What Is Probate Court?
It’s never too early to start planning for your family’s future.
If you have questions, I’m here to help. There is no commitment and we provide free initial 15-minute phone calls. We look forward to meeting you.
Generally speaking, probate court determines how to legally resolve the deceased person’s affairs. This includes paying debts and estate taxes and then distributing his/her property to the surviving spouse (when appropriate) and rightful heirs.
When a Georgia resident (or a non-resident who owns property in the state of Georgia) dies, there are several legal proceedings that may be filed at the probate court. These proceedings must be filed only in the county where the deceased resided in Georgia, or where their property is located if the deceased was a non-resident. Each of these has set guidelines, which are usually provided to the petitioner by the Court.
Due to the complexity of the process, it is recommended that you consult the professional expertise of a Georgia probate court or estate law attorney. He can help you arrive at the best option for your situation.
Probate Court Definition
From marriage license applications to involuntary mental health commitments, validation of wills, and administration of estates, county probate court handles a variety of case types. It is also the right legal entity for all cases involving guardianship and conservators for minors or incapacitated adults. It handles Georgia firearms license applications, as well. Though, these can be initiated via the internet.
The court clerk in charge is usually available to answer your inquiries.
Georgia Probate Court Process
In Georgia, most probate court processes involve the following three steps.
- Gathering all the assets of the deceased, including properties, bank account balance, real estate, investments, estate, and money among others.
- Settling all the taxes and debts (if any) owed by the deceased and their estate.
- Distributing the remaining assets among the heirs.
Each step can be approached via different methods depending on whether or not there is a valid will, what the marital status of the deceased was, and what the extent of the estate is. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the process.
The process of probating a will begins when a family member or an executor files a petition to probate a will. A person in possession of the decedent’s will has to file it with the appropriate probate court. A probate court judge will have to determine if the will is valid. That may involve a court hearing, and all heirs and the beneficiaries have to be given a notice. That way they will have an opportunity to object to the will.
If a person dies without a will, his or her assets are distributed to the decedent’s next of kin, who can be determined by the state’s probate law known as intestate succession. Most often, a surviving spouse gets a share of the estate and the decedent’s property, and then other family members including children, parents, grandchildren, and other siblings.
The State of Georgia doesn’t have complicated probate procedures, especially for small estates. In case a person dies without a will, and the estate has no financial obligations, you can use this simplified process, providing all lawfully entitled heirs agree on how to divide the estate. If you need help determining whether the deceased person’s estate qualifies for a simplified probate procedure, contact a lawyer experienced in probate and estate planning matters.