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What happens during probate?

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2021 | estates, wills and probate litigation |

When a person dies with a will, it may need to go through probate. For loved ones, this may mean waiting a while before they inherit what the decedent wanted them to have.

The probate process is something that many are not familiar with before having to become so. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the basics of how probate works in Georgia.

The beginning of the probate

A will becomes active upon a person’s death. The will should name an executor or personal representative of the estate who handles the probate process. The personal representative gathers an accurate accounting of the assets and debts. Once the court receives this, notices to creditors and heirs go out to inform them that probate is ongoing.

Paying debts and inheritance

The court then reviews the claims against the will and directs the personal representative to pay valid debts. Once these payments become final, the personal representative next divvies up the items in the estate as set out in the will. This step may become tricky if someone not named as an heir tries to stake a claim to the will and challenge it. However, absent this, the estate pays out per the will.

The closing of probate

Once the estate balance is at zero, the personal representative informs the court. The judge reviews the actions taken by the personal representative, and if things are in order, the judge closes probate. The process from start to finish may take eight months to a year. If someone challenges the will, it may take longer.

Probate may delay the disbursement of money and property to those left behind. Understanding how the process works may help in estate planning to account for it.