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Not having a will can complicate probate for loved ones

Though having an estate plan offers many benefits to the estate owner and his or her family members, not every Georgia resident takes the time to create a plan. As a result, after the person’s passing, surviving loved ones may struggle to decide what the decedent may have wanted and how state laws will affect who gets what. Often, not having a will can cause unnecessary complications.

If individuals do not create an estate plan, it is likely that their family members may not know everything about the remaining assets. In some cases, this could mean that a person had a bank account that loved ones did not know about, and if they do not know it exists, they cannot contact the bank to close the account. Typically, this results in the bank later closing the account due to inactivity and giving the money to the state, meaning the family may miss out on those funds.

If family members do know that a bank account exists, the person appointed as personal representative can contact the bank to provide notice of the accountholder’s passing. The representative will then use the funds in the account to pay remaining debts, if necessary, and then pass the remaining funds on to next of kin in accordance with intestate succession laws — all handled under the supervision of the probate court. These laws differ from state to state, but immediate family, such as a spouse or children, usually are first in line to receive assets.

While closing an estate can certainly be done without having a will to follow, it can be more difficult on surviving loved ones. As a result, Georgia residents may want to consider starting their plans sooner rather than later. Of course, if families are already trying to navigate this situation without instructions from their loved one, they may wish to contact legal professionals for assistance.

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