Macon Estate Administration Lawyer
Comprehensive Legal Guidance to Cover all the Bases of Your Estate
Jen Haskins Law is here to help you understand your objectives, no matter the size and complexity of your estate. Attorney Jennifer Moore will help you to understand the different strategies available to help you effectively distribute your property while also minimizing the tax burden on your estate. Jennifer will prepare all the documents required to establish and implement your estate plan so you can rest easy about your future.
Jennifer works with clients at all stages of the administration of an estate, from the initial filing with the Probate Court to the final distribution of assets. Administration and Probate will typically include the following:
- Petition to Offer the Will for Probate
- Appointment of executor (if appointed in a will) or administrator (if no will)
- Determination of heirship if no will
- Publication of Notice to creditors
- Filing an inventory, appraisal, and/or annual returns with the court, if required
- Payment of liabilities of the estate
- Funding trusts created in the will
Estate administration can be a complex process, so it is best to consult an experienced attorney for legal guidance. Jennifer Moore provides warm and friendly counsel, especially for matters of high importance like the future of your estate, and you can count on the firm to look after your interests.
Schedule an initial consultation with Jen Haskins Law to learn more. Serving Houston and Jones Counties and Central Georgia.
The Estate Administration Process
The estate administration process may or may not involve probate, which is the court-supervised legal process that gives someone (usually the surviving spouse or other close relative) the authority to gather the deceased person's assets, pay their debts and taxes, and transfer the remaining assets to the named heirs.
The individual named by the deceased in their will to serve as the “executor” (called a “personal representative” in Georgia) will be in charge of settling all the affairs of the estate. If probate is required, the personal representative must go to court and request to be formally appointed as personal representative.
The personal representative will take an oath in court, promising to act in the best interests of the estate, and the court will issue a document called "Letters Testamentary" (if the executor was named in the will) or "Letters of Administration" (if the court appoints the administrator). With this document, the personal representative has the duty and authority to:
- collect and inventory the deceased person's assets, and keep them safe
- have the assets professionally appraised, if necessary
- sell some assets, if necessary
- pay valid debts and taxes, and
- give out the remaining property as the will (or if there's no will, state law) directs.
The three main things the personal representative will be responsible for during the estate administration process are:
- Handling the assets of the estate. The personal representative must keep records of the estate assets, such as submitting receipts, bills, and bank statements to the court. They may also need to provide a detailed inventory of the estate assets and an annual accounting (return) of the estate. Typically, they will also open a bank account for the estate and consolidate all existing cash accounts in that estate account, and the funds will be used to pay estate expenses.
- Settling debts and taxes. Within 60 days of serving as the personal representative, the individual must publish a note of a possible probate proceeding in the local paper to inform creditors to come forward within 3 months about any debts. The personal representative should also file the decedent’s final state and federal income tax returns, as well as any income tax required for the estate.
- Distributing the remaining property and closing the estate. Once all debts and taxes have been paid, the personal representative can then distribute the estate assets to the inheritors named in the will. If there is no will, the assets will be distributed to the decedent’s closest relatives.
After all the above steps are completed, the personal representative will file a Petition for Discharge with the court and be formally relieved of their duties, closing the estate and releasing the personal representative from any liability.
Assets that go through probate can include vehicles, real estate, bank and brokerage accounts, and personal belongings (e.g., jewelry and artwork). Life insurance proceeds that are payable to the estate (instead of a named beneficiary) should also be probated.
However, not all assets need to go through probate. Types of assets that do not need to be administered through probate are:
- assets the deceased person owned in “joint tenancy,” which pass automatically to the surviving owner;
- assets for which a beneficiary has been named outside of the will, such as retirement accounts with a named beneficiary, or payable-on-death bank accounts;
- life insurance proceeds or pension benefits that are payable to a named beneficiary; and
- assets held in a revocable living trust.
Estate administration can become complicated when family members or beneficiaries dispute over the administration process, which could lead to litigation. Jennifer Moore also assists clients in resolving such disputes through litigation, and she represents executors and trustees, as well as beneficiaries of a trust or estate. Common disputes she handles are:
- Will contests
- Lack of capacity and undue influence claims (invalid wills)
- Claims against executors and trustees
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Failure to make distributions appropriately
- Mishandling of funds
- Claims against conservators
- Interpretation of the language in a will or trust
- Declaratory judgments
Let an experienced legal professional ensure the estate administration runs smoothly and in your best interests.
Schedule an initial consultation with Jen Haskins Law to get started today.
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Meet Our Attorney
8-Time Winner of Best of the Best
By the Macon Telegraph
Jennifer N. Moore
An award-winning attorney, Jennifer is a 1997 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Georgia College & State University, and a 2000 graduate of Mercer Law School. Jennifer also participated in the Nation's first Certificate in Advanced Legal Writing, Research and Drafting program at Mercer Law School.Click here to Read More
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