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Probate litigation can cause problems for family members

When a person in Georgia dies, there is a legal process that follows in which that person’s property is transferred. Known as probate, the laws and customs pertaining to the process may have changed slightly over time, but the basic purpose has nonetheless remained very much the same. People formalize their intentions for the transfer of their property’s when they die in a will. The property is then collected, debts — if any — are paid from the estate, and, finally, the property is then distributed. Probate litigation occurs when a part of this process is contested.

Probating a person’s estate is usually managed by an executor. This is a person whom the decedent has chosen to manage his or her affairs once he or she dies. If no executor is named, a personal representative — known as an administrator — is appointed by the court to settle the decedent’s estate.

When the probate process begins, it may be either contested or uncontested. Most probate processes are contested due to an heir who is seeking a bigger share of the property than he or she received. The heir may offer arguments such as the decedent was improperly influenced when making gifts or was not aware of what he or she was doing when the will was executed — that is, he or she lacked the sufficient mental capacity to do so.

Writing a will is the first step in this process so that individuals and their families can protect themselves — as well as their legacies — to ensure that their families are taken care of in the event of their death. However, even the best laid plans can, at times, backfire, and heirs may find themselves in the middle of feuding family members. Individuals in Georgia who find themselves in the middle of such a probate litigation mess — or individuals who want to ensure that their families don’t end up in one — typically talk to an experienced attorney.

Source: FindLaw, “The Probate Basics“, Accessed on Aug. 2, 2016