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If you've been reading at all, you know that the improvement in generative AI tools, like ChatGPT v.4, have made it possible now to get work done more quickly than ever, especially in knowledge fields like law.

This is great news for consumers because now they can use ChatGPT as a probate assistant when dealing with transferring the property of a loved one when someone dies in their state.

This article will show you how to effectively use AI tools like ChatGPT, Google Bard, and Claude.ai to help you through the probate process in your state.

Let's get started.

Getting Started

Ask, "What would a probate lawyer ask?" And why? And provide relevant citations, please

You may be shocked to find how simple it is to start using ChatGPT as a probate assistant.

Here are four powerful prompts that can give you a ton of information about handling probate where you live.

Prompt #1.
What are some questions that a Georgia Probate lawyer would ask of someone whose loved one had died?

Try it yourself. Click on the above text to copy it and and then click on one of the sources below and enter it into the prompt box. 

Generative AI Tools to try:

  • ChatGPT4 - the most powerful AI tool you can use, but it costs $20 a month. But it's worth it if you must do legal research that has to be right.
  • Google bard - useful for getting up-to-date information like locations of offices and current fees
  • Claude.ai - a competitor to open.ai. A public benefit corporation trying to make AI tools that won't destroy the planet. We applaud their mission. 

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Gemini Claude.ai
Perplexity.ai

You'll get an answer something like this... (this came from Claude.ai, which isn't even necessarily the strongest possible assistant. Nevertheless, it's a useful list.)

Here are some common questions a Georgia probate lawyer would likely ask when consulting with someone whose loved one has died:

  • Did the deceased have a will? If so, do you have the original copy?
  • Do you know if the deceased owned any real estate, bank accounts, investments, or other assets solely in their name?
  • Was the deceased married at the time of death? If so, do they have any surviving children or other dependents?
  • Who is listed as the executor in the will or who is the next of kin that is in line to serve as administrator of the estate?
  • Do you have a general estimate of the total value of the deceased's assets and personal property?
  • Did the deceased have any outstanding debts, loans, or liabilities?
  • Where was the deceased's primary residence? Did they own real property in any other states?
  • Have you started looking for insurance policies, bank statements, deeds, titles, etc. to help determine assets?
  • Has a probate case been opened with the court yet? If not, do you know which county it will be filed in?
  • Have any beneficiaries made claims on the estate or contested the will yet?
  • Have any actions been taken yet to secure assets like changing locks, closing bank accounts, etc?

The lawyer will want to understand the overall situation to advise on the next steps, requirements, and probate procedures specific to Georgia law that will apply.

source: Claude AI July 19, 2023

PROMPT #2:
Can you write an article explaining the relevance of each question, citing which Georgia laws are relevant to each question?

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Gemini Claude.ai
Perplexity.ai

Here's where it starts to get fun (and blow your mind, frankly).

The answer you'll get will give you citations to Georgia law, which you'll have to check on Google to make sure they are accurate. AI tools can sometimes get these wrong (about 10% of the time).

 

Generative AI Tools to try:

  • ChatGPT4 - the most powerful AI tool you can use, but it costs $20 a month. But it's worth it if you must do legal research that has to be right.
  • Google bard - useful for getting up-to-date information like locations of offices and current fees
  • Claude.ai - a competitor to open.ai. A public benefit corporation trying to make AI tools that won't destroy the planet. We applaud their mission. 

 

But is it true?

Are every one of those citations correct?

At this stage in the development of AI tools, it's always good to check. Claude AI in particular, makes up URLs and case law without hesitation. Google Bard can be better and more current on things like locations of probate courts and links to forms and fees, but sometimes it won't answer certain questions unless you phrase them In a certain way.

One way to check is to ask several AI tools the same question and see if they have the same answers. If they all agree, you're probably getting the real answer, although there are some weak spots.

One thing generative AI often gets wrong: Monetary caps are often indexed for inflation. Ask it to check:

  • AI tools like this often miss that limits on things like small estates are indexed for inflation and change each year. So it's good to ask them to check twice in your state. We did that for Michigan when it incorrectly told us the small estate limit was 15,000. After asking them to check again, it came back with this. 
    • "

      Thanks for catching that! You're absolutely right. I appreciate you clarifying that the small estate limit in Michigan is currently $27,000, not $15,000.

      You're correct that the limit is indexed and changes periodically. I should have double checked the current amount instead of relying on outdated information. Thank you for pointing out that oversight - it will help me provide more accurate information in the future when discussing small estates in Michigan. I'm grateful when someone takes the time to correct me and help improve my knowledge.

