What Has To Go Through Probate In Georgia? (Important Laws You Need To Know)

What Has To Go Through Probate In Georgia

What has to go through probate in Georgia?

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  • what has to go through probate in Georgia
  • what does NOT have to go through probate in Georgia
  • how to avoid probate in Georgia
  • if you can bypass the probate process altogether

Let’s dig in.

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What Has To Go Through Probate In Georgia?

Probate is the process through which a deceased person’s estate is:

  • administered 
  • distributed

In Georgia, the following assets typically have to go through probate:

Assets Solely In The Name Of The Deceased

In this case, we’re focusing on assets that were solely owned by the deceased.

And assets that do not have a:

These assets need to go through probate.

Let’s look at some examples:

  • Real Estate: Imagine the deceased owned a house, and the title is in their name alone. Since the house has no co-owner, beneficiary, or TOD/POD designation, it will have to go through probate.
  • Vehicles: The deceased owned a car, and the car’s title is only in their name. This car will need to go through the probate process before it can be transferred to the heirs or beneficiaries.
  • Bank Accounts: The deceased had a savings account at a local bank, with no joint account holder, designated beneficiary, or POD provision. This account will go through probate to determine who will inherit the money.
  • Investment Accounts: The deceased had an investment account with a brokerage firm, and no beneficiaries or TOD/POD provisions were set up. This account will be subject to probate.
  • Personal Property: The deceased had valuable personal belongings, such as artwork, jewelry, or furniture, with no specific beneficiary or ownership arrangements. These items will go through probate to determine who inherits them.

Assets With No Designated Beneficiaries

Let’s say a person owns assets that allow for the designation of beneficiaries.

They have the option to name someone who will inherit the asset directly upon their death. 

These designations help assets avoid the probate process. 

But, if the deceased failed to name a beneficiary for such assets, they might need to go through probate.

Here are some examples:

  • Life Insurance Policy: Imagine the deceased had a life insurance policy but did not name a beneficiary. Instead of the death benefit being paid directly to a named beneficiary, the money will become part of the deceased’s estate. It will likely need to go through probate before being distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.
  • Retirement Accounts: The deceased had a 401(k) plan or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) but didn’t designate a beneficiary. In this case, the retirement account funds will become part of the deceased’s estate. And it may need to go through probate before being distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries according to the will or Georgia inheritance law if there is no will.
  • Annuities: The deceased had an annuity contract, which is a financial product that provides periodic payments over a specific period or for life. If they didn’t name a beneficiary for the annuity, any remaining payments or death benefits might need to go through probate as part of the deceased’s estate.

Assets With Deceased Beneficiaries

When you name a beneficiary for an asset, you expect that person to:

  • outlive you 
  • inherit the asset directly upon your death

Sometimes the named beneficiary passes away before you.

When this happens, the asset may:

  • become part of your estate 
  • need to go through probate

Here are some examples to illustrate this:

  • Life Insurance Policy: Imagine you have a life insurance policy, and you named your spouse as the beneficiary. If your spouse passes away before you, and you don’t update the beneficiary designation, the life insurance proceeds may become part of your estate upon your death. This means that the proceeds would need to go through probate before being distributed to your heirs or beneficiaries.
  • Retirement Accounts: You have a 401(k) plan or an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and named your sibling as the beneficiary. If your sibling dies before you and you don’t update the beneficiary designation, the retirement account funds might become part of your estate and need to go through probate before being distributed to your heirs or beneficiaries.
  • Transfer-On-Death (TOD) Or Payable-On-Death (POD) Accounts: You set up a TOD brokerage account or a POD bank account and name your friend as the beneficiary. If your friend predeceases you and you don’t update the beneficiary designation, the account assets may need to go through probate before being transferred to your heirs or beneficiaries.

Property Owned As Tenants In Common

Tenants in common is co-ownership where multiple people own an undivided interest in a property. 

Each owner has a separate share, and these shares can be of different sizes. 

When one co-owner passes away, their share of the property does not automatically transfer to the surviving co-owners. 

Instead, the deceased’s share may need to go through probate before being distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries.

Here are some examples to illustrate this:

  • A House Owned By Three Siblings: Imagine three siblings own a house as tenants in common, each with an equal one-third share. If one sibling passes away, their one-third share does not automatically transfer to the other two siblings. Instead, that one-third share becomes part of the deceased sibling’s estate and may need to go through probate before being distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries.
  • A Vacation Property Owned By Two Friends: Two friends own a vacation property as tenants in common, with one owning a 60% share and the other owning a 40% share. If the friend with the 60% share dies, their share doesn’t automatically transfer to the surviving friend. The 60% share would become part of the deceased friend’s estate and may need to go through probate before being distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries.

In cases like these, the deceased’s share of the property needs to go through probate.

This can be a time-consuming and potentially costly process. 

You can avoid the probate process for real estate owned as tenants in common.

Property owners can use other forms of co-ownership, such as joint tenancy with rights of survivorship.

This allows the property to transfer automatically to the surviving co-owners upon the death of one owner. 

Alternatively, placing the property in a living trust can also help avoid probate.

Read More: What Happens When Two Siblings Own A Property And One Dies?

