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Cobb County probate lawyers have a pretty complex job to do, and it can be even more difficult because of the fact that many people don’t really even know what the probate process is. This isn’t all that surprising, as by the time a person needs probate, it’s because he or she has passed away. That means that someone else needs to be in charge.
Probate is the court process that happens when a deceased person’s estate is administered. There are a lot of steps to the process, which is just one of the reasons that those left behind find it so helpful to work with an experienced probate lawyer in Cobb County. He or she can help to make sure that these steps are being followed in accordance with the law and to their client’s best advantage.
Different states generally have different probate laws, which is one of the reasons it’s so important for Georgia residents to work with an attorney from our state. If the decedent held property in other states, it’s quite likely that an additional probate lawyer from that area will need to be consulted, as well.
A lot of people would prefer to avoid probate altogether, and they may have worked with an estate planning lawyer to try and make this happen. Why would they go to that trouble?
- It can take a very long time for an estate to make it all the way through the probate process.
- Everything revealed in probate becomes public knowledge.
- Probate costs can eat away at the value of an estate.
A good Cobb County probate lawyer will do his or her best to expedite the process, minimize discomfort, and protect assets as much as possible. Perhaps one of his or her most important jobs is simply to talk individuals through this unfamiliar landscape and to help set reasonable expectations for those who haven’t dealt with the process before.
During probate, the courts will name a representative for the decedent and will then charge that person with compiling an inventory of assets. The probate lawyer will be very helpful in figuring out how to do this. Based on current law, the courts will determine how assets are to be distributed, including to pay off debts. If there is a will, this will be taken into consideration. Many folks don’t realized that even if they have a will, the estate will still go through probate.
There are other alternatives in estate planning, however, that can keep an estate out of the process. For those who need it, though, an experienced Cobb County probate lawyer can make a huge difference in the outcome.
Probate lawyers in Marietta GA work with their clients to put together plans that clearly explain what the client wants. At least, that’s the hope. When it comes to the administration of a will, however, there are several instances where a will is contested, often by an adult child of the decedent.
One of the biggest problems that leads to a will being contested has to do with communication within the family. This can relate to parents not communicating their wishes to their children and relying on a will to do it for them, or to siblings not communicating with one another during the will administration so that everyone has a different perspective on what is going on.
There are several reasons a will can be contested, and there are also ways that our Cobb County Georgia probate lawyers help families and individuals proactively avoid the expense and drama.
Unequal Distribution Among Beneficiaries
When one sibling receives less than another (either in reality or in perception), it can trigger a desire to contest the will. Really, though, there are plenty of good reasons for an unequal distribution. Perhaps one child acted as the parent’s caretaker, and a bigger portion of the estate is being left to him or her as compensation. Sometimes a business is left to one or more siblings, with a larger portion of the personal estate left to another. It’s almost impossible to make these things “even,” and some siblings may choose to squabble about it.
In many cases, these issues can be avoided or mitigated by making sure to explain in the will the reason for decisions that are being made. That way, not only is there an explanation that can help stop a will from being contested, there is also recourse for the courts to rule in favor of the original intentions.
A commonly-cited reason for stopping the will administration process by contesting the will is “diminished capacity.” In these cases, someone with a stake in the outcome of the will tells the courts that he or she believes that the deceased wasn’t capable of making good decisions due to some sort of mental impairment. Even if you are perfectly reasonable and sound at the time that you make changes to your will, that doesn’t mean that someone can’t come back after your death and suggest that you weren’t.
In order to help discourage this from happening during the Cobb County probate court process, it may be helpful to put your reasons for changes directly into the will. Again, this comes back to communication. If you communicate why you are making changes by writing it into the will, you can help avoid some major issues. Additionally, you may even wish to have your doctor evaluate you at the time to ensure that you are not suffering from diminished capacity.
Disinheritance of one beneficiary can certainly trigger a lawsuit against the estate. While you may have perfectly good reasons for the disinheritance, that doesn’t mean that the disinherited person will agree. Sometimes just contesting the will on these grounds is enough to get the other heirs to provide a financial settlement in order to avoid a drawn-out and expensive court process.
As mentioned above, communication is key. Describe in the will why you have made the decisions you have regarding disinheriting someone. Cover your bases when it comes to diminished capacity by speaking with your doctor. You may also want to discuss your decision with a third party (perhaps your attorney) who will be able to bring that understanding to the situation when it comes time for the actual will administration.