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The Executor's Journey: Time Frame for Settling an Estate in Georgia

Posted by Joel Beck | Jun 23, 2023 | 0 Comments

If you've been appointed as an executor or administrator of an estate in Georgia, you may feel daunted by the responsibility. This important role involves managing and settling the deceased's affairs—a task that can feel complex and overwhelming. One of the first questions you might ask is, "How long will this process take?" At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we're here to help you understand the timeline of estate administration. We believe that breaking down the process into manageable steps can provide some much-needed clarity. Let's discuss the journey you'll embark on as an executor.

The Initial Phase: Probate Process Commencement

Typically, the executor's or administrator's duties commence once they have been officially appointed by the court, a process known as "probate". After the court's approval, the executor/administrator has the responsibility to gather the decedent's assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries under a Will, or the heirs of an intestate estate.

The probate process generally begins within the first few months after a person's death. However, it's recommended to initiate probate proceedings much sooner rather than later. In Georgia, there is no statutory deadline to begin this process, but delays can potentially lead to complications and disputes among beneficiaries. Importantly, if a person is in possession of an original Will of a decedent, they have a legal obligation to submit that to the probate court in a timely manner after the death of the decedent.  This probate process commencement phase begins with the preparation of the appropriate filings with the probate court to appoint someone as an executor or administrator, and to admit the will to probate if there was a will. This phase ends when the court has ruled on those submissions and appoints someone as the executor or administrator.

Estate Settlement: A Matter of Months or Years

The time required to settle an estate in Georgia is not strictly defined. Each estate is unique and comes with its own set of complexities. Small and uncomplicated estates can take six months to a year to settle, while larger, more complex estates may take several years to finalize.

A few factors can impact the duration of this process, including the size of the estate, the type of assets involved, the clarity of the deceased's will (if there was a will), and whether there are any disputes or challenges regarding the will, the appointment of an executor or administrator, the determination of the validity of creditor claims, or disputes concerning the distribution of the assets of the estate. Legal issues and tax matters can also add to the time frame.

This settlement process takes a minimum of 4 months, as the required notice to debtors and creditors is published in the county's legal newspaper once a week for four weeks, and then there is a 90 day period for creditors to submit claims for treatment with other similarly ranked claimants. During that time the executor or administrator works to marshal together the assets of the decedent. Then, after the expiration of the period for timely creditor claims, the executor or administrator works to determine the validity of the claims against the estate, if any, and makes those payments, or, if there are not enough assets in the estate to satisfy all debts, pays them in compliance with state law or in some situations, per a court order.  

The Final Stage: Distribution of Assets and Discharge

Once all debts, taxes, and expenses have been paid, the remaining assets, if any, are  distributed to the beneficiaries under a will, or the heirs at law in the case of an intestate estate. After that, the executor or administrator can request to be discharged from their duties by the court. The executor or administrator may be required to provide a final accounting, detailing how the estate's assets were managed and distributed.

The final accounting should include receipts and other proofs of distribution to demonstrate that the creditors have been paid and beneficiaries or heirs have received their inheritances. After reviewing these documents, the court will discharge the executor or administrator from their responsibilities. This can occur anywhere from six or seven months to several years after the process began, depending on the complexities of the estate.

Expert Guidance Through the Probate Process

The probate process can be overwhelming, especially during a time of grief, and when people are unfamiliar with the probate process.  That's where Peach State Wills & Trusts steps in. As experienced estate planning and probate lawyers, we assist executors and administrators in understanding and managing their responsibilities, which can help to expedite and ease the burden of the probate process.

From the beginning, we assist in submitting the will and probate petitions to the probate court to get an executor or administrator appointed, and then provide general guidance on next steps with respect to settlement of the estate.  Where needed, we're available to guide you through the process of gathering the deceased's assets, paying bills and making distributions to heirs or beneficiaries by helping you understand which debts and taxes need to be paid and in what order, ensuring you fulfill your responsibilities correctly and efficiently. We can also guide you in the distribution of the remaining assets in accordance with Georgia law and the wishes of the deceased as stated in their will, or in intestate estates, following state law for distribution of assets 

Resolving Disputes and Complexities

If any disputes or challenges arise during the probate process, our team can connect you with skilled probate litigators to assist with that matter. Our focus here is on uncontested estates, helping families work together to go along and get along and get the estate of their loved one settled.  

Peach State Wills & Trusts: Streamlining Estate Settlement in Georgia

By partnering with Peach State Wills & Trusts, you'll have peace of mind knowing that the estate settlement process is handled professionally and efficiently. This allows you to focus on your personal needs during this difficult time. Contact us at 678-344-5342 to learn how to plan for and streamline the estate settlement process in Georgia today.

Have more questions about estate planning in Georgia? Don't hesitate to download our free guide here, no strings attached. Your peace of mind is our top priority, and we're here to provide the support you need.

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


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At Peach State Wills and Trusts, a division of The Beck Law Firm, LLC, we're committed to answering your questions about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, uncontested probate, and business planning issues in Georgia.

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