In general, probate and estate planners are accountants who organize, and execute any last will and testament, trust document, or other documents that name beneficiaries, said a Georgia probate and estate planning lawyer. In general, probate and estate planners handle the entire probate and estate planning process, from filling out legal forms to filing paperwork with state agencies. They are also responsible for the guardianship of minor children, and act as their legal representatives until they are of age, at which time they can assume such duties themselves.
In a typical situation, when someone dies, their estate is left in the hands of their personal representative, commonly referred to as a probate lawyer or probate attorney. This person is responsible for fulfilling the intent of their last will and testament, preparing the trust account and distributing the assets to all beneficiaries, as well as paying any outstanding estate taxes, and other creditors. Typically, probate attorneys and representatives have very busy schedules because of these duties, and it’s not uncommon for some probate work to be done by the personal representative while the decedent is still alive. However, even when the person dies after writing a Will, the probate court may still require that the probate lawyer file a statement in the probate court on behalf of the decedent, to ensure that the decedent’s last will and testament are properly completed and executed.
In short, the last will and testament are used as the tool for creating a will or charter that will be required to sign during the probate proceedings. At the same time, the probate court must make certain that any requirements of real property tax, for example, are fulfilled, and must certify that the decedent’s beneficiaries have the money they need to pay those taxes. If the person dies without having prepared a Last Will and Testament, there could be serious complications with probate, including possible civil actions from creditors. Also, without a Will, beneficiaries may not receive the proper inheritance share and could be denied rightful inheritance. Therefore, people who die without having prepared Last Will and Testament will find themselves at the mercy of the probate court.
There are some cases where a Will can be received by the decedent’s beneficiaries prior to the probate proceedings in the probate court. If the decedent leaves a living trust, his/her attorney can file paperwork with the court offering to fill in any gaps in the Will, if desired. If the decedent did not specify how his/her estate would be distributed, his/her attorney may suggest that his/her estate be divided into “pieces” or tranches, and this can also be done prior to the probate court order. There are also some financial planners who believe that the new probate process, with its emphasis on beneficiaries, actually enhances the process of estate planning.
After the probate court orders the distribution of probate assets and proceeds, how should they be transferred? One option is for the decedent to direct which assets go to whomever he/she wants them to go to. This could be a spouse, a family member or a friend. The other option would be to have a probate lawyer transfer the assets to an account, the lawyer can manage so that it is used for the decedent’s specific purposes.
Last but not least, estate planning and probate lawyers must coordinate with each other to make sure that the final plan does not exceed the probate limit. The two often must work closely together, particularly when the probate lawyer has many beneficiaries who must be paid the appropriate inheritance share. Estate planning can be time consuming and difficult. It is important, however, that everyone involved, from the executor to the probate lawyer, follow the law to avoid problems.