There are four basic steps to this process we’re going to cover in this article. This is not a full compromising list but is a good basis to use to help navigate this difficult and often confusing process.
Step 1: File the Petition
While this might seem obvious to some, many don’t know where or what starts the process and it simply begins once you file the Petition with Fulton County. This petition will either require you to submit the Will to the Court or the Court will assign an Administrator for you. A notice of the hearing must then be delivered to all heirs/beneficiaries.
Step 2: Notify Creditors
There will also be a posting in the local newspaper alerting any other potential beneficiaries or creditors of the hearing. It is important that whoever the court appoints as representative of the state must alert all creditors by written letter. The creditors then have 90 days to make a claim against the estate. Georgia Probate law requires that the estate remain open long enough for creditors to respond to the notice, generally at least 3 months. Once the hearing is completed, the estates assets are then inventoried to establish their value. There are even times that an independent 3rd party performs the appraisals of non-cash assets.
Step 3: Estate Expenses
It’s important to remember that not all claims from creditors are legitimate. It is up to the Estate Administrator to determine a valid claim and ensure that any funds be disbursed appropriately. It is entirely possible that property may need to be sold from the estate to help pay back creditors.
Step 4: Title Transfer
After all of the creditors claims have been satisfied, the title can then be transferred. Fulton County probate courts should then be petitioned for the authority to transfer the title. Once granted, a new deed will be drawn and the property and assets will be distributed as needed.
How long can this process take?
Depending on the difficulty of the case, the process normally takes about a year to complete. With more complicated cases being much longer.
Is it possible to skip probate court?
There are actually several ways to skip probate court, which can help skip the lengthy, and often expensive, process. The one of these ways is to designate beneficiaries specifically on life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement accounts, or any investment accounts. Another way is to have Joint Ownership of properties. A living trust is another way of avoiding probate court. The grantor of the trust establishes the account and the trustee succeeds control of the trust account in the event of the grantor’s death or incapacitation. All of these steps avoid occur outside Probate court.
One way that we help homeowners through the probate process is by purchasing their homes from them outright. This can be done at quite a few points during the probate process, but the earlier the better. Contact us today at (770) 810-5715 to find out if selling your house for cash is right for you. We’re also linked up with many other useful resources related to the Fulton County probate process, so if we can’t buy your house for cash we still might be able to help you out.