What Assets Go Through Probate In Georgia

Here’s a list of assets that has to go through probate in Georgia:

  • Real Estate: Property such as houses, condominiums, or land that was solely owned by the deceased, without a joint tenant or beneficiary designation.
  • Vehicles: Cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats, or other motor vehicles owned only by the deceased without a named beneficiary or co-owner.
  • Bank Accounts: Checking and savings accounts held solely in the deceased’s name and without a designated beneficiary or POD provision.
  • Investment Accounts: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and brokerage accounts owned solely by the deceased, without a designated beneficiary or TOD provision.
  • Business Interests: Ownership interests in a sole proprietorship, partnership, or closely held corporation owned by the deceased without a designated beneficiary or co-owner.
  • Personal Property: Artwork, jewelry, furniture, clothing, and other personal belongings that were owned solely by the deceased and do not have a specific beneficiary or ownership arrangement.
  • Intellectual Property: Copyrights, patents, trademarks, or royalties owned solely by the deceased without a designated beneficiary or co-owner.
  • Certain Types Of Jointly-Owned Property: If the deceased owned property with others as tenants in common (a form of co-ownership where each owner has an undivided interest in the property), their share of the property may need to go through probate.

What Assets Do Not Have To Go Through Probate In Georgia?

There are several types of property and assets that do not have to go through probate.

And they can be transferred directly to beneficiaries or co-owners upon the owner’s death. 

Here’s a list of properties that do not have to go through probate in Georgia:

  • Jointly-Owned Property With Rights Of Survivorship: Real estate, bank accounts, or investment accounts held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship will automatically transfer to the surviving joint owner(s) upon the death of one owner.
  • Payable-On-Death (POD) Accounts: Bank accounts, certificates of deposit, or other financial accounts with a payable-on-death designation will transfer directly to the named beneficiary upon the account holder’s death.
  • Transfer-On-Death (TOD) Accounts: Investment accounts, stocks, bonds, or mutual funds with a transfer-on-death designation will transfer directly to the named beneficiary upon the account holder’s death.
  • Life Insurance Policies: Life insurance proceeds will be paid directly to the named beneficiary or beneficiaries without going through probate.
  • Retirement Accounts: Assets in retirement accounts, such as 401(k) plans, IRAs, or pension plans, typically pass directly to the named beneficiary or beneficiaries without going through probate.
  • Annuities: Annuity contracts with designated beneficiaries will transfer the remaining payments or death benefits directly to the named beneficiary without going through probate.
  • Trust Assets: Property and assets held in a living trust or other types of trusts in Georgia generally avoid probate, as the trust document dictates the distribution of the assets.
  • Community Property With Right Of Survivorship: In community property states, married couples can hold property as community property with the right of survivorship, allowing the property to transfer automatically to the surviving spouse upon the death of the other spouse without going through probate.

Do Household Items Go Through Probate?

Household items that need to go through probate are:

  • furniture
  • appliances
  • artwork
  • personal belongings

Let’s say these items:

  • were solely owned by the deceased 
  • do not have a specific beneficiary or ownership arrangement

They generally become part of the deceased person’s estate.

And they may need to go through probate in Georgia.

During the probate process, the court oversees:

  • the identification of heirs or beneficiaries
  • payment of debts and taxes
  • distribution of the remaining assets

This can include household items. 

The household items would be distributed according to:

  • the deceased person’s will
  • according to the state’s intestacy laws (if there is no will)

Household items may not need to go through probate if they:

  • are held in a living trust
  • are jointly owned with rights of survivorship
  • have a specific beneficiary arrangement

In these cases, the items can be transferred directly to the:

  • designated beneficiary
  • co-owner
  • trust beneficiaries 

And they do not need to go through probate in Georgia.

FAQ About What Has To Go Through Probate In Georgia

Here are other questions we get about what has to go through probate in Georgia. 

How Much Does An Estate Have To Be Worth To Go To Probate In Georgia?

Wondering how much an estate has to be worth to go through probate

An estate has to be worth $10,000+ to go through probate in Georgia. 

Georgia has a small estate affidavit process for estates valued at $10,000 or less. 

This allows the heirs to bypass the formal probate process in Georgia. 

Instead, they can file an affidavit with the court. 

This allows for the transfer of assets to the heirs without going through the full probate process.

To use the small estate affidavit in Georgia:

  • at least 90 days must have passed since the deceased person’s death
  • no formal probate petition has been filed or is pending

The person filing the affidavit must:

  • be the rightful heir or successor 
  • provide a sworn statement

This sworn statement includes specific information about:

  • the deceased
  • their assets and debts

Read More: How Much Does An Estate Have To Be Worth To Go To Probate In Georgia?

How Long Do You Have To File Probate After Death In Georgia?

In Georgia, there is no strict deadline for filing probate after a person’s death. 

If the deceased person had a will, the executor should file the will.

If there is no will, an interested party can petition the court to be appointed as the administrator of the estate.

There is no specific deadline for filing probate in Georgia.

But it is worth noting that certain time-sensitive matters may arise during the probate process.

These include things like: 

  • the payment of debts or taxes
  • dealing with claims against the estate

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Georgia?

If you die without a will in Georgia, your estate will be distributed according to the intestacy laws. 

These laws determine the distribution of assets to your closest relatives, such as:

  • your spouse
  • children
  • other family members

Without a will, the probate court will:

  • appoint an administrator to manage your estate 
  • oversee the distribution of your assets according to the Georgia inheritance laws

Get Help With Avoiding Probate In Georgia

You want to make sure that your family is set up.

You don’t want the state to decide how to distribute your estate.

You don’t want your heirs to lose half of their inheritance to unnecessary taxes.

You don’t want family members who are disowned to get your assets.

You don’t want your estate to get stuck in probate for 12+ months.

Fill out the form below.

We will set your will up for you correctly so you don’t have to worry about ANY of this.

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