What is the difference between an estate planning attorney and a probate attorney? Many people use the terms interchangeably, but while some attorneys may handle both estate planning and probate matters, these are actually two distinct practice areas.
At Peach State Wills and Trusts, we practice estate planning. This means that we help people get their affairs in order by preparing Wills, Trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives while they are still alive. This is the key: estate planning occurs prior to one's death.
After a person passes away, the estate plan that they prepared goes into effect, and the probate process begins. The executor of the estate, designated in the Will, is charged with carrying out this process. In a nutshell, probate in Georgia involves…
- Filing the deceased's Will with the probate court.
- Locating the deceased's assets.
- Settling any debts or taxes owed.
- Distributing remaining assets according to the deceased's wishes.
This is where a probate attorney steps in. These attorneys assist the executor during probate by helping him or her with the tasks listed above and offering guidance should questions or complications arise. Probate can be a long process, and having an attorney involved can make things easier for the executor and the deceased's loved ones during what is already a difficult time.
A probate attorney is also needed when a person dies without an estate plan in place, called dying intestate. In this case, the court will appoint an administrator to ensure assets are distributed according to Georgia's laws of intestate succession (learn more about these laws here). A probate attorney can be a valuable asset in this situation and can guide the deceased's family through the intestate process.
At Peach State Wills and Trusts, we prepare estate plans but do not handle probate cases. If you're ready to protect yourself and your loved ones with a custom estate plan, give us a call at (678) 344-5342. To learn more, click here to request our free Guide to Estate Planning in Georgia.