Wills, Probate, and Estate Administration

Attorney representation in Atlanta, Georgia since the seventies

People regularly ask “Do I need a will?” 
There are many issues involved in answering that question.  Without a will, a death can result in personal and legal battles between legal heirs.  One of the more common scenarios occurs when there are grown children and a spouse from a second marriage who are all heirs to the decedent’s estate. Other times, old feuds and bad feelings between or among siblings can turn the division of assets in a parent’s estate into a nightmare that spills over into legal action.
It is better to have a will unless there are very minimal assets involved.  A bank account with less than $10,000 can be transferred by heir affidavit in Georgia, but anything more than that will require that an estate be opened. 
Assets can include:

  • Cash or brokerage accounts;
  • Real Property;
  • Personal belongings, including valuable jewelry, artwork, or other collections.

An estate can be opened without a will, but the process is much simpler with a will in place. Parents and children should have open communication before death becomes imminent so that children can get to understand a parent’s wishes and desires regarding distribution of their assets, the details of their burial, and many other questions.   When a person dies who previously had signed a pre or post nuptial agreement with their spouse, the family needs to understand exactly how that agreement fits into the probate process.  Using a reputable Atlanta probate lawyer can make the difference between an estate that is settled in an efficient manner and a litigated ordeal  that can split families apart.
When seeking a probate lawyer in Atlanta, look for someone who has the track record of getting positive outcomes for their clients without spending so much time that the estate assets are all spent on attorneys fees.  He or she should be able to demonstrate through client testimonials and other means that they deliver positive results for their clients.  An attorney working in this field should understand that often,  family members need mediation more than litigation in order to get their loved one’s estate settled.

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