It has been said: “There’s hell, and then there’s probate.”
If you are dealing with an estate that must go through the probate process in Cobb County, Georgia, your smartest move will likely be working with an experienced Marietta probate lawyer. There are cases where simple estates will move through fairly easily, but there is still a matter of paperwork, accounting, etc. to consider; and a probate lawyer can save you an incredible amount of time and hassle.
The best way to reduce the costs of the probate process in Georgia is making sure your estate planning has been done in advance. This means you’ve set up wills, trusts, and any other applicable legal documents so those you leave behind won’t have to deal with taking the entire estate through the court system. Trusts, such as a revocable living trust, are one of the most common tools for avoiding probate, but there are some other possible options.
Some people think that having a will means your estate will bypass the process. Any reputable probate lawyer in Marietta will tell you, however, this isn’t the case. Having a will is still important, as it provides important directions for the dissemination of your estate, but it doesn’t get your heirs off the hook when it comes to probate.
If the estate is truly a “small” one, then you may be able to avoid probate. This can happen where there the only thing left behind is personal property. In these situations, there is no real estate to be inherited. The laws regarding the allowable value of an estate to be considered in this group can change, so it might be helpful to at least chat with a Marietta probate lawyer to see if the estate qualifies. If so, the heir may create an affidavit that will work instead of going through probate. There may also be some simplified court procedures available to heirs of these small estates.
Some states allow for real estate to be transferred after death without going through probate. This kind of deed must be created in advance and will specify it doesn’t take effect until the owner of the property has died. These deeds are NOT recognized in Georgia, so do not be taken in by any online service that offers to handle it for you. Deeds can be prepared, though, that leave a remainder interest in real estate. This should not be attempted without advice of an experienced Marietta wills and trusts attorney, however, because these deeds cancan create problems for the original owner if he or she later needs to apply for Medicaid assistance. No real estate can be transferred via a simple “gentleman’s agreement” and a deed requires legal preparation, signatures, and notarization before being filed with the appropriate county clerk.
These are just two tools available to those who want to avoid the eventual need for a probate lawyer. If they have not been put into place, or you’re not sure if these rules apply to you, speak with a qualified attorney in advance.
If you need to review your own plan or if you’ve lost a loved one and need help dealing with winding up their affairs, please call our office today at (770) 425-6060 to set up a Georgia Estate Review Session with our experienced estate lawyers. Do not go through this alone. The GeorgiaFamilyLaw team is here to help you and your family.