What Does a Probate Lawyer in Georgia Do?

Usually, a person isn’t even aware of what a probate lawyer does until he or she is in need of one, after a family member has died and help is needed immediately. But it’s a great idea to hire a probate lawyer before you actually “need” his or her services so things can go as smoothly as possible when it comes to taking an estate through the probate process.

The probate lawyer’s job is to assist families as an estate passes through the court system so it can be distributed properly.  There are several steps that the court must go through to close an estate, and the attorney makes sure everything is started and followed through on, as these steps are being followed.

Some basics of probate include:
•    Validating the will
•    Creating an inventory of assets
•    Getting appropriate appraisals for assets
•    Creating a list of debts
•    Paying debts
•    Dispersing the remaining property according to the will

If there is no will, the estate is said to be “intestate,” and the court will have even more say in what becomes of the decedent’s property.

Not every estate needs a probate lawyer.  Some families have placed their assets into trusts that don’t go through the probate process.  Some wills are simple and easy to execute, such as where there are little to no debts and common property is left to a surviving spouse alone. In other cases, though, hiring a probate lawyer will simplify the process for everyone  involved and will most likely save the estate a fair amount of money.  That’s because the attorney can implement strategies to help lower the taxes that must be paid.

He or she can also become an objective outside party who can assist the executor of the will where family tensions run high.  Along those same lines, if someone with a legal or financial interest in the estate wants to contest the will, it makes sense to have a probate attorney working to make sure the decedent’s wishes are carried out to the best of the court’s ability. Finally, it can be a good idea to involve a probate lawyer where an individual has a terminal illness.  The attorney can help that person to get their affairs in order by drawing up a will and understanding first-hand what the person wants for the estate.

There are many tasks that the probate lawyer will perform for the estate such as:
•    Filing documents with the court
•    Creating lists of assets
•    Placing legal notices in newspapers
•    Contacting creditors
•    Making sure taxes are paid on the estate

A good probate lawyer will keep current on relevant laws as they change and will work to help the clients and heirs follow all of the right procedures while doing their best to protect their interests. If we can assist you and your family, please call us at 770-425-6060.


Divorce and Estate Planning in Cobb County, Georgia

Divorce and Estate Planning in Cobb County, Georgia

Marietta and Cobb County, Georgia, estate planning attorney and divorce lawyer Steve Worrall reminds us that when a divorce—also called a dissolution of marriage—is imminent, meeting with an estate planning attorney in Cobb County, GA, is probably not at the top of anyone’s list of things to do.  But, it very well should be.  Keep in mind that divorces can take a fairly long time (months or even years) to complete.  It makes sense to consider what would become of your assets, or even your physical self, if you should become incapacitated or die before the divorce has been finalized.

If you do not take steps to change your estate plan in light of an impending divorce, then your soon-to-be ex may still be entitled to everything that was agreed upon when it was originally drawn up (or as the courts deem appropriate if no estate plan is in place).  This means that if he or she has your medical power of attorney, all of your medical decisions will be in the hands of someone who may not have your best interests in mind.  Likewise, if you are incapacitated and your spouse has power over your finances, it’s possible that you will not be happy with the outcome.

Another concern comes up if you and your spouse are co-trustees on various trusts or other accounts.  Again, if you become incapacitated, the spouse could access and use all kinds of property that you would not want him or her to have access to.  This becomes a real worry when you realize that this person could actually buy or sell property or even take out loans without your consent.

And, if you have inherited or stand to inherit from your parents, another potential problem arises.  Should you pass away before the divorce is final, your inheritance may legally pass directly to the person you were in the process of trying to get out of your life.  Even if you have assets that would be passed directly to your minor children, without a proper estate plan in place, the courts will likely put your ex in charge of any money or other property that you leave them.

In order to protect your interests during a divorce, it makes good sense to talk with your estate planning attorney.  A qualified will attorney in Cobb County can offer advice on where you may be vulnerable.  You may need to work with him or her quickly in order to revoke the appropriate documents, and keep in mind that you might need to contact various institutions personally to ensure they are aware of the revocation.

An estate planning attorney who is familiar with the laws specific to Georgia is the best option for ensuring that you are protecting yourself both during and after a divorce in Georgia.