Do we need to go through the probate process?

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Do we need to go through the probate process?

My father recently passed away and my brother and I need to know if we have to go through the probate process. At the time of my father’s death he owned no real estate, and has approximately $22,000 in a checking and savings account. He also had a few household items (computer, tablet, TV, stereo, furniture, etc.). He had an automobile that he was making payments on. That’s everything he owned. Do we need to probate? Is the car considered an asset even though he still owes on it? We’re not sure how to handle the car in the probate process.

Asked on January 11, 2012 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  Everything that you mentioned here is part of his estate.  The car too even though he had a loan on it.  It would be the same as a house that had a mortgage.  It appears that your father's estate may qualify as a small estate for probate.  That means that you can go to the probate court and file either an affidavit or small estate proceeding.  If the checking and savings was not jointly held with any one then some one needs to be given permission by the probate court to have the funds released.  Now, you have to continue to pay the car loan and decide how you want to handle that once the probate is opened.  The assets of the estate can pay the loan or you can sell the car and pay of the loan.  You have to decide. Good luck.


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