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The Importance of Keeping Detail Records in Probate For Estate Inventories And Annual Reports

Thompson Mungo Firm Sept. 28, 2022

Probating the estate of a loved one can be a very confusing space to be in, and understand all the statutory requirements regarding inventories and annual reporting. In Georgia, there are reporting requirements for personal representatives, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 53-7-30, a personal representative shall file an inventory with the court within six months of their appointment and an annual report each year after they have been appointed, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 53-7-67. It is important to note that these requirements may be waived by the heirs or even by the testator or will maker, but if they have not been waived, then the personal representative will have to comply with these requirements.

What is an estate inventory?

An estate inventory is a document that informs the court of the identified assets in the possession. The items listed will then form the basis for determining the value of your estate. The personal representative will determine and report the accurate market value of each possession.

Assets that need to be in the estate inventory:

  1. Real Estate

  2. Bank Accounts

  3. Stocks, Bonds, and Other Securities

  4. Vehicles

  5. Other Personal Belongings

 What is Annual Return?

The Annual Return is a record of all estate receipts and expenditures. The reporting of received assets and expenses incurred must be comprehensive and accurately itemized. The proof of all receipts and expenditures must be maintained.

The personal representative must file an annual return no longer than 60 days after the first anniversary of the appointment and every year after that until the estate is closed. If these reports are not submitted on time, the personal representative may not be eligible to receive a commission.

The annual returns report reflects the following: 

  1. Funds expended. Spent money on settling the estate

  2.  Disbursements. Assets that are given to an heir or a beneficiary

  3. Payments made to creditors

The Importance of Keeping Detailed Records

Here is why we need to be detailed in our records.

  1. The probate process will be easier to handle, faster, and more accurate.

  2. The estate beneficiaries and the personal representative have transparency in the estate value and assets.  

  3. Details not provided can have serious repercussions for the heirs and personal representatives.

  4. It will save the estate's representative from a potential breach of their fiduciary duty.

Keeping an error-free and detailed record can be challenging, but the extra time and money spent on accurate record keeping will be worth it in the end. An estate inventory and its accurate annual return are required by law in Georgia. If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact an attorney at Thompson Mungo Firm.