The "good old days" of sorting through desk drawers and filing cabinets for important papers seem to be reaching an end. Technology makes it possible for much of a Georgia resident's life to be created, managed and stored online. This may make things easier during life, but after death, it could complicate estate administration.
Now that more people, including many here in Georgia, are divorcing and remarrying later in life, some people only get a short time with their new loves. In many cases, the woman survives her new husband since women still tend to live longer than men do. When it comes to settling a deceased husband's estate, simply being a stepmother may increase the likelihood of probate becoming heated.
Charles Manson is best known throughout the country, including here in Georgia, for being the mastermind behind the murders of nine people, which were carried out by his followers. Over the years and until his death in Nov. 2017, Manson periodically made the news. Many may have thought that his death would be the last time his name made news, but it is back -- this time in probate court.
Perhaps your loved one asked you to serve as part of his or her estate plan after death. You may have accepted the position, perhaps believing that you would never have to serve. Then, your loved one died, and now you are called into service as your loved one's successor trustee and face dealing with the duties of trust administration here in Georgia.
Like other Georgia residents, you may have been told at some point that you need to create and execute a last will and testament. You were told that this would allow you to designate how your estate is distributed during probate. What you may not have been told is exactly how that happens. It may help to understand a last will and testament's use in probate court before completing your estate plan.
After a loved one passes away, surviving family members often experience a myriad of emotions. During this time, a probate will may also be started in order to settle that Georgia resident's estate. As you find out more about the will, you may begin to suspect that something just is not right. You may begin to wonder if you should challenge the will.
Many Georgia residents will ask that a trusted individual take on double duty after they pass away. You may have been asked and accepted the responsibilities as both executor of the estate and trustee of a trust. In this case, you will be responsible for more than just a probate as you work through your estate administration duties on behalf of your loved one.
Estate planning may not be high on the list of things that most people want to do, but it is necessary. Not only will it keep the state of Georgia from deciding what happens to an individual's assets upon death, but it could also be structured in such a way that probate may not be necessary. Many people do not understand that during the process, surviving family members will not have access to any assets that are subject to the probate process.
The outcomes of legal cases addressing new or evolving situations and technology often set precedents for how laws should be applied moving forward. Estate administration appears to have experienced just such a precedent, with a recent court ruling affecting how emails might be handled after death. The case also highlights the importance of addressing how digital assets should handled.
Being chosen as an executor is both a privilege and a responsibility. The fact that a loved one decided that you were the best person to undertake the estate administration duties after his or her death may have felt like a honor, but you also need to understand what it will entail. Fortunately, you do not have to fulfill your duties alone as you go through the Georgia probate process.