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Probate in Georgia

Probate Law in Georgia: What You Need to Know


Probate refers to the legal process in Georgia by which a person’s estate is administered. This process enables an appointed individual to carry out the necessary administrative tasks of tying up a loved one’s estate by paying taxes, notifying creditors, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Georgia probate law lays out how this happens and the rights and responsibilities of those involved.

There are several important aspects of the Georgia probate process to consider. These include:

• Probate is not required in every case.
• Some probate cases involve no claims of disputes or conflicts and are closed out quickly.
• Under Georgia probate law, the personal representative in the estate must publish notice of the proceeding in the local newspaper within 60 days of beginning to serve in this role.
• An estate administrator could be held personally responsible for any malfeasance occurring in the probate case.

Probate Disputes and Your Estate

Georgia probate law outlines who has the right to challenge estate planning documents as well as what happens if there is no will.

Probate disputes can emerge for many different reasons and can add a layer of complexity and additional tension for family members. These disputes include claims against the executor for mishandling funds and allegations of undue influence or lack of capacity surrounding the creation and signing of a will. Probate disputes can not only cause stress to the parties involved but can also delay the closing of the estate administration.

If there is no will associated with an estate in Georgia, the proceedings are known as intestate. This means that the court is responsible for determining what happens to the decedent’s property.

Without a will, all assets will pass to the surviving spouse if there are no children. If you leave behind both a spouse and children, they will split the assets remaining in your estate. If you have no surviving spouse or children, the executor must take on the job of finding your next of kin.

Setting Up Your Estate

Most probate disputes in Georgia can be avoided with proper estate planning. The role of administrator and executor is an important once, since this person must be organized, financially savvy, and prepared to possibly interact with your beneficiaries. In addition to other payments and paperwork, the estate administrator distributes remaining property to beneficiaries at the end of estate administration.

Other professionals and stakeholders can help you outline who will serve in this role and how your estate will be created. These include:
• Family members who might serve as guardians of your children or estate executors
• Trustees responsible for passing on assets placed inside a trust
• Your estate planning attorney
• Your Georgia probate lawyer
• Your accountant and financial professional

If there are concerns or conflicts related to Georgia law, having an existing relationship with a Georgia probate lawyer is important for addressing these issues immediately.

Important Georgia Probate Rules

There are several important things to be aware of when it comes to the Georgia Uniform probate rules, including the Georgia probate time limit.

• The person serving as personal representative must be prepared to offer probate of the will as soon as possible after taking on this role.
• Estate tax returns and any due payments must be submitted no later than nine months after the decedent passed away.
• The executor should keep track of all payments made and all activity occurring within the estate should disputes or allegations of mismanagement arise.
• Debts must be paid out to creditors in a particular order before any of the assets inside the estate can be distributed to heirs.

One common question related to many probate disputes has to do with how long a personal has to probate an estate. While there is no set rule, it is generally expected that the executor will handle the closing of the estate in a timely fashion.

If you believe that this has not happened and that you are being kept from accessing the assets to which you are entitled as a beneficiary, you need to speak with a Georgia probate lawyer immediately. If in this situation, there are steps you can take to compel the executor to bring forward the will. You can also consider filing to become the administrator of the case yourself. Either one of these steps should only be undertaken after you’ve talked through options with your GA probate lawyer. In general, probate should be opened and completed within two years.

Will Challenges

The most common type of probate disputes are will challenges. Not everyone is able to challenge the validity of the will. Those who are financially hurt by the will or who could potentially benefit from it are interested parties. These individuals are able to contest the will so long as they show proof of legal grounds.

A person who has interest in the will is able to block the will at any time prior to it being delivered to the court for filing purposes. This is known as a “caveat,” which must explain the reasons why the person is objecting to the will. If you pursue this route, the estate enters what is known as solemn form probate. You should act quickly and speak to a Georgia probate attorney immediately if you believe the will is invalid.

