A Primer on GA Probate Court
The Probate Court system in Georgia is in place to take care of clerical matters regarding estate planning, inheritance, the probate of wills, and issue marriage licenses and firearms. Its purpose is to ensure efficiency in non-criminal legal matters that mainly involve filing paperwork. All necessary GA probate court forms are available online so that residents can have everything filled out and ready to file when they arrive. Moreover, they can also contact the chief clerk for this.
Georgia probate judges are there to ensure that estates are settled legally, especially in cases where there is no will. When someone dies, their estate is transferred to the probate court, and an executor oversees the distribution of assets. Executors are usually family members, but they can be anyone over the age of 18 who is determined to be trustworthy and objective.
The probate judge determines the validity of wills and ensures that all relevant parties have been duly notified of a death and are present for settling the estate. The executor oversees the fair distribution of assets and sees that creditors are paid.
Moreover, the judges of the Probate court can hold habeas corpus hearings or preliminary criminal hearings to hear the charges and the case.
Not all estates need to go through probate, and some assets, like homes with a joint tenancy, are automatically passed to the appropriate heir. An estate planning specialist, such as Paul Black from The Law Office of Paul Black L.L.C, can help.
What Are Georgia Probate Court Rules
There is a set of complex probate court rules, as there are in other court systems. These rules are outlined in the UNIFORM PROBATE COURT RULES provided by the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia.
One of the main probate courts’ rules in Georgia is that an executor or an attorney hired by the estate will work with the probate court. A probate court in Georgia may appoint an executor if there’s absolutely no executor or the executor can’t or will not function, according to the Official Code of Georgia section 53-6-20. The court may also appoint a guardian for the deceased’s children who were left without a parent. The deceased person may have named a guardian in his or her will, but if there is no guardian or the named guardian can’t or won’t take the children, the court will step in.
A second critical GA probate court rule is that one of two forms of probate must be chosen. Solemn form probate requires that the executor give notice to everybody who might have an interest in the will, and it becomes binding when the property is closed. Common form probate doesn’t need any notice sent following the naming of the executor, but it doesn’t become binding for up to four years. This provides parties in the court probate process a chance to contest the decision.
Other GA Probate Court Related Rules
Another rule of the probate court offices relates to the deceased person’s safe deposit box. Any person may file a Petition to Enter Safe Deposit Box with the county probate court when they believe that the deceased’s will may be in the individual’s safe deposit box. This must happen before probate starts.
If the request is granted, the safe deposit box may be opened by the bank. The bank must record any will and give it to the probate court, and they must give any insurance policies directly to the beneficiaries. Until the probate court appoints an executor, everything else stays in the safe deposit box.
There are quite specific guidelines for filling out Georgia probate forms, as well. Those are outlined here by the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia. To determine which forms are necessary depending on the specific circumstance, an attorney from The Law Office of Paul Black L.L.C. can offer a piece of legal advice.
Georgia Probate Laws and Succession
The portion of Georgia state law that governs probate and estate matters is Georgia Code Title 53. Wills, Trusts, and Administration of Estates § 53-2-1. This code outlines legal terminology used in Georgia probate matters and lines of succession for inheritance.
According to Georgia law, half-siblings who are children of the decedent are considered equal in matters of inheritance, as are children born after the decedent’s death but conceived prior.
Spouses are first in line to inherit and cannot be disinherited under Georgia law. All other assets outside of the first $200,00 of net estate value plus 3/4 of the remaining assets go to children, parents, siblings, and other relatives, in that order.
Georgia has no separate estate tax. For questions about a Georgia estate matter, talk to an attorney at the Law Office of Paul Black.
Note: If you are going to visit the supreme court or county probate court, make sure you follow safety measures in accordance with the current situation. According to the guidance of the Georgia Department of Public Health, about the current situation, you have to make sure to wear a mask and maintain social distance while in the courthouse. If possible, deal with your concerns via an online portal.