First, take a deep breath and grieve in an appropriate way. Mourn your dearly departed and consider seeking bereavement counseling. Although there are Georgia probate time limits, if you have enough money to pay all bills due the first month following the death of a loved one, and as long as there are no pressing emergencies, it is usually fine to wait a few weeks before seeing an attorney. Atlanta area attorney Charles Scholle has the expertise to help executors named in a will (and other family members) with questions about how to proceed with probate.
If you think it will bring you some peace of mind, there is no drawback to seeing an attorney sooner, but ask if there are things that can wait. It will be much better for you if you are able to think reasonably and clearly before delving into the intricacies of probate.
Assuming the proper Georgia estate planning documents were drafted and executed, this should not be a problem.
Once you have resolved to move forward, take the following steps:
- Gather Important Documents.
- Certified copies of the Death Certificate – Get at least 5 copies from the county health department, county Probate Court or funeral director.
- ID Numbers – Make a list of social security numbers of the deceased, the spouse and any dependent children. Include the birth and military service number of the deceased, if possible.
- Insurance Policies – Look for life insurance, mortgage or loan insurance, accident insurance, auto insurance, and credit card insurance.
- Marriage Certificate – Copies are available at the probate court clerk’s office in the county where the license was issued.
- Copy of the Will (if any) – If you do not know where the deceased kept the original, check the safety deposit box or safe. If unsuccessful, contact an attorney.
- Income Tax Returns – Get copies of the returns for the last 4 years.
- Asset list – It should show all real, personal and financial property belonging to the deceased. Learn the difference between probate and non-probate assets.
- Find out what matters are “time-sensitive.” If there are mortgages, notes payable and other debt-related obligations, payments may need to be made quickly. If the decedent used the services of a CPA or bookkeeper, contact this person immediately. If not, it may be a good idea to find an accountant to help you make sense of the financial records.
- Make an Appointment to See an Attorney. In advance of such a meeting, if you need further information, consider the link to the following guide. William Self, a probate judge in Macon, Georgia, has published an excellent guide and glossary for individuals who have suffered the loss of a loved one and have immediate questions. Click link below: Georgia Probate Proceedings “What To Do When Your Loved One Dies”
CONTACT OUR LAW FIRM FOR A FREE CONFIDENTIAL PHONE CONSULTATION ON YOUR PROBATE MATTER 866-972-5287 nationwide and 770-717-5100 in Atlanta
If you were named as executor or if you may serve as fiduciary in the estate of a loved one who has died in Gwinnett County or metro-Atlanta, and you would like to learn more about your options, Charles Scholle can help.
To discuss your case at a free, confidential phone consultation, please contact the firm online, Email, or call 866-972-5287 nationwide and 770-717-5100 in Atlanta.
Based in Gwinnett County, Scholle Law represents clients throughout Metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia.