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Can you avoid probate if your loved one had no will?

When a Georgia resident dies without leaving behind a last will and testament, surviving families may have to seek the court's assistance in reconciling the estate. Then again, that may not be necessary. It might be possible to avoid a lengthy and time-consuming probate process if everyone can get along.

Without a will, there could be fighting among heirs and creditors demanding to be paid. Your loved one's property will be distributed in accordance with Georgia law, which may not be how your loved one would have preferred. Under these circumstances, it will be necessary to begin the probate process. Depending on the amount of contention between the heirs and the number of creditors who need to be paid, it could take a significant amount of time before any distributions take place.

On the other hand, if you and the other heirs can agree to a distribution plan, and all creditors are either paid or agree to be paid outside the probate process, you may not have to go through it. It would still be necessary to draft a written plan to which everyone involved would need to agree, including any creditors. If that is possible, then you would only need to file a Petition for Order Declaring No Administration is Necessary along with the fully executed agreement.

If you believe that an amicable distribution of the property can occur, that does not necessarily eliminate the need for help from experienced probate counsel. The agreement will still need to be properly documented and executed, and the petition will need to be filed. Thereafter, it may be necessary to ensure that all of the distributed property is transferred to the appropriate party in accordance with Georgia law.

Source: FindLaw, "Georgia Probate Laws", Accessed on Sept. 13, 2017

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