If you do not contest the will before it enters probate, you have only four years to contest it after the executor requests common form probate. The will does not become final until this four-year period has expired, giving heirs the chance to object during that period.

A will is valid until the testator passes away unless a person can show that the will was invalid at the time it was created and signed. A will can be changed at any time before the creator passes away, so long as the circumstances surrounding that new will are legally valid. If a will was significantly revised prior to the death of the creator, this opens the door for more will challenges and contests.

Wills can be challenged on several grounds, including:

• Mental capacity
• Undue influence
• Improper execution
• Fraud
• Forgery

Probate Codes

Some of the most important statutes related to Georgia probate code include:

• An appointed personal representative must be prepared to take charge of settling the estate administration per GA Code Ann. 53-5-2.
• A surviving spouse has the first right to be named as administrator per GA Code Ann. 53-6-20.
• The court might require a bond to be posted by the personal administrator under GA Code Ann. 53-6-50.
• An accounting might be required unless the beneficiaries opt out of it or the will says that one is unnecessary per GA Code Ann. 53-7-67, 53-7-30, and 53-7-68.
• State laws prioritize the claims for payments to creditors If there’s not enough money to pay debts. Families are paid first followed by funeral expenses, probate costs, last illness expenses, and taxes per GA Code Ann. 53-3-1.

Hiring an attorney familiar with the Georgia Uniform Probate Court Rules and the Georgia probate time limit is recommended to ensure accuracy of the administration process.

Probate Forms

Knowing the right Georgia probate forms to use can expedite the process for an individual serving in the role of executor or personal representative. Filing this paperwork as soon as possible and as accurately as possible is important.

Numerous forms are available to assist with a streamlined management of Georgia probate, including:

• Petition for Temporary Letters of Administration
• Petition to Probate a Will in Common Form
• Petition to Probate Will in Solemn Form
• Petition for Year’s Support
• Petition for Order Declaring No Administration Necessary

Accessing Georgia Probate Forms Online

These forms and many more can be accessed by looking for Georgia probate forms online. Georgia probate forms online can be found here: http://gaprobate.gov/content/2017-2018-fillable-pdf-standard-forms?menu=main

Probate Records

Anyone serving in the role of Georgia personal representative should be familiar with the storing of probate records. All paperwork related to Georgia wills and probate records should be copied and stored in a safe location by the personal representative.

While Georgia probate records related to the estate administration will be on file with the government as the executor submits them, it’s recommended that the executor store these on file for at least one year following the close of probate should any questions or disputes arise.

Many previous Georgia probate records can be searched online or at the courthouse in which they were filed, so anyone looking for information about a case might be able to access necessary information.

Preparing for Estate Litigation

Without a clear understanding, the Georgia probate court rules can be overwhelming.

In order to prepare for estate litigation, there are several steps you must take:

• Understand the relevant Georgia probate codes applicable to your case.
• Identify whether or not you qualify as a stakeholder eligible to bring forward a claim.
• Gather necessary documents related to your evidence or concerns.
• Have the right forms filled out in advance.
• Schedule a consultation with a Georgia probate attorney.

A Georgia Probate Law in Georgia: What You Need to Know

Probate refers to the legal process in Georgia by which a person’s estate is administered. This process enables an appointed individual to carry out the necessary administrative tasks of tying up a loved one’s estate by paying taxes, notifying creditors, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Georgia probate law lays out how this happens and the rights and responsibilities of those involved.

There are several important aspects of the Georgia probate process to consider. These include:

• Probate is not required in every case.
• Some probate cases involve no claims of disputes or conflicts and are closed out quickly.
• Under Georgia probate law, the personal representative in the estate must publish notice of the proceeding in the local newspaper within 60 days of beginning to serve in this role.
• An estate administrator could be held personally responsible for any malfeasance occurring in the probate case.

Probate Disputes and Your Estate

Georgia probate law outlines who has the right to challenge estate planning documents as well as what happens if there is no will.

