Your Guide to Understanding the Clarke County Probate Court

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The Athens-Clarke County Probate Court handles a range of legal matters, including guardianships, estate cases, and trusts. Learn more here from a Georgia estate planning lawyer.

Author: Paul Black

Paul’s experience as the son of two parents with big health challenges is what led him to the work he does today and gives him first-hand knowledge of the challenges that many caregivers and family members face. After graduation from GSU Law, Paul was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide as one of three 2010-2011 Borchard Foundation Law & Aging Fellows. Paul has been named as  a SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Estate Planning and as a member of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Published on: May 23, 2019. Last updated on: July 13, 2019.

Clarke County Probate Court: General Information

Clarke County Probate Court General Information

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The Court of Probate of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, deals with guardianships of minors and incapacitated adults, cases including decedent’s estates, and mental health assessments and/or treatment, along with other various kinds of cases such as birth certificate changes, boundary line conflicts, and specific cases regarding trusts. Applications for marriage and weapons carry licenses are also processed in this court. 

The Athens-Clarke County Probate Court likewise keeps an eye on the handling of funds by many fiduciaries; for instance, conservators of the property of a minor or incapacitated adult and any estate administrators who haven’t been relieved by the beneficiaries of accounting to the court. This court does not deal with traffic cases or probation for criminal sentences.

The Probate Court of Athens-Clarke County’s physical address is 325 East Washington Street, Suite 215, Athens, GA 30601. It’s on the second floor of the Clarke County Courthouse, and it has two entrances available for public use. Court offices are open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM, except for federal and county holidays. You can contact the court by phone (706-613-3320), and the court’s fax number is 706-613-3323. 

If you need legal assistance with this court, contact The Law Office of Paul Black. We can handle any probate issue, and we’re dedicated to serving as your trusted legal advocate at all stages of the process.

Clarke County GA Probate Court Records

The Court Of Probate of Athens-Clarke County is an Article 6 Court Of Probate. Under Article 6, which applies in counties with a population of 96,000 or more, the probate judge has to be a licensed lawyer with qualifications and experience equivalent to those for serving in the Superior Courts of Georgia. 

According to Georgia Code, an Article 6 Court Of Probate has expanded or enhanced jurisdiction. These courts may perform jury trials in issues before the court, and appeals from these courts are directed to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.

Estate and guardianship records, Letters of Administration, marriage records as well as will records are just some of the records that can be found in the Probate Court of Clarke County.

It’s preferred to use the standard form for all proceedings for which Georgia Probate Court Standard Form (GPCSF) exists. In addition, the appropriate form has to be fully completed. For example, when it comes to probate documents and the listing of heirs of the deceased, complete information has to be included. The fillable PDF files with instructions can be found on the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia website. 

Every pleading or filed document has to be typed, printed, or legibly hand-written in black ink on a white paper, suitable for reproduction. Illegible documents will not be accepted. However, that doesn’t apply to original documents such as wills, which can be in a different format.

Qualified estate planning lawyers like those you can find at The Law Office of Paul Black will ensure the Georgia probate forms you need are correctly filled out and filed. 

Clarke County Probate Court Athens GA and Types of Guardianships

Clarke County Probate Court Athens GA and Types of Guardianships

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The Athens-Clarke County Probate Court also deals with guardianships of individuals who aren’t able to care for themselves and conservatorships of the property of those who aren’t able to manage their own affairs. 

The Probate Court of Clarke County also handles minor guardianship cases in the following types of cases:

  • Temporary guardianship when a child is younger than 18 if one or both parents are still alive
  • Guardianship of an individual until the minor reaches 18 if their parents are deceased
  • Conservatorship of the property of a minor until he or she reaches 18 in case the property is valued at $15,000 or more and the minor will receive it through inheritance or life insurance benefits
  • Filing notice of a standby guardianship created by the advance directive of a parent

Appointing a guardian of the person or conservatorship of property of a minor child or an incapacitated adult can be among the most sensitive and difficult proceedings handled in the  Probate Court of Athens-Clarke County.

It is expected that legal counselors prepare accordingly, as well as to be familiar with the  Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct regarding that practice area. An attorney with the right experience like Paul Black can provide crucial advice regarding any guardianship or conservatorship needs. Schedule a free initial 15-minute phone call at 404-410-6820.

Understanding County Probate Court Procedures

If a person dies with no will, the Probate Court will most likely appoint an administrator to handle the property. In case a descendent dies without leaving a will, there are several options available, including: 

  1. Permanent Administration
  2. Temporary Administration
  3. No Administration Necessary

In order to have an administrator appointed, you can use a Petition for Letters of Administration. The standard forms are available at the courthouse or online through the Georgia Probate Courts. If the decedent has a spouse or minor children, they can file for a year’s support. After paying all debts, the administrator can distribute the property to the beneficiaries. 

Even if an individual dies with a will, the person in possession of the will has to bring it to the court for filing, and the executor can offer the will for probate. In order to do that, the executor can file a Petition to Probate Will in Solemn Form. All possible heirs of the deceased’s estate have to be notified. In addition, if the will doesn’t have a self-proving affidavit, Interrogatories to Witness to Will has to be filed and filled out by witnesses to the will.

Certain fees have to be paid upon filing petitions with the Court. The Probate Court accepts money orders, cash, or personal checks made payable to Probate Court.

Fees payable to Probate Court consist of:

  • $159.50 filing fee
  • $2.00 per filed page
  • $10.00 per certified copy of Letters of Administration

There is also an additional payment of $80 to the Athens Banner-Herald if notice in the newspaper is requested.

If the probate process seems complex and confusing, make sure to contact a skillful lawyer who can help you navigate the process efficiently. Georgia estate law attorney Paul Black’s expertise with the probate process is invaluable when you are dealing with uncontested probate issues.

Understanding County Probate Court Procedures

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Do You Need Help from a Lawyer When Navigating the Clarke County Probate Court?

How Can Clarke County Probate Court Staff Help You and Do You Need Help from a Lawyer

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If you need help regarding the Probate Court of Clarke County, its forms or records, you can contact the clerks or the court’s staff. However, have in mind that they are only permitted to assist you with certain actions, including giving information from your case file, answering questions about how the court works, giving you blank Probate Court forms, and offering general guidance on how you should complete them. They cannot give you legal advice, tell you what to do, recommend an attorney, or advise you if you should file a certain petition or not. 

Judges of the Probate Court of Clarke County are not allowed to discuss the case with parties involved unless all parties or counsel are present. In addition, individuals involved in the case shouldn’t try to communicate with the judge regarding a potentially pending issue. 

Therefore, if you have any questions about your case at the Clarke County Probate Court, the best thing you can do is reach out to an experienced probate court lawyer who is intimately familiar with the Athens-Clarke County Probate Court like Paul Black. Let him and his team guide you and your family through the probate process efficiently and compassionately. Contact us today to get started.

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