Probate is the sequence of events that occur in the administration of a decedent’s estate. A probate court is a legal forum designed to provide the beneficiaries of a decedent with procedures for resolving questions concerning the decedent’s personal property and financial affairs. Once a decision has been reached by the probate court regarding the distribution of the decedent’s properties, an order is sent to the decedent’s personal representative requesting that the proceeds from the decedent’s estate be distributed. A last will and testament is then executed to comply with probate procedures. Once the probate process has been completed, an estate distribution order is issued.
Probate Court is an institutional court that exercises jurisdiction over counties, including common law, and federal civil cases. The Probate Court usually has the authority to grant allowances, privileges, and powers to a surviving spouse or an individual who is the beneficiary of a decedent’s estate. Probate does not limit the decisions of the probate court; however, it does require compliance with probate proceedings. It is in the best interests of the surviving spouse or the individual requesting the distribution of the deceased’s property to request that a last will and testament are prepared and filed promptly prior to the distribution of the decedent’s estate.
Probate is one of two major types of procedure that the Court of Probate orders creditors to pay, the other being foreclosure. Probate is mandatory before the release of property from the estate of a deceased person, whereas foreclosure is not always required. The probate court determines whether a decedent’s property should be distributed as provided in the probate proceedings. If the probate court determines that the decedent’s estate should be distributed under the provisions of the Probate Code, the proceeds of the decedent’s estate are exempt from taxation.
The proceeds from the probate proceedings are distributed between the beneficiaries or creditors and the remaining debts and accrued capital gains or losses. One can anticipate that creditors will pursue the collection of debts against the decedent’s properties no matter what the ultimate decision of the court may be. Although creditors are often successful in obtaining judgments against the deceased for their unpaid debts, they may be left with very little assets to recover. Most people do not realize the importance of planning for probate proceedings and the distribution of assets prior to estates settlement. Failure to properly distribute probate assets may leave creditors with very little to recover at estates settlement.
Although most people have no knowledge of probate proceedings, they are vitally important to the financial well-being of any family or business. The probate process provides the means for an individual or business to distribute its assets after a relative dies, passes away, or becomes incapacitated. In addition to providing funds to the heir or beneficiaries of the decedent, the legal process serves as a binding contract in which all beneficiaries agree to repay the deceased person’s creditors on the death of the individual. There are many different types of probate estate planning instruments that can be used to restructure the probate process, including asset protection trusts, revocable living trust, and probate alliances. These types of planning procedures are used to assure that all assets are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries according to their own wishes and preferences.
Estate planning is a specialized area of the law, and is best handled by a qualified probate attorney in Georgia. The initial meeting between an attorney and client should begin with a comprehensive questionnaire of their personal and business financial information. The goal of this initial meeting is to gather information on the decedent’s lifestyle and assets to help the attorney to develop a plan for the new probate process. It is also important to discuss what type of hearing would be convenient for both parties. This may include either a preliminary evaluation in which case the attorney will gather information through interview, investigation, and consultation with other experts, or a more in depth evaluation where the probate proceedings will take place. By working with a qualified probate attorney, individuals can rest assured that their final wishes will be respected during the new probate process.