In Georgia, a will usually needs to go through the probate process unless the assets that are passed by the will fall under the small estate threshold. Probate may be required even in this case if the will is challenged by a family member.
If a person dies without a will, this is called dying intestate. When this happens, the state determines what will happen to the person’s assets. Probate is necessary to determine who the beneficiaries will be and the order in which they will inherit various assets based on state law. This may not be what the person would have chosen, and this is one reason it is important for people to create a will.
During this process, the court will have to determine what the assets are and what they are worth. They will then be distributed among beneficiaries and creditors. If the assets include any titles to property, these will be distributed during the probate process as well.
Estate planning is important even when a person has few assets to ensure that those assets go to beneficiaries as intended. A will is also important if a person has minor children because it can name guardians for those children. Otherwise, the family might have to go through an expensive court process to determine who will be their guardian.
Some people may want to make a trust their main estate planning document instead of a will. A trust can have several advantages over a will. It keeps the estate plan private and skips probate. Assets will pass directly to individuals. A trust can also offer more protection for assets and allow more control over how and when the assets are distributed. Some people also create what is called a “pour-over will,” which places any remaining assets in the trust on a person’s death.