Georgia Probate Laws

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Georgia Probate Laws mandate how many issues of the estate are handled, both in terms of living wills and trusts as well as after someone’s passing.

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: June 03, 2020. Last updated on: June 17, 2020.

Georgia Probate Laws Can Protect Your Estate

Georgia Probate Laws section

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In Georgia, probate is an elegant term for the legal procedure that happens after an individual referred to as decedent passes away. It usually includes going to court to see whether there is a legitimate will, designating an individual or personal representative. If there is no will, the Georgia probate court will appoint an administrator of the estate.

The personal representative is also called an executor. She or he has a duty to collect any possessions, pay any financial obligations the decedent might have, and distribute any remaining assets that are left. They also have to file final state and federal income tax returns for the decedent. In case the taxable estate is substantial, a federal estate tax return may be required. The personal representative can distribute estate assets after debts and taxes are paid. The surviving spouse or close family member of the deceased person is usually the one who will be appointed to do that.

If a deceased person had a will, the executor would follow the decedent’s wishes. If an individual passed away without a will, the court would divide the probate assets between the successors based upon Probate laws. The Probate Court in Georgia will also determine how to resolve other affairs of the decedent.

If the deceased person had no children, the surviving spouse is the sole heir by Georgia law. However, “If the decedent is also survived by any child or other descendant, the spouse shall share equally with the children, with the descendants of any deceased child taking that child’s share, per stirpes; provided, however, that the spouse’s portion shall not be less than a one-third share.”


Dealing with GA Probate Laws

It’s important to know that not every estate has to go through probate. Although it’s sometimes possible to avoid probate, usually it’s required if the deceased person owned assets in her or his name alone. In addition, certain assets have to go through probate. These assets include real estate owned by the decedent individually, tangible assets such as vehicles or jewelry, as well as bank accounts with no beneficiary designation.

However, other assets can often be transferred to their brand-new owners without probate. Typical assets that do not require probate are, for instance:

  • Possessions the departed individual owned in joint occupancy. These pass immediately to the surviving spouse or another owner.
  • Life insurance policies or pension benefits that are payable to a named beneficiary.
  • Assets like retirement accounts where the beneficiaries have been appointed outside of the will.

When your loved one dies, the last thing you want to think about is the process of probating a will or estate in Georgia. If you need any legal advice regarding probating a will or estate or wish to discuss your particular case, retain the services of an experienced law firm and lawyers, such as those found at the Law Office of Paul Black.

Georgia Probate Law: How to Deal With Creditor Claims?

Georgia Law regarding probate states that before distributing assets to heirs and beneficiaries, the creditors and debts of the estate have to be paid. However, with proper estate planning, as well as filling certain documents with the Probate Court in GA, the estate may be able to go around creditor claims.

After 60 days of being appointed as a personal representative of the estate, he or she has to publish a notice of the probate proceedings. That way, creditors will be notified. Although they have three months to file a formal claim to the estate, most creditors just send bills to the decedent’s address.

If there is a will, some of the most common ways of probate in Georgia are Solemn Form Probate, used when all the heirs are known, and Common Form Probate, when possible heirs are unknown.


GA Probate Law and the Six-Month Lender Claim Hold

When Georgia courts select an executor or administrator to handle the estate, Georgia law immediately puts a six-month hold on all lender claims. That hold is the same for all creditors other than those who hold a home mortgage, vehicle loans, or security interests on the estate. These creditors can still request the claims if the estate doesn’t make timely payments.

Georgia probate law offers this six-month period for two reasons. Families typically require time to grieve as well as get a clear picture of the financial matters of the estate. In addition, probate law aims to create an organized procedure, in which creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries are paid in a particular order.

If there’s insufficient cash in the estate to pay all financial obligations, the estate’s executor should rely on state law, which focuses on claims. First, the family gets paid. The surviving spouse and children under 18 are entitled to a year’s assistance. After that come funeral service expenditures, expenses of probate, costs of the last disease, and taxes, in that order.

If you need help with maximizing the amount of property that will stay in the estate, it’s a good idea to contact The Law Office of Paul Black. Our law firm will help you protect your estate and your legal rights. We can provide you free initial 15-minute phone calls regarding your case.

Georgia Probate Code: What Is the Time Limit for Probate?

Georgia Probate Code

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Probating an estate in Georgia normally lasts from about 6 months to a year. The time limit depends upon how fast the process of probating was started, and how precise the will is. The time limit for Georgia probate differs a little by county.

The will is processed in the local Probate Court of the county where the deceased was living at the time of death. In identifying your time frame for probating a specific will or estate, you must learn that particular county’s guidelines.

Probate laws in Georgia can be tricky. That’s why it is crucial to retain a lawyer who knows these laws well and has significant expertise in estate law. Paul Black is an estate law expert, and he can provide you with legal advice or help clarify many terms and processes.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help You with Probate Laws in Georgia

Probating a will or estate in Georgia is not expensive like in some other U.S. states. Court costs are typically around $500. The fees must be paid when the petition is filed with the Probate Court Georgia. By paying as soon as possible, you will make sure you don’t delay the probate process.

During probate, you may also incur attorney fees, financial advisor fees, and other costs. However, working with experts can help ensure that everything runs smoothly and is settled.


Probate Law in Georgia: What Are Probate Court Forms?

In order to begin the procedure of probating the will, the personal representative needs to submit the initially signed will and a Petition to probate a will. If the will has a self-proving affidavit, a sworn declaration signed by the deceased person and witnesses, that shows the credibility of the will, it will help speed up the process. If it doesn’t, the petitioner needs to submit another form as well as the responses to the interrogatories to the will.

When the personal representative of the estate has paid all financial obligations, submitted the needed income tax return, and distributed all the estate possessions, he or she needs to submit a Petition for Discharge with the court. By doing that, they are petitioning to be officially relieved of these responsibilities. If the court establishes that all the tasks are completed, the discharge will be approved. This closes the estate and releases him or her from any liability.

Some Georgia probate matters can be handled by using Georgia probate court forms that can be found online. Although you have access to these forms, that doesn’t mean that you understand them correctly. Hiring an attorney in Georgia probate law cases is recommended. Attorneys can offer you legal help regarding your inheritance and the necessary steps that have to be taken.

When dealing with probate in Georgia, it is best to retain the services of a reputable law firm and an attorney like Paul Black, who can help you distribute assets, pay estate taxes, and manage the debts of the estate.

Probate Laws in Georgia

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Georgia Probate Law Small Estate Simplified Procedure

Georgia Probate Law Small Estate

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The State of Georgia actually has an uncomplicated probate procedure for small estates. You can use this legal process in Georgia if a person dies without a will, but the estate has no financial obligations, and all lawfully entitled heirs agree on how to divide the estate.

If that is the case, an executor needs to submit a petition to the local GA Probate Court asking to use the simplified procedure. The petition needs to consist of the name and the deceased person’s address, in addition to the name, ages, and addresses of the heirs of the departed individual. It likewise needs to include a description of the estate and a declaration that the estate owes no financial obligations, and that all of the successors settle on how to divide the residential or commercial property.

Each beneficiary should sign the petition and have their signature notarized. The court submits a copy of the petition in the county where real estate lies that no administration was needed.

If you need help to determine if the estate qualifies for this simplified procedure, you have to reach out to a lawyer who is well experienced in probate matters and who is a Georgia estate planning professional like Paul Black. Timely and proper management of all estate-related issues can help you avoid probate.

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