How Probate Works in Georgia: A Complete Guide

How Probate Works in Georgia

Understanding how probate works in Georgia can seem daunting at first glance. 

However, it’s a process designed to ensure that after someone passes away, their:

  • debts are paid
  • assets are distributed according to their wishes (if they left a will
  • assets are distributed according to state laws (if there is not a will

This guide aims to simplify the probate process in Georgia, making it accessible to everyone.

Table of Contents

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What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies, which involves: 

    • proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid
    • identifying and inventorying the deceased person’s property
    • appraising the property
  • paying debts and taxes
  • distributing the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs 

In Georgia, this process is overseen by the probate court.

Read More: Cost Of A Probate Lawyer In Georgia

The Role of Wills in Georgia Probate

A will is a legal document that outlines how a person wants their property distributed after they die. 

If the deceased left a will in Georgia, the probate process also involves confirming its validity

This usually requires a hearing in the probate court, where interested parties can object to the will. 

If the will is deemed valid and there are no successful objections, the process moves forward as the will directs.

When a Will Isn't Present

If there’s no will, Georgia law determines who inherits the assets through “intestate succession.” 

The law prioritizes close relatives:

  • starting with the spouse and children, then;
  • moving outward to more distant relatives if necessary. 

The specifics can get complex, especially with blended families or unique situations.

But the probate court guides this process to its legal conclusion.

The Probate Process in Georgia

The probate process in Georgia begins with someone filing the will and a petition to open probate in the county where the deceased lived. 

This person is usually named in the will as the executor. 

If there’s no will, the court appoints an administrator

The process involves several key steps:

  • Filing a Petition: To start, you must file a petition with the probate court requesting to open the estate. This includes submitting the deceased’s will if there is one.
  • Notifying Heirs and Creditors: Georgia law requires that heirs and creditors be notified of the death, so they have an opportunity to file claims against the estate or contest the will.
  • Inventorying Assets: The executor or administrator must then inventory the deceased’s assets and provide this list to the court.
  • Paying Debts and Taxes: Before distributing assets to heirs, any outstanding debts and taxes must be paid from the estate.
  • Distributing Assets: Finally, whatever is left is distributed to the heirs according to the will or state law.

The Role of the Executor or Administrator

The executor (named in the will) or administrator (appointed by the court if there’s no will) plays a critical role in the probate process. 

This person is responsible for managing the estate through the probate process.

This includes paying any debts and taxes and distributing the assets to the rightful heirs. 

It’s a position that carries legal responsibilities, including acting in the best interests of the estate and its beneficiaries.

Timeframe for Probate in Georgia

The duration of the probate process in Georgia can vary significantly. 

A simple estate might be settled within a few months, while more complex situations could take years

Factors that can extend the process include:

  • the estate’s size
  • whether the will is contested
  • the presence of any disputes among heirs or creditors

Avoiding Probate in Georgia

Not all assets need to go through probate. 

Some assets can be transferred to the new owners without probate court involvement. 

Examples include:

  • Jointly Owned Property: Property owned in joint tenancy automatically passes to the surviving owner(s) without probate.
  • Payable-on-Death Accounts: Certain accounts, like bank accounts and retirement accounts, can be designated to pass directly to a named beneficiary upon the owner’s death.
  • Living Trusts: Property held in a living trust bypasses probate and is transferred to the beneficiaries named in the trust.

Using these tools, many people in Georgia plan their estates to minimize the assets that must go through probate.

This simplifies the process for their heirs.

Talk To A Probate Lawyer Today

If you want help from a probate law firm, fill out the form below. 

At The Hive Law, we understand the importance of:

  • protecting your hard-earned assets 
  • ensuring your family’s future
  • not losing everything to creditors and lawsuits
  • properly (and legally) distributing assets 

We only accommodate a limited number of probate clients each month.

So don’t miss your opportunity to work with our probate lawyers.

Benefits of our probate services:

  • Tailored solutions to fit your unique needs and goals
  • Expert guidance in navigating complex tax and legal matters
  • Preservation of your wealth for future generations
  • Streamlined asset distribution according to your wishes

Avoid the pitfalls of inadequate probate strategies:

  • Creditors seizing your assets
  • Lawsuits jeopardizing your family’s financial security
  • Family disputes over inheritance
  • Costly and time-consuming probate processes

Talk soon.

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