What Are the Responsibilities of an Executor of a Will in Georgia?

By A.L. Kennedy

The executor of a will in Georgia is officially known as the "personal representative," according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges. The personal representative must fulfill certain responsibilities under Georgia law when he seeks to distribute a deceased person's estate. Since the probate judge who will be supervising your work as a personal representative cannot give advice, the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges recommends to consult an attorney if you need help fulfilling the responsibilities of executing a will in Georgia.

Gathering Assets

One of the first responsibilities of a personal representative is to gather, inventory and take possession of all the assets that belong to the estate. How to take possession of a certain asset depends on what kind of asset it is. For instance, you may gather and take possession of a deceased person's house and furniture simply by ensuring that the premises are secure, according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges. Also ensure that you are receiving all of the decedent's mail, since as personal representative, you are responsible for paying any bills the estate still owes.

Paying Debts

Once you know what assets the estate has and what they are worth, your next duty as a personal representative in Georgia is to pay the debts of the estate and the expenses of administering it, according to Official Code of Georgia section 53-7-7. These debts include funeral and burial expenses, any taxes still due and support payments to the family. You must provide notice to the estate's creditors that the deceased person has passed no more than 60 days after the death, according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges.

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Filing Tax Returns

The personal representative is responsible for filing the estate's final tax returns and paying any taxes due, according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges. If you fail to complete the estate's tax work, you may be personally liable for the amount of any unpaid taxes on the estate, according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges. Since the amount of taxes due may depend on the deceased person's use of other estate planning mechanisms like trusts or insurance policies, the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges recommends to seek the advice of an attorney, tax professional or both.

Distributing the Estate

Once all debts, taxes and costs of administering the estate are paid, you must distribute the remaining assets in the estate to the beneficiaries listed in the will, according to Title 53, Section 7, Article 6 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. If the beneficiaries disagree on how the property should be distributed, you may consult an attorney and pay the costs of doing so from the estate's assets, according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges.

Filing Probate Court Paperwork

A personal representative in Georgia is required to file certain forms and other paperwork with the probate court. For instance, you must file an inventory of the estate's assets within six months of being named personal representative. You must also file a final accounting within 60 days of finishing the distribution of the estate, showing which assets went to which beneficiaries, according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges.

Closing the Estate

You have the responsibility of closing the estate once all the assets have been distributed and any disagreements among the beneficiaries have been settled. You do this by filing a Petition for Discharge with the probate court, according to the Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges. Once the probate court is satisfied that the proper paperwork has been filed and the estate's business is finished, it will release you from your duties as a personal representative.

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