Lawrenceville Probate Litigation Attorneys Handle Estate Issues
Firm advocates for parties in Georgia probate litigation cases
The period following the death of a loved one is always difficult, and the challenges associated with settling their estate can make things even tougher. If you need a probate lawyer, Lawrenceville law firm Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C. is ready to discuss your case. Our legal team serves probate clients in Gwinnett, Jackson and Barrow counties, as well as surrounding areas. We offer knowledgeable guidance to both families and fiduciaries so that probate duties are carried out in accordance with the decedent’s instructions and the pertinent law.
What is probate litigation?
Even when a decedent has engaged in careful estate planning, disputes might arise over how their assets should be distributed. In these cases, we assist will executors, trustees and potential beneficiaries by giving them honest counsel about the relevant legal standards and providing strong advocacy in court if that’s necessary to honor the testator’s intentions.
We handle all types of estate administration tasks
From the point that someone dies, several steps typically must occur as part of the probate process, including:
- Proving the validity of the will — If you have been appointed as the executor of someone’s will, you should file the document with the court promptly after their death and petition to be named personal representative of the estate. Should a dispute exist over whether the will is valid due to an allegation of fraud, mistake, lack of capacity, duress or failure to comply with legal requirements, our firm will work to prove the document is authentic.
- Creating an estate inventory — Property owned by the decedent needs to be located, appraised and brought into the estate. It is important to remember that the inventory does not include certain items, such as life insurance proceeds, jointly held accounts, assets in a living trust or an investment with contingent beneficiary rights.
- Managing estate transactions — As representative of the estate, you are responsible for using available funds to pay outstanding debts, taxes and other unresolved obligations left by the decedent. You also need to keep careful track of income accruing to the estate from investments and other assets.
- Distributing property — Once all obligations are addressed and all property is brought into the estate, assets can be distributed to the named beneficiaries or the family members who are entitled to receive property under Georgia’s intestacy laws. From there, you can file a Petition for Discharge to close the estate.
Though you’ve been named as an executor, you might not have any experience handling sophisticated legal issues. Even an honest mistake could threaten estate assets and expose you to personal liability. Our firm is ready to assist you every step of the way to help you avoid common pitfalls.
High-risk factors for probate litigation
You can never be certain how people will react after a deceased family member dies. Relationships that seemed healthy could turn quickly when the distribution of wealth is at stake. However, there are some factors that might increase the likelihood of a probate dispute. These include existing family conflicts, decedents who have children with more than one partner, high net worth estates and complex estate arrangements. If you anticipate that probate litigation is possible due to a sibling rivalry or some other reason, we can help you protect your interests and deal with any conflicts that arise.
What is “reasonable compensation?”
Serving as the personal representative of a decedent’s estate can require an extensive amount of time and effort. Accordingly, the law authorizes reasonable compensation for an executor or administrator. Optimally, the representative and other beneficiaries will find an amount that everyone agrees is appropriate given the complexity of the estate provisions and the length of the probate process. However, if there is a dispute as to what level of compensation is reasonable, we can assess the relevant factors and work on your behalf to reach a proper resolution.
The statute of limitations rules you must know when challenging an estate
In common-form probate, potential heirs do not receive notice and have up to four years to contest a will. However, when someone is noticed as part of the solemn-form probate process, they might only have a very short time to respond. Regardless of your particular situation, if you are concerned about the authenticity of a will, you should act quickly, even if that means filing a caveat before the will is submitted to the court.
Contact an experienced Georgia probate litigation attorney for a consultation
Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C. assists clients in Gwinnett County, and throughout the state, who are engaged in disputes over probate issues. You can speak with a seasoned litigator about your estate matter by calling or contacting us online. Our office is located in Lawrenceville.