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Inevitably, we all die. When it happens, The Law Office of Keith R. Miles, LLC can assist your family members with matters related to your estate administration or trust settlement. Whether you are an executor, trustee, or beneficiary, you may have questions.

What is Probate?

Once a person dies, the estate is submitted to the probate court to ensure a will is valid and oversee administration by an appointed administrator who will inventory assets and distribute property to heirs. Some assets may have already been set up to transfer automatically, such as property owned by joint tenancy or payments to a named beneficiary of an insurance policy.

If there is no valid will, the probate court will appoint an administrator, and the decedent’s property will be distributed according to Georgia or North Carolina’s laws of inheritance. This may not be what you intended.

Many people would rather avoid probate for the following reasons:

  • Probate proceedings make the terms of a will public knowledge.
  • Wills can be challenged or contested by family members and lengthen the process.
  • Probate can be time-consuming, especially for complex estates and when there are will contests. Completing the process can take one to two years.
  • The longer the court process takes, the more legal fees for court appearances and paperwork add up.
  • Beneficiaries have to wait until probate is complete to receive their inheritance.

What is Estate Administration?

Estate Administration is the process of probating an estate, which generally includes collecting, inventorying, and appraising assets; paying and collecting debts; filing and paying estate taxes, and distributing any remaining assets to beneficiaries.

Non-probate assets do not have to go through probate. These assets are typically distributed more quickly to the appropriate beneficiaries and generally include:

  • Property owned in joint tenancy or tenancy by entirety with rights of survivorship
  • Payment on Death (POD) bank accounts
  • Transfer on Death (TOD) securities
  • Life insurance policies that designate a beneficiary other than the decedent’s estate
  • IRAs, 401(k) accounts, and other retirement plans that name a beneficiary other than the decedent’s estate

The Law Office of Keith R. Miles, LLC was founded in 2008 and serves clients throughout Georgia and North Carolina. The firm focuses on holistic legacy planning and elder law for individuals and families – both traditional and “blended.”

Because our clients may have minor children while also caring for aging parents, we handle complex elder law issues such as long-term care planning, Medicaid planning, and special needs planning.

Contact us for a consultation if you are an executor or beneficiary and have questions about your role or rights throughout the process!

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