We are not a law firm, or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. First, locate all copies of wills executed by the decedent. Georgia law allows an heir to request that the decedent's estate skip probate entirely. We're available Mon-Fri 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. PT and weekends 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT. “That’s one of the bigger surprises for people. When this happens, the intestacy succession laws found in the Georgia Probate Code will dictate who inherits the assets in the probate estate. The simple answer is... yes! Learn How Coronavirus and State Mandated Social Distancing is Affecting Probate Courts, You might be asking yourself, "Can I probate a will myself?". If you are unsure how to transfer ownership, then an attorney is needed. Steps in the Probate Process. GA Code § 53-4-22. Probating a will in Georgia involves many different processes and filing requirements. For the vast majority of probate cases, an attorney is not required. The content is not legal advice. Georgia’s Filing Laws As you can see there is no clear answer to if you need an attorney to probate a will, rather certain situations that come up when an attorney is most definitely recommended. Generally the surviving spouse is appointed. This is why you need an Atlanta probate attorney to help. Only property that is in the deceased’s sole name will be handled under the intestacy laws. You will only file for probate the one you believe to be the decedent's last will and testament (along with any codicils thereto). What you will need: A valid will, a copy of a will, or know for sure there is no will. This estate is called the intestate estate and the probate laws in Georgia determine its distribution and transfer as follows: Schedule a Consultation. In the appointment phase, our main goal is to get someone acquainted who’s able to represent the estate, and act on behalf of the estate. Although not necessary, it is wise to have an expert’s eye on your actions to avoid any costly (personally to you) mistakes. The executor is responsible (personally) to ensure that all attempts are made to pay funeral expenses and taxes. Probate is not always necessary or even required. Note the order that you will need to prioritize payments. Usually, they are required only if the deceased person owned assets in his or her name alone. Georgia probate law requires that a decedent’s will must be filed in the county where he lived within a reasonable period of time. These include any debts owed to creditors, final tax returns, and any estate taxes owed to federal or state tax agencies. When a person in Georgia dies without a will, or in case the one he has is declared, the estate he leaves behind is distributed according to the law of the state. Retirement accounts, IRAs or life insurance proceeds, where a beneficiary is named, … For most common assets (bank accounts, investments, property) you will be able to do it yourself. How to Start the Probate Process. Can I Change a Successor Trustee Without a Lawyer. The court may also appoint a guardian for the deceased’s children who were left without a parent. After paying all final debts, distribute the remaining assets to heirs and beneficiaries according to the terms of the will. Privacy Policy. Collect all estate assets, including personal property, money, bank accounts, or deeds, and file a report with the court within six months. A self-proving will speeds up probate because the court can accept … While the book gets into detail into many aspects of estate planning in Georgia, here are three things that will help avoid the probate process: File the petition for the method of probate you choose given the specific circumstances. Uncontested Probate. The court places a priority on payment of funeral, 5) Tell the court what you have done and close the estate, As you can see there is no clear answer to if you need an attorney to probate a will, rather certain situations that come up when an attorney is most definitely recommended. Solemn form probate usually only occurs if the executor expects an heir or beneficiary to contest the will. Once you file the will with the appropriate probate court, you will need to take stock of the assets in the document and to whom they should go. The court places a priority on payment of funeral, taxes, and debts before any payments to heirs. What you will need: a clear understanding of who the heirs are (will or state succession laws), and a reasonable attempt to uncover debts. This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. Probate courts usually oversee this process, and an executor named in the will or appointed by the court manages the estate. § § 53-2-40. If there’s not a will, they are called an administrator. In the state of Georgia, when someone dies with only a will – or not even that basic protection – in place, their estate must go through a court process known as probate. Probate & estate administration attorneys handle succession issues and can help you navigate court processes, payment of the deceased person's debts, distribution of property according to the will or estate plan, and probate … When would you need an attorney: If you don’t understand the will or need help determining who the heirs are. This is when you report to the court and show proof that you have done everything needed to close the estate. Our network attorneys have an average customer rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. Additionally, the representative is also responsible to find out what debts the deceased had and devise a plan to pay those debts. However, there may be times when a lawyer is necessary. Ga. Code Ann. If the estate does not have sufficient funds to