Wondering how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney?
This article is going to cover the steps you HAVE to follow.
And gives you all the details your probate attorney wouldn’t.
Along with links to all the resources you need for the probate proceeding.
Let’s dig in.
The steps to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney are:
You’ll need a death certificate to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney.
You can request one online, in person, or by mail.
To do so, fill out Form 3912 on this page and send it to Vital Records.
Finding the will of a deceased person can be a little more challenging.
The first thing you should do is contact their local probate court.
And see if the decedent filed a will with them.
If they did not file a will, then you need to find the executor.
The executor is legally obligated to file the will.
And obligated to notify the named beneficiaries of the probate process.
If you’re unsure who the executor is, the death certificate should name them.
If you still can’t find the will, check places like:
You should also ask family members if there was an estate planning lawyer involved.
They may be holding a copy of the will.
Once you have the will, you need to have it signed by all the heirs.
Then file it with the Petition for Probate.
If an heir won’t sign, file the will anyways.
The probate courts will send a formal notice to the heir.
And give them an opportunity to object to the probate petition.
You can find the Georgia probate instructions here.
You need to file:
These are the ones you need to get started.
But there are dozens of other probate forms you may need to file.
Figuring out how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney can be confusing.
Reach out to our estate planning lawyers to make it easier.
Solemn form is needed if the will was not notarized.
This is because the validity of the will needs to get proven.
Common form is used if the will was notarized.
This is because the validity is proven with a self-proving affidavit.
If you have a holographic will in Georgia, you’re out of luck.
You will have to distribute the estate per intestate laws.
When you file the will, you will need to ask to be appointed as executor.
The Georgia probate courts will issue you Letters of Testamentary.
These are court orders that give you authority to manage the estate.
To probate a will in Georgia without an attorney, you need this authority.
The Georgia probate process includes many forms, like:
These are the easy-to-understand standard forms for probate in Georgia.
There are ones that are tougher to figure out, like:
Now, if you have a simple will in Georgia.
Then figuring out how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney is easier.
But you may be dealing with a more complex estate.
Our law firm can guide you through the probate process in Georgia.
Figuring out how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney gets complicated here.
At the end of probate, you need to file a Form 1041 tax return for the estate.
To do so, you need to have an EIN for the estate.
You can apply for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) on the IRS site.
When someone dies, their probate assets become the estate’s property.
If those assets generate more than $600 of annual income, you need to fill out Form 1041.
And estates have to pay quarterly taxes as individuals do.
You’ll also need the EIN to open your estate accounts.
The estate account organizes and separates the finances for:
You can open an estate bank account at banks like Citibank.
To open an estate bank account, you’ll need to have the:
This is important for how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney.
You are legally obligated under Georgia law to notify heirs and creditors.
This is true even if you have a valid will in the state of Georgia.
You’ll need to send a Notice of Death to the:
You’ll need to cancel services the decedent is paying for, like their:
You won’t know who some of the creditors are.
In this case, you can file a notice in the local newspaper.
Under Georgia probate law, this is sufficient notice.
Petitioning for guardianship is part of probating a will in Georgia without an attorney.
Even if the testator appointed a guardian of a minor child.
Let’s assume that there is a last will and testament that appoints a guardian.
The executor will fill this out on the Petition to Probate the Will.
And the state of Georgia probate courts will appoint them as guardians.
Let’s say the will did not appoint a guardian.
You’ll need to file for either:
Let’s say there is not an appointed guardian.
The Georgia probate courts prefer appointing close family members.
The executor will need to take inventory of the estate assets.
These estate assets include the deceased person’s assets like:
You may have trouble finding all of the deceased person’s assets.
Here’s a guide to finding the remaining assets of an estate.
If you need help, our Atlanta estate planning attorneys can do this for you.
Or, at least, our probate lawyers can give you the legal advice you need.
You’re not going to know who all your family member owed money to.
This is where the Notice of Death in a local newspaper comes into play.
You posting that Notice of Death gives creditors notice under state laws.
You have to post it once a week for four weeks in the state of Georgia.
The normal things your loved one will owe money on are:
Let’s look at the next part of how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney.
The next step in the legal process is to collect funds from the probate assets.
From Step 9, these are things like:
Once you have the monies from these, deposit that money into the estate bank accounts.
To access, transfer funds out of, and close these accounts, you will need:
You only transfer real estate if there is not a surviving spouse to take over it.
Transferring the real estate to designated beneficiaries is essentially a quit claim deed.
Our Atlanta estate planning lawyers can give you a quit claim deed for this.
Once the forms are filled out, file them with the County Clerk’s office.
You’ll need to:
You will pay for the fees from the estate’s bank account.
Let’s say you distribute the estate before paying off creditors.
You could be personally responsible for those debts.
After you publish the Notice of Death, creditors should be reaching out to you.
If they have legitimate claims on the estate, it’s time to pay those off.
The order that you pay things off in order of state laws is:
This is the probate process for distributing assets in Georgia without an attorney.
There are different legal processes for different probate assets.
For monetary distributions, you just pay beneficiaries out of the estate account.
For real estate, you need to quit claim deed the property into their names.
And then make sure the deed gets recorded at the County Clerk’s office.
For personal property, you need a Deed of Distribution.
This gives you evidence of their ownership of the distributed estate assets.
Ask all beneficiaries to sign a receipt and release to prove you distributed assets.
At this point, everyone has been paid and the estate funds have been distributed.
It’s time to submit the estate accounting to the Georgia probate courts.
Let’s say you are figuring out how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney.
You will have to keep up with the accounting and make sure you submit it.
You’ll need this Petition for the Final Settlement and Discharge of Liability form.
The final accounting needs to include:
If you don’t keep track of this accounting, the beneficiaries can contest it.
In the event that the judge sides with them, you could be personally liable for monies.
It’s very important that you get help from either:
Even if you want to probate the will without an attorney in Georgia.
You need to file a tax return for the estate and the testator.
The decedent and the estate are separate tax entities.
You need the testator’s Social Security Number.
And the estate’s Employer Identification Number.
Then you can file Form 1041.
Estates and individuals get taxed the same way.
When you file taxes for the estate, the two kinds of taxes are:
Deductions that individuals have are the same for estates and living trusts.
Estates with a value less than $12.06M are exempt from federal estate taxes.
Once you go past $12.06M, the federal estate taxes get steep.
They go up to 40% of the estate for the amount that’s more than $12.6M.
Assets that get passed to a surviving spouse are not taxed.
This is due to the unlimited marital deduction and joint tenancy.
The state of Georgia does not impose state-level estate taxes.
This is the final step when probating a will in Georgia without an attorney.
You need to file a Petition for Discharge.
This petition asks the Georgia probate courts to release the executor.
It also absolves them of personal liability and settles the estate.
To discharge yourself, you have to show the probate courts that you:
Beneficiaries can file a claim to contest you getting discharged.
With a little work, you can probate a will without in Georgia an attorney.
Fill out the form below if you’d like to have our probate lawyers to:
We see people going the do-it-yourself route all the time.
Reach out to us so that: