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Understanding how your will works in probate

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.

First, your will only distributes those assets that are subject to probate. This means that any assets you have that will not pass to someone through a beneficiary designation form or through being a joint asset do not go through the court process. For example, if you own a home in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship with your spouse, have assets in a trust or life insurance policies, there is no need to probate these types of assets.

Some provisions of your will may also not be enforceable. For instance, your current spouse cannot be disinherited. He or she has a legal right to at least a portion of the assets you leave behind without express written consent from your spouse. If you have minor children or adult children who you still claim as dependents, they have a statutory right to support.

These are just some of the issues that pertain to how your will works in probate. Without the proper knowledge, you could end up making your will unenforceable in court or end up leaving assets to someone to whom you never intended. In order to ensure that your will remains valid and that your wishes are carried it, it may be beneficial to discuss your situation and desires with a Georgia attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Estate Administration: The Will After Death", Accessed on Dec. 17, 2017

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