When people pass away in Georgia, whether they have a will or not, their property will pass on to various family members, friends or others. In order for this to occur, in most cases the estate must first go through the probate process. Probate is a court proceeding intended to ensure that the property is given to the appropriate beneficiaries and the estate is settled properly.
The court oversees the probate of the estate, but the work of administering the estate is completed by the personal representative. This is an individual who may be named in the will itself and chosen by the decedent, or appointed by a judge. Once the personal representative has been appointed, they must begin the process of administering the estate.
Responsibilities of a personal representative during probate
The personal representative has a number of responsibilities, which include, but are not limited to:
- Obtaining the death certificate, which will be needed to complete many of the other responsibilities
- Gather the assets of the estate, which may require obtaining property held by others and owed to the estate
- Managing any assets of the estate until they are distributed
- Paying all the creditors of the estate
- After all the debts are paid, distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries named in the will
- Close the estate and the probate process with the court
When people agree to be a personal representative, they may not understand all of their responsibilities. They have a very important job, and it needs to be done correctly. Experienced attorneys understand personal representatives’ responsibilities as well as the probate process and they may be able to guide one through it.