Probate FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Probate Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

Probate is the administration of the probate estate of a decedent.

Probate is the legal process of managing a person’s “probate estate” – collecting, preserving, and distributing assets; and paying bills and other liabilities.

Avoiding probate should not be a person’s goal.  Probate does take months and involves filing fees and other costs; however, probate also provides for a thorough management tool in the administration of a person’s estate.  Certain tools allow us to prepare documents and structure your assets so as to ease, minimize, or eliminate probate; however, that decision should be made on a case by case basis.

When a family member dies, first take the time to mourn.  Once you are ready, be sure to obtain multiple copies of certified death certificates of the individual.  You should not dispose of any non-perishable items or attempt to sell or transfer any assets until consulting with an attorney, as you may be engaging in a fraudulent conveyance or other improper act.  The attorney will give you a check list of what you should and should not do.

No one is required to take property from another person.  To formally reject a bequest, the beneficiary should file a “Disclaimer.”  At that time, the fiduciary administering the estate will follow the terms of the will to determine the appropriate party to pass such disclaimed portion of the probate estate.

The executor (named in a will) or administrator (appointed by the probate court) acts as the personal representative in managing the decedent’s probate estate:  gathering, preserving, and managing assets; paying liabilities; and then distributing the remaining assets as required

You are not required to have an attorney to file or engage in probate; however, you are required to prepare and file specific documents and follow state laws.  Therefore, it is always prudent to use the services of someone familiar with such applicable documents, laws, and procedures.

Only assets owned outright in the name of the decedent which do not pass by beneficiary designation or any other operation of law will pass through probate.

Right of survivorship is when multiple people own one asset which automatically passes to the survivor(s) by operation of law.

While the State of Georgia allows personal representatives to serve from all states and most countries, the State of Florida only allows fiduciaries living in the State of Florida to serve.

Probate is filed in the probate court of the county in which the decedent had a registered primary residence on his date of death.

No.  Anyone may refuse any fiduciary probate designation.

The personal representative has the right to receive reasonable compensation for the services, based upon his services and the total value of the estate and permissions granted in the will.

No.

Nothing.  Unfortunately, verbal promises are not binding in favor of the will.

Nothing.  Unfortunately, verbal promises are not binding in favor of the will.

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