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When friendly estate administration and probate go up in flames

When a Georgia resident dies, the potential for conflict over the assets left behind remains regardless of how well he or she planned. Any chance of friendly estate administration and probate goes up in flames when surviving family members argue and initiate litigation over the estate. This happened to one family in which the decedent owned a tobacco farm prior to death.

The litigation over the estate has gone on for around seven years. At the center of the litigation is a tobacco farm that provides tobacco for cigars. The farm brings in approximately $2 million per year. When the decedent executed his will in 2004, he reportedly had $5 million in assets with only $100 in debt. A recent filing in court regarding the estate's inventory now lists assets in the amount of $2.8 million dollars and debt of approximately $7 million.

Litigation began approximately 15 months after the will was filed with the court after the decedent's death in 2009. Since that time, the executor, who was one of two siblings, was removed after his sister commenced the litigation. As the litigation progressed, the court ruled that the former executor owed the estate over $2 million. Recently, a settlement was reached wherein the brother will pay his sister a total of $725,000 over time, which will end this long, drawn out litigation.

When litigation is filed during estate administration and probate, it not only diminishes the assets of the estate, but also tends to destroy relationships between family members. However, when it appears that one family member is misusing the assets of the estate -- or otherwise taking advantage of his or her position as executor -- litigation might be the only course of action. When Georgia residents create an estate plan, they often do so with the aim of protecting and providing for those they love, but sometimes, that is just not possible.

Source: courant.com, "Siblings Agree To $725,000 Settlement In Jarmoc Farm Probate Battle", David Altimari, Feb. 6, 2017

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