Estate Administration in Northeast Georgia

A county administrator is appointed by the probate court to process an estate through probate. County administrators in each county in Georgia serve wherever they’re needed.

Attorney Dylan Wilbanks of the Wilbanks Law Firm has considerable experience administering complex and simple estates. He’s helped many families navigate the issues that arise when probating estates. We understand that trying to distribute assets or property fairly can be challenging, especially when several creditors, beneficiaries, or heirs are vying for property.

Dylan is Jackson County’s administrator. He has assisted countless families throughout northeast Georgia navigate the probate process. He can also serve as a conservator when necessary. Dylan applies his knowledge of real estate and probate law to ensure the probate process is concluded promptly but fairly.

Call (706) 510-0000 or use our online form to schedule your consultation today.

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Understanding Estate Administrators’ Purpose

In most estate plans, the testator (creator of the will) will name someone who will oversee their estate upon the testator’s death. This personal representative or executor, will take care of the locating, gathering and in some cases liquidating assets of the estate and then paying outstanding debts or taxes, and then distributing the remaining assets according to the testator’s wishes as directed by their will.

When someone dies without a will, they are considered “intestate.” They won’t have someone named to administer their estate. In most cases a family member of the testator will petition the probate court to become the administrator of the estate. In some cases, the county probate court can name a county estate administrator to oversee the probate process.

Some families decide to hire an administrator or to allow the county administrator to be appointed if there is a conflict between several parties and the named executor. In some cases, administrators are hired because the initial personal representative or executor is unable or has refused to complete their duties.

Duties of an Estate Administrator

An estate administrator is responsible for overseeing the estate’s affairs. They are responsible for:

  • Collecting, tracking and liquidating the decedent’s assets.
  • Identifying any federal or state tax obligations.
  • Paying the estate’s debts, bills, or expense
  • Distributing the balance of remaining assets to beneficiaries.

Appointing an Estate Executor/Administrator

After a loved one dies, their estate will enter probate in the county they lived in. So if a Commerce resident died, their family would file for probate with the Jackson County Probate Court. If the decedent (person who died) has a will then the named executor will petition the court and be appointed as the executor of the estate. The named executor will then begin administering their estate. However, estates without a will, will need someone whether it is a family member or close family friend to petition the court to be appointed as the administrator in order to begin administering the estate.

The probate court will issue “Letters of Testamentary” for testate (dying with a will) estates and “Letters of Administration” for intestate (dying without a will) estates.

What Are Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration?

The letters testamentary and letters of administration officially appoint someone to oversee the decedent’s estate. The letter authorizes the administrator to collect assets, negotiate with and pay creditors, and work on the estate’s behalf.

Letters Testamentary and Letters of administration give the personal representative or administrator the authority to talk to financial institutions, make financial decisions, and transfer or sell property. Receiving these letters can vary case by case and from county to county, but you may expect them to be issued within three to six months of beginning the probate process with the appropriate court.

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Georgia’s Intestate Probate Process

Once an administrator has been appointed by the court, the administrator will begin administering the estate. They will begin identifying the assets and liabilities associated with the estate, such bank accounts, investments, business interests, real estate, and other personal property.

The administrator is required to alert creditors within two months of their appointment. They’ll also work on finding the values of the estate’s assets. The administrator can hire appraisers and have appraisals prepared for real estate, business valuations for any business interest, they may also hire accountants for tax purposes and any contractor for repair work to any estate property.

It is important that the administrator keep an accurate records including an inventory of the estate’s assets and detailed financial records for any monies coming in or out of the estate.

It is also the duty of the administrator to determine whether or not the estate has any tax liabilities for federal or state taxes. The administrator will pay all expenses or outstanding debts, taxes, and court fees using the available estate funds.

Once the administrator has determined that all liabilities of the estate have been paid, the administrator will distribute any remaining assets to the beneficiaries and heirs according to the laws of intestacy in the State of Georgia.

Once the administrator has fully administered the estate, meaning that all debts have been paid, all property has been transferred and/or liquidated, taxes have been paid, the beneficiaries have received their inheritance, the estate no longer holds property or money, and the administrator has filed all necessary inventories and returns with the court, then the administrator can petition the court to be discharged from all liability and responsibility of the estate. All estates must be opened for at least six (6) months prior to filing a petition to discharge.

Estate Administration FAQs

Are All Administrators Equal?

There can be temporary administrators or permanent administrators. Temporary administrators are typically assigned in cases of emergency or, while possibly not an emergency, there are other issues to resolve that may take months and an estate requires a personal representative in the meantime. They may lack certain authority or have limits on what work they can do for the estate. There can also be time limits on a temporary administrator’s authority.

Permanent administrators have greater authority to oversee the estate.

Can My Family Hire an Estate Administrator if the Will Appoints a Representative?

Most wills name an executor to administer the estate through the probate process. However, sometimes heirs and beneficiaries may disagree with the appointed executor. Parties may dispute the designated executor and request a county administrator or other neutral third party take over the estate instead.

What is a Probate Bond?

A probate bond is a financial guarantee that acts like an insurance policy. It’s required by law during the administration of an estate. It’s a promise by the administrator that they’ll follow their duty properly. A probate bond also acts as an indicator of credibility and reliability for the administrator. If they can’t secure a bond, you may need to consider a different administrator.

What Makes a Good Estate Administrator?

Estate matters can become heated quickly, especially if there are high-value assets waiting to be distributed. Finding someone to oversee the estate is crucial, especially because of the probate deadlines. When you’re searching for someone to administer the estate, you can either request that the court appoint a representative or propose someone for the beneficiaries’ consideration.

When you’re evaluating administrators, it’s critical you judge their ability to be impartial, neutral, and fair. Finding someone with knowledge of Georgia’s probate laws and experience valuating real estate and other property is key. A probate attorney with experience handling estates could benefit your family.

Call Us Today for Your Estate Administration Needs

If your loved one dies without a will or you want help administering their estate, you do not need to face the probate process alone. The Wilbanks Law Firm has helped clients like you in situations like yours. Attorney Dylan Wilbanks understands the stress and anxiety that the probate process can cause, especially if you are at odds with your family.

Let the Wilbanks Law Firm help you administer the estate. Dylan has years of experience as a probate lawyer and serves as the Jackson County county administrator. He is someone the probate court turns to when impartiality, decisiveness, and effective solutions are needed.

Call (706) 510-0000 or use our online form to schedule your consultation.