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Estate Administration

We are prepared to provide you with quality representation in estate administration matters in North Georgia. At Durden & Mills, P.C., we bring competence, experience and diligence to each of our client’s estate issues.

Probate is the legal process by which a person’s will is validated by the probate court and then administered according to the terms of the will or as required by law. As our past clients will attest, we are here to assist you with complex and unexpected probates issue that may arise during this process. The provisions of a will, or state statutes in the absence of a will, usually determine how an individual’s debts are paid and assets are distributed upon his or her death. Estate administration includes the probate process as well as non-probate transfers of the deceased’s assets, such as life insurance, annuities, qualified plans, and trust assets and compliance with applicable estate tax requirements.

As your estate administration attorney, we offer our assistance to the personal representative of the estate in the gathering, valuation, accounting and distribution of a decedent’s assets. We will also assist in preparing federal and state estate tax returns and locate any other relevant documents to release liens on a decedent’s real estate. You can rest assured that all steps will be properly and thoroughly taken to abide by the decedent’s intents in accordance with the law.

Whether we are needed to help probate a will or handle an intestate estate (i.e., the estate of someone who died without a valid will), we are always willing to help with any estate regardless of its size. We also are prepared to represent clients facing contested wills and estate litigation.

Will Disputes

At Durden & Mills, P.C., we represent clients in probate and trust litigation in the probate courts throughout Georgia. Whether your concern involves a family member under undue influence or a testator who lacked capacity when signing a will or trust, we are ready to represent you. If you are a personal representative or executor, you have a duty to defend the decedent’s will. As a trustee, you must defend the trust. In each of these instances, it is critical to work with an attorney with experience in such sensitive matters and a lawyer with extensive trial experience to assure the best representation.

There are several grounds which will support a will contest. If requested, the attorneys at Durden & Mills, P.C. will review your case to evaluate the merits of each potential ground for contesting a will:

  • History of the estate plan: How long has the will been in existence? If changes were made, when were they made and why? What were the provisions of earlier wills?
  • Undue influence: Is it possible that someone improperly encouraged your family member to change a will to gain an advantage?
  • Lack of capacity: Did your family member have the mental acuity to understand the nature and extent of their holdings and the impact of decisions regarding the disposition of their estate? Was the testator on medications or in recovery from surgery?

Administrator, Executor or Trustee Misconduct

Estate planning often involves trusts, wills, living wills, powers of attorney, guardianships and other legal devices aimed at end-of-life decisions and providing for beneficiaries. Sometimes, those who are responsible for trust administration, guardianship or other financial duties betray the trust placed in them by their loved ones. At that point, an attorney may be needed to hold those parties responsible.

If you are looking for an attorney who believes that there are important fights worth fighting and wrongs worth righting, contact Durden & Mills, P.C. today.

Fiduciary Misconduct Warning Signs

  • We have resolved numerous cases in which a court determined that a fiduciary committed fiduciary misconduct. Based on our experience, there are a few warning signs of fiduciary misconduct that should serve as triggers to contact an attorney to investigate the matter:
    Does the fiduciary refuse to settle the estate after years have gone by since the death of the decedent?
  • Does your fiduciary refuse to give you a detailed, line-by-line accounting of a trust’s or estate’s finances?
  • Even though you’re not spending the trust or depleting it, does the trustee tell you “there are not enough funds” available to you?
  • Does your fiduciary show signs of newly acquired wealth such as a new car, boat or other major purchase?
  • Does your fiduciary tell you not to bother reading the financial statements because “they’re too complicated to bother with”?
  • Does the fiduciary commingle the assets of the deceased or incapacitated adult with their own personal assets?
  • Is there something else about a fiduciary’s conduct that just doesn’t seem right under the circumstances?

If you suspect that a fiduciary is committing fraud in connection with the administration of a trust or estate, please contact Durden & Mills, P.C. for a free consultation. If the finances are in order, no harm is done. If an attorney and CPA determine that there has been a breach of fiduciary duty, however, then there are financial and legal remedies we can pursue on your behalf.

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