Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Georgia

My mother was recently killed in a car accident. She made a will some time ago because she won money playing the lottery. At the time of her death, she had taken out a loan on her house, which is now in foreclosure, plus put the title of her car up for a loan; she had spent all of the lottery money. She left $100 in the bank and basically that is it. Because she had creditor's insurance, the title to her car was released; the car insurance company will pay for the replacement value for the car. Since there were no assets, we did not probate the will. However, the car insurance will not release the check until we probate her estate (which I guess is the car). So now I am confused about what to file; I was told to file temporary letters of administration, letters of administration, or Order Declaring No Administration Necessary. Are either of these the correct petition?

Asked on 3/25/13, 11:37 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

There is a procedure for very small estates. You will need to use this procedure in order to get the money for the car and the funds in the bank account. The order declaring no administration does not make sense. There are probate assets, albeit limited ones. The money would go to pay any probate or funeral expenses.

I don't understand about the car - if there was creditor's insurance and money was still owed on the car, the proceeds should go to the loan company. Otherwise the loan company will take the car. I don't know what the car is worth or how much we are talking about. Was the car destroyed in the car accident? The proceeds would still go to the loan company, I think, but if this was a car title loan, then maybe not. The car loan company could take the car (or what's left of it) and then file a claim for any deficiency owed with the estate. However, you still have the check from the credit insurance and bank account funds.

I think you need to see a local probate attorney who practices in the county/state where your mother lived at the time of her death. The will should be filed with the probate court. And you may be able to use the small estates procedure. Most states have a procedure for handling estates of less than $10,000 (or however a small estate is defined by state law). In Georgia, though, this process appears limited to situations where a person dies without a will. If that is the case, then your only avenue will be to probate the estate.

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Answered on 3/25/13, 11:57 am

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