Probate disputes can emerge for many different reasons and can add a layer of complexity and additional tension for family members. These disputes include claims against the executor for mishandling funds and allegations of undue influence or lack of capacity surrounding the creation and signing of a will. Probate disputes can not only cause stress to the parties involved but can also delay the closing of the estate administration.

If there is no will associated with an estate in Georgia, the proceedings are known as intestate. This means that the court is responsible for determining what happens to the decedent’s property.

Without a will, all assets will pass to the surviving spouse if there are no children. If you leave behind both a spouse and children, they will split the assets remaining in your estate. If you have no surviving spouse or children, the executor must take on the job of finding your next of kin.

Setting Up Your Estate

Most probate disputes in Georgia can be avoided with proper estate planning. The role of administrator and executor is an important once, since this person must be organized, financially savvy, and prepared to possibly interact with your beneficiaries. In addition to other payments and paperwork, the estate administrator distributes remaining property to beneficiaries at the end of estate administration.

Other professionals and stakeholders can help you outline who will serve in this role and how your estate will be created. These include:
• Family members who might serve as guardians of your children or estate executors
• Trustees responsible for passing on assets placed inside a trust
• Your estate planning attorney
• Your Georgia probate lawyer
• Your accountant and financial professional

If there are concerns or conflicts related to Georgia law, having an existing relationship with a Georgia probate lawyer is important for addressing these issues immediately.

Important Georgia Probate Rules

There are several important things to be aware of when it comes to the Georgia Uniform probate rules, including the Georgia probate time limit.

• The person serving as personal representative must be prepared to offer probate of the will as soon as possible after taking on this role.
• Estate tax returns and any due payments must be submitted no later than nine months after the decedent passed away.
• The executor should keep track of all payments made and all activity occurring within the estate should disputes or allegations of mismanagement arise.
• Debts must be paid out to creditors in a particular order before any of the assets inside the estate can be distributed to heirs.

One common question related to many probate disputes has to do with how long a personal has to probate an estate. While there is no set rule, it is generally expected that the executor will handle the closing of the estate in a timely fashion.

If you believe that this has not happened and that you are being kept from accessing the assets to which you are entitled as a beneficiary, you need to speak with a Georgia probate lawyer immediately. If in this situation, there are steps you can take to compel the executor to bring forward the will. You can also consider filing to become the administrator of the case yourself. Either one of these steps should only be undertaken after you’ve talked through options with your GA probate lawyer. In general, probate should be opened and completed within two years.

Will Challenges

The most common type of probate disputes are will challenges. Not everyone is able to challenge the validity of the will. Those who are financially hurt by the will or who could potentially benefit from it are interested parties. These individuals are able to contest the will so long as they show proof of legal grounds.

A person who has interest in the will is able to block the will at any time prior to it being delivered to the court for filing purposes. This is known as a “caveat,” which must explain the reasons why the person is objecting to the will. If you pursue this route, the estate enters what is known as solemn form probate. You should act quickly and speak to a Georgia probate attorney immediately if you believe the will is invalid.

If you do not contest the will before it enters probate, you have only four years to contest it after the executor requests common form probate. The will does not become final until this four-year period has expired, giving heirs the chance to object during that period.

A will is valid until the testator passes away unless a person can show that the will was invalid at the time it was created and signed. A will can be changed at any time before the creator passes away, so long as the circumstances surrounding that new will are legally valid. If a will was significantly revised prior to the death of the creator, this opens the door for more will challenges and contests.

Wills can be challenged on several grounds, including:

• Mental capacity
• Undue influence
• Improper execution
• Fraud
• Forgery

Probate Codes

Some of the most important statutes related to Georgia probate code include:

• An appointed personal representative must be prepared to take charge of settling the estate administration per GA Code Ann. 53-5-2.
• A surviving spouse has the first right to be named as administrator per GA Code Ann. 53-6-20.
• The court might require a bond to be posted by the personal administrator under GA Code Ann. 53-6-50.
• An accounting might be required unless the beneficiaries opt out of it or the will says that one is unnecessary per GA Code Ann. 53-7-67, 53-7-30, and 53-7-68.
• State laws prioritize the claims for payments to creditors If there’s not enough money to pay debts. Families are paid first followed by funeral expenses, probate costs, last illness expenses, and taxes per GA Code Ann. 53-3-1.

