Probate Process in Georgia

The purpose of Probate is to have judicial oversight over the Administration of the decedent’s Estate. This includes authenticating a loved one’s Will, the application of the state’s Intestacy laws, and the empowerment and evaluation of an executor of the Estate.

Probate only begins when a person who has legal authority files a Will with the proper branch of the Probate court. The court will then act to authenticate the document. It will next empower an executor to administer to the Estate. Reach out to our seasoned lawyers at Nelson Elder Care Law to discover more about the Probate process in Georgia.

Initiating Probate in a Georgia Court

Probate only starts when a party comes forward and asks a court to initiate the process. To this end, only certain people have the legal authority to submit an application to the court. Under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 53-5-2, a nominated executor of the Estate has the first chance to submit this application. It is only when this party fails to submit the request to the court that other people may come forward.

Another vital portion of submitting a Will to Probate is the selection of the proper court. While the state Probate court has branches throughout the state, only a specific court has jurisdiction to hear the case. According to O.C.G.A. § 53-5-1, it is the branch of the Probate court where the decedent lived prior to death that can handle the matter. Our Georgia attorneys can help you submit cases to the proper Probate court to initiate the process.

What to Expect Once Probate Begins

The Probate process in Georgia consists of two main phases. The first involves the authentication of your loved one’s Will if one exists. You must include a copy of that Will with your petition when initiating Probate. Ideally, this document contains the testator’s signature as well as the signatures of two witnesses. This helps the court to presume the Will’s authenticity. Even so, any interested party has the right to contest the Will. Arguments here may include accusations that the document is a forgery or was the product of undue influence.

If a court accepts a Will as genuine, the next phase of Probate begins. The court will issue letters testamentary to the executor of the Estate. This empowers the executor to take temporary possession of Estate Assets and open bank accounts to hold cash and other items. The executor must:

  • Catalog the assets
  • Pay all legitimate debts
  • Maintain the property to retain value
  • Distribute remaining assets to heirs as determined by the will or court ruling

It is only once an executor has completed these steps to the satisfaction of the court that Probate comes to an end.

Let a Georgia Attorney Guide You Through the Probate Process

The Probate process is the only means to obtain assets after the death of a loved one. Once Probate begins, the court works to empower executors with the authority to serve in their roles. This includes taking temporary control over assets, paying all legitimate creditors, and distributing the remaining property to the decedent’s heirs.

Let Nelson Elder Care Law provide more information about the Probate process in Georgia. Schedule a consultation today.

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