Starting Probate in Marietta

Probate is one way to ensure the proper distribution of a loved one’s property to their named heirs. This process can vary significantly in its complexity and length, but there are a few concepts that all Probate cases have in common.

One is the way in which Probate starts. The nominated executor of your loved one’s Estate has the first chance to initiate this process. This triggers the court’s legal processes for empowering executors, recognizing the legitimacy of Wills, and overseeing the proper distribution of assets. Talking with our qualified attorneys can help to answer your questions about starting Probate in Marietta.

Who has the Legal Authority to ask a Court to Start Probate?

Only specific people can ask a court to initiate the Probate process. In the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 53-5-2, the person nominated as an executor in your loved one’s Will has the first opportunity to file a formal petition for Probate to the court.

If this person fails to come forward in a reasonable amount of time, or if the Will does not nominate an executor, any other interested person may bring a petition to court. These interested parties can include:

  • Heirs of the decedent
  • Beneficiaries under the will
  • Beneficiaries or trustees of a trust established by the terms of the will

If you were nominated as an executor or are an interested person, our Marietta attorneys can help you through the process of initiating Probate after your loved one’s death.

Is There a Time Limit Following a Death to Start Probate?

There is a time limit following a person’s death to bring a petition for Probate to the court. Under O.C.G.A. § 53-5-3, Marietta courts only have the power to start Probate if a petitioner comes forward within five years of their loved one’s death.

On the other hand, there is no minimum time limit that a person must wait to come forward. As long as a petitioner can satisfy the requirements for these petitions that a court demands to open a case, they can file the paperwork at their earliest convenience. This includes proof of the death, evidence of that person’s eligibility to file the petition, and a copy of the Will.

The Obligation to Provide a Copy of a Will to the Court

The Probate court is the sole legal body with authority to rule on the authenticity of a Will. As such, the court may order a person to provide the original copy of the document to the court at the earliest possible date. In fact, O.C.G.A. § 53-5-5 authorizes the court to fine or even imprison a person who improperly withholds a Will.

In most situations, these punishments are of no concern. An executor or other party submitting a petition for Probate is likely to include a copy of the relevant Will. However, cases do arise where there appear to be conflicting, multiple Wills. Here, the court will need to consider all apparent testamentary documents to determine the sole, true version. All parties who believe that they hold a copy of a loved one’s Will must submit that document to the court at the start of the Probate process in Marietta.

Allow Our Marietta Attorneys to Help you Start Probate

Nelson Elder Care Law can help answer any additional questions that you have about starting Probate in Marietta. We also assist people like you to prepare and submit formal petitions for Probate to the courts. Reach out today to learn more.

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