beneficiaries before closing the estate. The representative should make sure that the assets are distributed to the rightful heirs as indicated in the will. The representative must then submit a final report to the court to close the estate.
  7. Closing of the estate: Once the probate court accepts the report from the personal representative, the estate will be closed. The personal representative is relieved of any future liability pertaining to the estate.

Common Disputes in Probate Litigation

Some usual reasons for probate litigation and disputes during estate administration include the following:

  • Contesting the validity of a will
  • Disputing a trust
  • Dispute over administrator appointments (if there is no will)
  • Guardianship and conservatorship disputes
  • Removing an executor
  • Breach of fiduciary duty claims
  • Executor fee disputes

A Georgia probate litigation attorney can be an invaluable resource when legal disputes happen at any of the stages of estate administration.

Legal Challenges and Solutions

Disputes and will contests can complicate the probate process. In will contests, for instance, interested parties can challenge the will’s validity. They may raise issues as to its authenticity or allege undue influence or fraud in its execution. A family member who feels left out may also argue that the person who made the will (also called the testator) was not in a proper mental state when the will was made.

A probate litigation lawyer plays a pivotal role in safeguarding your interests as an heir or potential beneficiary. A litigation attorney has a deep understanding of the laws and procedures relating to estate administration. They possess the required knowledge and experience to guide you through the legal process.

Preparing for Probate Litigation

Your probate litigation attorney can help you prepare your lawsuit and learn your options and potential outcomes. An experienced can help you resolve any disputes without going to trial, mainly through negotiations with the involved parties for the most favorable solution. To avoid costly mistakes, make sure that you contact a skilled and experienced estate planning lawyer.

When you go into probate litigation, you must gather documents and evidence to prove your case. It is important that you know which documents and pieces of evidence are relevant to your case to save time, effort, and money.

During this time, make sure to work closely with your lawyer. An attorney knowledgeable in probate laws is the ideal person to determine the course of action.

How Perigon Legal Services Can Help

The attorneys at Perigon Legal Services handle matters involving Georgia probate law, estate disputes, and other legal issues regarding estate administration. We customize our legal strategies depending on what our clients require and need. While the probate process looks pretty straightforward, it is very common for problems to arise during the initial stages of probate.

Over the years, our probate litigation attorneys have effectively handled and defended the cause of our clients, resulting in successful settlements of estates.

Contact Perigon Legal Services for Your Probate Litigation Needs

Do you want to know more about Georgia probate laws? Are you preparing for probate litigation? Our law firm focuses on estate planning for families and individuals in Georgia, and we are ready to help you.

The probate process is a complicated proceeding that requires legal assistance from those who know the law. Trusted estate attorneys from our law office can help you navigate and address the complexities of these proceedings. Rest assured that our attorneys will provide you with the highest quality and client-tailored legal assistance and representation.

Contact our law firm today for a free consultation.

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