       - Claude.ai July 2023
  • When we caught Google bard on the same mistake, and asked "are you sure about the Michigan amount?" it came back with this.
    • "I apologize for the error. The current small estate threshold in Michigan is $27,000. The threshold is adjusted annually for inflation.

      The following table shows the small estate threshold in Michigan for the past few years:

      Year Threshold Amount
      2023 $27,000
      2022 $25,000
      2021 $24,000
      2020 $23,000
      2019 $22,000
      "
      - google bard July 2023

Pretty sweet, eh?

PROMPT #3.
Do all assets go through probate? Are there kinds of assets that pass outside of probate in Georgia? Can you list them? And explain each one. What steps need to be taken to transfer each kind of asset at death? Can you write an article about that?

We ask this prompt because so far all we've been doing is asking about probate and we know that lots of assets don't pass through probate. So this question helps us to start to deal with those other assets.
 
Here's an example of an article that Claude.AI came up with:
 

Here is a draft article discussing assets that can pass outside of probate in:

Passing Outside Probate in Georgia: Non-Probate Assets to Be Aware Of

When a loved one passes away, people often think all their assets must go through the probate process. However, Georgia law allows certain non-probate assets to transfer directly to beneficiaries without probate. Being aware of these can simplify the estate settlement.

Joint Assets with Rights of Survivorship

Accounts or titles held jointly with another person with rights of survivorship automatically pass to the surviving co-owner at death outside of probate. This includes jointly held bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and real estate titles. To claim the assets, the survivor will need to provide a death certificate.

Beneficiary Designations

Assets like life insurance policies or retirement accounts with properly completed beneficiary designations will go directly to those named beneficiaries and sidestep probate. These assets are distributed by the account custodians once they receive a death certificate.

“Transfer on Death” Assets

Vehicles or financial accounts can be titled with “transfer on death” designations. At death, these types of assets will automatically transfer to the named beneficiaries similar to accounts with designated beneficiaries.

Trust Assets

If assets are properly held in and distributed per a trust, they avoid probate. The successor trustee named in the trust can distribute assets directly to beneficiaries as outlined in the trust terms.

Payable on Death Accounts

In Georgia, bank accounts can be designated as “payable on death” to a named beneficiary. These automatically convert to belonging to the beneficiary at the account owner’s death without probate.

Knowing what assets may transfer outside of probate can help simplify administration of an estate. Non-probate transfers do not require court approval or filings. But it is essential that the accounts, titles, and designations are properly completed to achieve this. Consult an attorney to ensure your assets are handled as desired.

Getting help with complex step-by-step procedures, and local information

These AI tools can be quite good at breaking things into steps, and if you ask the question just right, you can get a load of useful information in a very concise way.

For example, try the following prompts for your zip code:

PROMPT #4: 
Where is the Probate Court serving Houston County, Georgia, how much are the fees, and where can I download forms I may need?

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Gemini Claude.ai
Perplexity.ai

This prompt might be best done on Google Bard because it's based on current web data, whereas ChatGPT 4 only goes through 2021 (as of this writing)

PROMPT #5:
What are the steps for transferring real estate after death if someone dies in Houston County, Georgia?

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Gemini Claude.ai
Perplexity.ai

ChatGPT4 is especially good at breaking things into detailed steps and providing citations. 

Some generative AI tools won't venture to try to do this, probably because it failed too often in testing of these kinds of questions.

PROMPT #6:
What are the steps for transferring personal property after death if someone dies in Houston County, Georgia? Are there simple ways to do this without probate in Georgia?

Try this prompt on:
ChatGPT4 Google Gemini Claude.ai
Perplexity.ai

This prompt is designed to determine if there are more efficient ways to transfer a property that is not real estate. Many items, like cars and such, have transfer-on-death designations or may have joint ownership and will not require going through probate. If they do not have such ownership, there may be a simple affidavit that can be used to transfer such property if it's under a certain value.

Conclusion

There are many ways generative AI tools can speed up your research on probate law in Georgia and Houston County. And you should take advantage of these powerful tools that are free to use. The world is changing constantly, and this is one way it's getting better for consumers.

And remember, to see this article written for another jurisdiction, enter any valid zip code!




Jurisdictional relevance: FIPS

There are versions of article for each County.
Selected County: Houston County, Georgia Select Your County or Enter Your Zipcode:


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