Probate Process In Georgia

Probate Process In Georgia

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This guide is everything you need to know about the probate process. 

From starting the process to closing the estate. 

And all the: 

  • steps you need to take
  • risks you want to avoid

Keep scrolling to learn more.

What is Probate?

Probate is where: 

  • the will gets validated by the courts
  • estate property is inventoried and appraised
  • debts get paid off
  • the property gets distributed to the heirs

The steps of probate in Georgia include: 

  1. Filing the petition. 
  2. Notifying creditors and heirs. 
  3. Inventorying the estate. 
  4. Paying debts and taxes. 
  5. Distributing remaining assets. 
  6. Closing the estate. 

The Role Of The Probate Courts

The probate courts oversee the probate process. 

Their main roles are: 

  • Validating the Will
  • Appointing the Executor or Administrator
  • Overseeing the Estate Administration
  • Resolving Disputes
  • Protecting the Interests of Minors and Dependents
  • Closing the Estate

They make sure the estate gets handled in an organized and legal way. 

This prevents legal conflicts with heirs and creditors.

How They Prove A Will Is Valid

Here is how the Georgia probate courts validate a will: 

  • The executor files the will with the petition for probate. 
  • The executor notifies the interested parties of the will. 
  • The courts make sure the will meets legal requirements
  • For conflicts, the courts will have a hearing for any objections

The requirements for a will to be valid in Georgia are that it has to be: 

  • written on paper
  • signed by the testator
  • signed by a notary
  • signed by two witnesses

If there is a self-proving affidavit, this automatically validates the will.

How To Start The Probate Process in Georgia

These are the exact steps to take to get started with the probate process. 

If you’re overwhelmed, click the button below to have our Georgia probate lawyers handle everything for you. 

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Filing the Will and Death Certificate

If there was a will, find it. 

Wills are generally kept: 

  • in a safe at their home
  • with their estate planning lawyer
  • in a safety deposit box

Here is what you need to file with the courts to get started: 

You must file these papers in the county the deceased person lived in

There will be a probate court filing fee, normally $225-$250.

Appointment of Executor or Administrator

The courts will appoint an: 

  • Administrator: if there is not a will
  • Executor: if there is a will

The people who get priority to be an administrator in Georgia are (in this order): 

  1. spouse
  2. children
  3. parents
  4. other relatives (i.e., aunt, cousin, etc.)

You have to petition the courts to be appointed administrator. 

The courts will notify the heirs (per Georgia intestate laws). 

If there are no objections, this person gets appointed. 

To prove that you are in control of the estate, the courts will give you: 

Your role in managing the estate is: 

  • managing estate assets
  • paying debts and taxes
  • distributing assets to heirs

How To Manage The Estate

Here is a list of things the executor or administrator has to do. 

Managing Estate Assets

The first thing you have to do is find all the assets, like: 

  • bank accounts
  • retirement accounts (i.e., 401k, stocks, HSAs, etc.)
  • real estate
  • personal property (i.e., jewelry, cars, boats, etc.)
  • business or intellectual property

You’ll want to make a list of all these and then get them appraised

You need to: 

  • collect the property you can (i.e., jewelry, cars, etc.)
  • maintain the property (i.e., real estate, rentals, etc.)

Maintaining means that you: 

  • keep paying the bills and taxes
  • keep the insurance

maintain the property

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Paying Debts and Taxes

You are responsible for figuring out what debts the person owed, like:

You are legally obligated to notify all creditors of their passing. 

Then, you pay off all these debts out of the estate. 

Sometimes, this requires you to sell assets for funds. 

For taxes, you have to: 

file tax returns for the estate

Distributing Assets to Heirs

After debts get paid, it’s time to distribute assets to the beneficiaries. 

The assets will get distributed per: 

  • the will (if there was one)
  • intestate laws (if there’s not a will)

To distribute assets, you need to: 

  • Stocks & Bonds: Transfer to beneficiaries’ accounts. 
  • Cash: Transfer it to their bank accounts. 
  • Real Estate: Transfer the title with a quitclaim deed. 
  • Personal Property: Pass them out or sell them and split the money. 
  • 401(k)s and IRAs: These pass directly to the beneficiaries. 
  • Life Insurance: This passes directly to the beneficiaries. 

If there are disputes, you’ll have to attend court to settle them.

Closing the Estate

After you have distributed assets, it’s time to close the estate. 

You’ll need to: 

  • put together the final accounting of all transactions
  • submit these to the court for approval
  • file a petition to close the estate

If the courts approve everything, they will: 

  • relieve you of your duties
  • formally close the estate

Get Help From A Probate Lawyer

Navigating probate can be confusing, overwhelming, and risky

You can be personally liable if you: 

  • don’t notify and pay off all creditors
  • don’t act in the beneficiaries’ best interest

Our Atlanta probate lawyers have done hundreds of probates

We know how to: 

  • handle conflicts between siblings
  • find all debts
  • notify and pay off creditors
  • negotiate with creditors
  • transfer assets 

We take everything off your plate

You should be spending time with loved ones during your loss. 

Not trying to figure out the probate court system. 

Fill out the form to have us handle it for you.

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