Hiring an attorney familiar with the Georgia Uniform Probate Court Rules and the Georgia probate time limit is recommended to ensure accuracy of the administration process.

Probate Forms

Knowing the right Georgia probate forms to use can expedite the process for an individual serving in the role of executor or personal representative. Filing this paperwork as soon as possible and as accurately as possible is important.

Numerous forms are available to assist with a streamlined management of Georgia probate, including:

• Petition for Temporary Letters of Administration
• Petition to Probate a Will in Common Form
• Petition to Probate Will in Solemn Form
• Petition for Year’s Support
• Petition for Order Declaring No Administration Necessary

Accessing Georgia Probate Forms Online

These forms and many more can be accessed by looking for Georgia probate forms online. Georgia probate forms online can be found here: http://gaprobate.gov/content/2017-2018-fillable-pdf-standard-forms?menu=main

Probate Records

Anyone serving in the role of Georgia personal representative should be familiar with the storing of probate records. All paperwork related to Georgia wills and probate records should be copied and stored in a safe location by the personal representative.

While Georgia probate records related to the estate administration will be on file with the government as the executor submits them, it’s recommended that the executor store these on file for at least one year following the close of probate should any questions or disputes arise.

Many previous Georgia probate records can be searched online or at the courthouse in which they were filed, so anyone looking for information about a case might be able to access necessary information.

Preparing for Estate Litigation

Without a clear understanding, the Georgia probate court rules can be overwhelming.

In order to prepare for estate litigation, there are several steps you must take:

• Understand the relevant Georgia probate codes applicable to your case.
• Identify whether or not you qualify as a stakeholder eligible to bring forward a claim.
• Gather necessary documents related to your evidence or concerns.
• Have the right forms filled out in advance.
• Schedule a consultation with a Georgia probate attorney.

A Georgia probate attorney can walk you through each aspect of your case so that you better understand your next steps. Being organized and prepared can ease the stress of working through a probate dispute.

Do You Need a Georgia Probate Lawyer?

Given the complexities of closing out an estate or handling a dispute, it’s recommended that you find a probate attorney in Atlanta GA. When you have a Georgia probate lawyer at your side, your lawyer will ensure that you file all paperwork by necessary deadlines and that you stay on top of the various responsibilities and requirements of participating in a dispute or serving as the estate administrator.

A probate attorney in Atlanta can advise you of your rights and help you with your complicated probate case. Contact our office today to learn more.
robate attorney can walk you through each aspect of your case so that you better understand your next steps. Being organized and prepared can ease the stress of working through a probate dispute.

Do You Need a Georgia Probate Lawyer?

Given the complexities of closing out an estate or handling a dispute, it’s recommended that you find a probate attorney in Atlanta GA. When you have a Georgia probate lawyer at your side, your lawyer will ensure that you file all paperwork by necessary deadlines and that you stay on top of the various responsibilities and requirements of participating in a dispute or serving as the estate administrator.

A probate attorney in Atlanta can advise you of your rights and help you with your complicated probate case. Contact our office today to learn more.

Get your questions answered - Feel free to call us for consultation (770) 933-9009

Atlanta, GA Estate Planning Attorney, Brian M. Douglas, assists clients in all areas of life & wealth planning. Services provided include estate planning, trusts and estates, planning wills and trusts, power of attorney, probate and trust administration, small business law, corporate law, real estate transactions and law, long-term care and Medicaid, veterans benefits, charitable planning, special needs and disability planning, estate tax planning, business succession planning, Medicaid crisis planning, and asset protection. Brian M. Douglas serves all of Atlanta, Georgia, along with Cobb County, Cherokee County, Fulton County, Forsyth County, Dekalb County, Gwinnett County, and Douglas County.