Last month we talked about Probate. What it is, why it’s necessary, and how we can plan for it. This month, we’ll look at the process that is Probate.
When a loved one passes, they leave behind their legacy. If they planned ahead, they left that legacy in the hands of a trusted person. This person is their Executor of the estate.
The Executor is the person appointed to carry out the wishes of the deceased per their will. The Executor of an estate is required to see the Probate process through and abide by state and federal laws.
So, where do we begin?
The Will: The Will should be filed with Probate Court. Typically, the court in the county where the deceased lived.
If you have been named executor of the Will, you must be approved by Probate Court.
Appointment: You may be named as Executor, but you still need to be approved. You must file a petition to be appointed by the court before taking action on behalf of the estate.
Before being appointed, Probate Court may ask you to post bond and file yearly inventor & returns.
Posting bond is similar to taking out insurance. The bond ensures that if the Executor mishandles the estates assets, beneficiaries can make claims against the bond and be compensated.
The inventory and returns, are a yearly statement that must be filed with Probate Court. They must be balanced to the penny!
Once you are appointed, the work begins!
Notice to Debtors & Creditors: After being appointed as Executor, you must publish a notice to Debtors & Creditors once a week, for one month. In Georgia, you must allow 3 months for any Debtors & Creditors to come forward to make a claim.
Paying Debts: The estate must pay debts at a particular time and in a particular order. If the debts are paid incorrectly, the Executor could find themselves held liable for those debts. During this time, the Executor can pay themselves back for certain expenses incurred while acting a Executor. These expenses could include attorney fees.
Distribution of the Estate: After the debts are paid, the Executor can begin distributing the remainder of the estate to those named in the Will. If the Executor does not follow the directions outlined in the Will, they may face a summons by the Court.
Once the debts have been paid and the remainder of the estate has been distributed to the beneficiaries, it’s time to close out the estate.
Closing The Estate: After the debts are paid and remainder of the estate is distributed, the Executor may ask the courts to be discharged. If all is done accordingly, the Executor can walk away without fear of any further liability.
Probating an estate can be a long and expensive process. As Probate Attorney, I understand the intricacies of the system and help guide my clients through the process, making it less daunting. – SLS
To learn more about Probate click here.
To read Forbes article about acting as an Executor click: Executor of an Estate: What do they do?