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Georgia Probate Laws

In Georgia, probate is a fancy term for the legal process that occurs after a person dies. That person is known as the "decedent." It generally involves going to court to decide on:

  • Whether there is a valid will;
  • Appointing a person who will gather any assets (executor if there is a will, administrator if there is no will);
  • Paying any debts the decedent may have; and
  • Distributing any assets that are left over.

The Process

The process can vary depending on whether or not the decedent had a valid will and the type of probate administration the decedents estate will have to go through. If the decedent died with a will, the executor will follow what's laid out in that document.

If a person died without a will, the court will divide the property among the heirs based on Georgia probate laws. Here's a useful chart to help you understand.

How to Skip Probate if the Decedent Didn't Have a Will

Georgia law allows an heir to request that the decedent's estate skip probate entirely. This is an expedited process that avoids complicated forms and numerous trips to probate court. This process can be utilized when the decedent died without a will and all the heirs agree on how the remaining assets should be divided. A written plan is required to be filed by the heirs with the probate court. This written plan must show how all of the property of the estate will be disbursed.

This can be started by filing out a "Petition for Order Declaring No Administration is Necessary."

Have fighting heirs? People who simply don't agree to how assets should be divided? You won't be able to use this probate petition.

In addition, the estate must not have any outstanding debts. If there are outstanding debts, then the heir must certify that all of the creditors have agreed to the petition.

Creditors want to be paid and won't agree? You won't be able to use this probate petition

See Probate Court, State Probate Courts, Avoiding Probate, and Estate Taxes for more information.

Code Section Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) Section 53-2-1, et. seq.
Types of Probate Administration Will or no will (Intestate).In some instances you can avoid probate if the decedent dies without a will, all the heirs agree to how to distribute the estate, and all creditors (if any) agree to the distribution plan.
What Assets Go Through Probate? Bank accounts in the decedent's name with no co-owner and no beneficiary designation; real estate that is owned by the decedent individually; real estate that is co-owned as tenants in common; stocks and bonds in the decedent's name, tangible possessions such as clothing, jewelry, household furniture, and cars registered in the decedent's name only
What Assets Do Not Go Through Probate? Property in a Revocable Trust, real estate owned as Joint Tenants with a Right of Survivorship, life insurance policies and retirement accounts with a designated beneficiary, bank accounts with payable on death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD) clause.
Who Supervises and Decides Probate Cases? The Georgia Probate Courts
Estate Taxes No, Georgia does not have a separate estate tax. The law changed as of December 31, 2004.
List of Forms

Probate Forms from the Georgia Courts website and "What to do When a Loved One Dies"

Get Professional Help From a Georgia Probate Lawyer 

Georgia's probate laws can be tricky, and embarking on a particular probate procedure when you're not absolutely sure about the law can create all kinds of new problems. A local Georgia probate or estate administration attorney can help you better understand the how the state's current laws apply to your particular situation. Get started today and find a probate law attorney near you.

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