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Understanding Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration in Georgia

Posted by Joel Beck | Jul 31, 2023 | 0 Comments

When it comes to managing one's estate, certain legal tools come into play to ensure a smooth transition of assets. One such tool, often misunderstood due to its somewhat complex terminology, is the "Letters Testamentary". To make this concept more approachable, we will unpack what it means, its significance in estate management, and the steps you would need to take to obtain one in Georgia.

What Are Letters Testamentary?

Letters Testamentary are legal documents issued by the probate court. These letters give the executor of an estate the authority to manage and distribute the deceased's assets according to their will. They serve as proof that the executor has the legal right to act on behalf of the estate.

In other words, Letters Testamentary are like a badge, a stamp of approval from the court, allowing the executor to access bank accounts, sell property, and take care of other tasks related to the estate.

Why Are Letters Testamentary Significant in the Probate Process?

The significance of Letters Testamentary can't be overstated. Without them, the executor would hit a brick wall at every turn. They wouldn't be able to access the deceased's financial accounts, sell real estate, or take any substantial action on behalf of the estate.

Imagine having the responsibility to manage an estate, but without the authority to do so. That's why Letters Testamentary are so crucial; they equip the executor with the legal authority necessary to carry out their responsibilities.

How Do You Obtain Letters Testamentary in Georgia?

Obtaining Letters Testamentary in Georgia involves several steps, but don't worry, we're here to guide you through the process.

First, the nominated executor named in the will must petition the probate court in the county where the deceased lived. This petition involves filling out specific forms and providing the court with a copy of the deceased's will and a death certificate.

Once the court verifies the will and approves the petition, they issue the Letters Testamentary. It's important to note that there might be a waiting period while the court validates the will and resolves any objections from heirs or creditors.

What about Letters of Administration?

In the case of a person who died without a Will, their estate is administered under Georgia's laws of intestate succession.  Someone, typically a close family member, will petition the court to open an estate for the decedent and to have an administrator appointed over the estate.  The administrator is essentially the executor of an estate where the decedent did not have a Will.  But, instead of issuing Letters Testamentary, the probate court will issue Letters of Administration to the person approved to serve as the administrator of the estate.  This gives the administrator the authority to act on behalf of the estate and settle it in accordance with Georgia law.

Reach Out to Peach State Wills & Trusts

We understand that dealing with estate matters can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with the loss of a loved one. However, with proper planning, you can ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at 678-344-5342 for help with the probate process in Georgia today, or for help creating and implementing your own estate plan. Remember, understanding and planning for your estate's needs today can help avoid unnecessary stress for your loved ones in the future.

If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached.

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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