Where is DeKalb Probate Court Located?
The Dekalb Probate Court is located in the Dekalb County Courthouse at 556 N. McDonough Street, Decatur, Georgia. All petitions relating to the probate of wills and estates are filed at this location. Most petitions require a filing fee to be paid. Please note that the court does not accept bills larger than $20 when you pay your filing fee in person.
Probate court offices are open from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Forms turned in after 4:00 PM will be dated and processed on the following business day.
The court is closed for state and federal holidays. The court may also close for bad weather or other emergencies. To confirm that the court is open before you go, call the Dekalb Probate Court at (404) 371-2601.
DeKalb County Probate Process
Probating an estate in Georgia usually involves these three steps:
- Gathering all the assets of the deceased person’s estate, including money, investments, bank accounts, real estate, and other property.
- Paying off the debts and taxes owed by the estate.
- Distributing the remaining assets to the heirs.
The specific way these steps are accomplished can differ, depending on the size of the estate, whether or not the deceased person was married, and whether or not there is a will.
Georgia Probate When There is a Will
There are four possible types of probate when there is a will:
- Solemn Form Probate:
When the heirs are known and present, this form is used for the immediate conclusion of the estate.
- Common Form Probate:
This is filed by the executor when all heirs are unknown and are inconclusive for up to four years following public notice of a death.
- Probate of Will in Solemn Form/Letters of Administration with Will Annexed:
This type of petition is filed when the executor named in the will is unable or unwilling to carry out the duty, and names a new administrator (usually by agreement of a majority of the heirs).
- Will Filed Not for Probate:
If there is no property to distribute to heirs, the will is filed with the court to create a permanent record, but no probate is carried out. There is no fee for this filing.
Georgia Probate When There is No Will
When a person dies without a will (“intestate”), there are three possible proceedings:
- Permanent Administration:
Notice to all heirs is required. The spouse or sole heir becomes the administrator unless they decline or are disqualified; otherwise, the administrator is chosen by a majority of the heirs.
- Temporary Administration:
Notice to heirs is not required, but heirs may choose an administrator, who compiles the estate inventory. No expenditures or disbursements are made without a court order.
- No Administration Necessary:
If all the estate’s debts are paid, no other administration is needed, and all heirs agree to the division of the estate, this is the form of probate used.
Other Georgia Probate Petitions
There are also petitions that may be filed whether there is a will or not:
- Year’s Support:
Filed on behalf of surviving spouse or minor children to set aside a specified part of the estate for their support, before payment of unsecured debts or any distribution under a will.
- Petition to Enter Safe Deposit Box:
Filed when it is believed that the deceased person’s will is in a safe deposit box. If there is a will, the bank is required to deliver it to the probate court and to deliver any insurance policies to the beneficiaries. Burial instructions and any deeds to burial plots may be removed; all other items remain in the box until an executor or administrator is in place.
The Georgia courts have worked hard to streamline the process to make it easier on grieving families, and it is legal to handle probate without an attorney.
If you choose to go through probate without an attorney, you’re responsible for obtaining information to help you make the right decisions. That mean knowing which forms you need, completing the forms, handling the filing fees, and understanding the possible outcomes of your decisions. Getting it wrong can cost time and money.
The Dekalb County probate office staff and the Dekalb County probate judges are limited by law in the assistance they can provide. They can answer questions about the types of forms, filing deadlines, and fees, but cannot give you any advice on how to proceed. They also cannot complete forms for you or make copies.
The Law Office of Paul Black can advise you during any part of the probate process in Dekalb County. While it is best to handle estate planning and draw up a will ahead of any need, we understand that life can take unexpected turns. Even if you do not have a will, we can assist you with filing the correct Dekalb probate forms.
Georgia Probate Court Records
Probate court does not just determine current estate matters in Dekalb County. Dekalb County probate court records can also assist in tracing the history of a property and its ownership, or recovering copies of wills and other documents for genealogical research.
Copies of birth and death certificates can be obtained through the Vital Records division at the Dekalb County Department of Public Health.
Locating and copying these records may require payment of fees. For information about obtaining older or historic Dekalb County court records, call the Dekalb County Probate Court at (404) 371-2601.