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Does a Will Help You Avoid Probate? (Part 1)

Simple Answer is No. April 1, 2024

This week we will begin to explore the question of whether a will can help you avoid probate, which is a common point of confusion for many individuals. To shed light on this topic, let's first discuss the intricacies of wills and probate.

Understanding Probate and Its Purpose

Probate is a legal process that involves validating a deceased person's will, appointing an executor to oversee the distribution of assets, and the settling of any outstanding debts or taxes. The primary purpose of probate is to provide the deceased person’s heirs and creditors a platform to evaluate the will and to ensure the proper payment of estate claims. Once the will is validated and all estate claims are paid, the executor is authorized to carry out the deceased individual's wishes, as outlined in their will, in a lawful and orderly manner.

The Role of a Will in Probate

Contrary to popular belief, having a will (except for the situations we’ll discuss next week) will require the estate to go through probate. In fact, any person in the state of Georgia in possession of a deceased person’s will is required to file the will with the probate court in the county in which the deceased person resided. Also the original will must be submitted to probate court to undergo the validation process. Without probate, the executor nominated in the will, is not authorized to assume the responsibility of administering the estate according to the specified instructions of the will.

While a will is an essential component of estate planning, it requires the probate process to validate the will and authorize the executor to administer the estate. However, strategic estate planning measures such as revocable living trusts, joint ownership arrangements, and beneficiary designations (which we will discuss next week) can offer alternatives to the traditional probate proceedings. Ultimately, seeking professional legal guidance and crafting a well-structured estate plan tailored to individual circumstances is key to addressing the complexities of probate and ensuring the efficient transfer of assets to intended beneficiaries.

Our Office Can Help

Click here to Schedule a FREE Virtual Estate Planning Session. We will guide you through the entire process and help you understand what needs to be done to ensure your loved ones are taken care of.


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