When drafting their estate plan, many people want to make the task of distributing their estate as easy as possible for their Executor when the time comes. The most important way to do this is simply to have a properly executed Will and/or trust in place. If you are using a Will-based plan, an important option to consider is waiving requirements for inventory, appraisals, annual reports, and bonds in your Will.
What are the inventory, appraisals, annual reports, and bonds?
The inventory, appraisal, annual report, and bond requirements in the probate system are intended to hold your representative accountable and protect your beneficiaries during the probate process. After your death, your personal representative will be responsible for settling your estate through the probate court. One of the first steps in this process is creating a probate inventory. This is a list of all the assets in your estate, including bank accounts, vehicles, real estate, and your personal property. Appraisal of certain property may also be required to determine their value. This inventory lets the court and your beneficiaries know what all is included in the estate, which adds a layer of security and keeps your representative accountable.
Along with the inventory requirement, your representative will need to file an annual report with the court. Each year, he or she must present to the court a record of the changes to your estate, such as the distribution of assets, use of funds, or other changes to the inventory. If any discrepancies are found between the report and your estate, your representative may be called upon to explain.
Your representative may also be asked to submit a bond with the probate court. This bond, in an amount determined by the court in accordance with the value of your estate, serves to protect your beneficiaries should the representative abuse their responsibility and mishandle your assets in some way.
Do I Really Need Them?
Each of these requirements is intended as a safeguard against a rogue actor mishandling your estate. They keep your representative accountable, and keep the process transparent for your other beneficiaries and the court.
However, while these requirements have their place and can be beneficial in some situations, they can also create more hassle, expense, and headaches for your executor as they work through the probate process, and it can certainly slow the probate process.
Perhaps you trust that your executor will honestly and appropriately manage your estate with no issue and these steps seem unnecessary, or you just want to make the process as easy as possible for them. In Georgia, you have the option to waive these requirements in your Will, releasing your executor from the legal obligation to complete these tasks. This can make the probate process much easier and faster for your executor and your loved ones.
If have questions about waiving these requirements in your estate plan, call Peach State Wills and Trusts at (678) 344-5342. For more information on estate planning, click here to request our free Guide to Estate Planning in Georgia.