Frequently Asked Questions

Fiduciary, Wills & Estates

• When someone dies, how do you determine what happens to his or her property?

In Georgia, the disposition of a deceased person’s property is determined by a set of laws called the probate code.

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• What does it mean to die intestate?

If a person dies without a will he or she dies “intestate” and there is a specific statute that governs how his or her property is to be distributed.

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• What does it mean to die testate?

If a person dies leaving a valid will, he or she dies “testate” and the provisions of the will determine how his or her property is to be distributed after the will has been admitted to probate by the probate court.

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• What does probate mean?

Probate means proof and generally refers to proving the validity of a will.

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• What is a probate court?

In Georgia if someone wants to object to a will offered for probate, he or she files a caveat or objection to the will and the litigation that results is called a will contest.

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• What is a will contest?

In Georgia if someone wants to object to a will offered for probate, he or she files a caveat or objection to the will and the litigation that results is called a will contest.

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• What are some grounds for a will contest?

The typical grounds for a will contest include a lack of capacity to execute the will, undue influence, fraud, revocation of the will and improper execution of the will.

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• What is a personal representative?

A personal representative is a general term that refers to both executors and administrators of estates.

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• What is an executor?

An executor is appointed to represent an estate under a valid will.

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• What is an administrator?

An administrator is appointed to represent an estate when there is no will.

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• When is a guardian appointed for an incapacitated adult?

A guardian is appointed when an adult lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions concerning his or her health and safety.

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• When is a conservator appointed for an incapacitated adult?

A conservator is appointed when an adult lacks sufficient capacity to make or communicate significant responsible decisions concerning the management of his or her property.

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• What is a fiduciary duty?

A fiduciary duty is a duty imposed by law to act for someone else’s benefit and requires the one who has the duty to act with utmost good faith and loyalty towards that person.

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• What is a trust?

A trust is a legal entity that holds property created by an individual for the benefit of designated beneficiaries.

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• What is a trustee?

A trustee is a person who holds property in trust for the benefit of beneficiaries and he or she owes a fiduciary duty of utmost good faith and loyalty to those beneficiaries.

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• What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney is a legal document where one person appoints another to act as his or her agent and gives that person authority to take certain actions on his or her behalf. The agent owes a fiduciary duty to the person creating the power of attorney.

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