pay all remaining debts, you must liquidate other assets. Therefore, those who are expecting a quick resolution and distribution of assets are probably going to be disappointed. Accounts that have a payable on death designation or property that is owned in joint tenancy, go to the surviving owner following the death of the other owner. Note that all states post the “succession laws” and you can google them by searching: (state) succession law, or (state) intestate succession. The simple answer is... yes! Remember, only, This may be the most straightforward part. That is why it is important to hire an experienced Marietta Probate Attorney to guide your family through this difficult process. After settling the estate, submit a petition for discharge. If you were named as an executor in someone’s will or a family member just passed away, speak with an attorney … Once you have obtained the will, you need to file it with the correct probate court. When you would need an attorney: There may be assets that have complicated ownership, businesses, royalties, mineral rights etc. Within 60 days of opening the probate process, you must publish a notice to potential creditors. Open a Probate Case with the Court If you do proceed without legal counsel, you must first file an application or petition with the court to open probate, along with the will and the death certificate. This is an expedited process that avoids complicated forms and numerous trips to probate court. These fees are also dictated by state law and they're usually calculated in the same way as the personal representative's fee. 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. Probate court proceedings aren’t always necessary. If it is in a safety deposit box, the bank must turn it over to the court. In Georgia, the state offers two different types of probate: solemn form and common form. Let's go over the general steps of the probate process and discuss when an attorney might be needed. An attorney can also ask for "extraordinary fees" for services rendered above and beyond those that are deemed to be basic probate duties. He’s married and has four grown-ish sons. That said, the probate process in Georgia can be expected to take anywhere from at least about six months to as much as a few years. What you will need: Good documentation of what you have done and the court will provide you with a template to use to report your actions. Most states, including Georgia, have special processes in place for estates that are either unusually complex or very simple. We simply help you fill out publicly available forms and provide you with publicly available information. In fact, anyone can interact with the court system and you do not need a lawyer to do so. In cases where there is no will, Georgia statutes will determine how property is distributed. First, you may not need a will at all. This type of probate requires notice to all potential heirs and settles any contests at the first court appearance. He graduated from our alma mater, GSU College of Law in 2011. If the will is not being followed, then an interested party,typically an heir or beneficiary, may petition the probate court and bring the issue in front of the probate judge. Therefore, when a loved one passes away, you should take into account a few things. Ultimately, much of, Learn which assets pass through probate here. Let's go over the general steps of the probate process and discuss when an attorney might be needed. If the will is valid, then Georgia probate law requires that it be followed, except when following it would violate another provision of the law.   Not all estates require an attorney, however. When you’re going through probate, you’ll need to know the various steps that occur. I would STRONGLY advise seeking counsel if the estate is insolvent (more debts than assets). Contact a Georgia Probate Attorney. For you to execute the codicil, Georgia law requires two competent witnesses who are at least 14 years old to be present when you sign and date your codicil document. Simplified Probate Procedures in Georgia. Save time and money with our EZ-Probate process and leave the actual legal questions if they arise for the attorney. In most circumstances, the executor named in the will assumes the role of handling probate. Your relative may have passed away without having a last will and testament. What you will need: Court appointment and knowledge of what the deceased owned. Surviving Spouse Rights If There Is No Will – Intestacy. The court will provide you with forms to fill out to notify heirs (listed in a will, or if no will state law dictates who the heirs are). Learn which assets pass through probate here. What you will need: A good accounting of all assets, debts, and likely tax liability. Generally, notice of the court hearing regarding the petition must be provided to all of the decedent's heirs and beneficiaries. Every probate is different and may involve additional steps and different procedures. Georgia allows for a simplified probate procedure if certain conditions are met. Georgia law also requires that a will must be attested and subscribed by two or more competent witnesses in the presence of the testator. Remember, only assets that pass through probate are liable to pay debts. People typically keep their wills in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box, but they may have filed it with the court while they were still alive. Additionally, the representative is also responsible to find out what debts the deceased had and devise a plan to pay those debts. EZ-Probate does not provide legal advice, nor are we attorneys. Certain items of property are considered out-of-probate, and these assets normally include those that are owned jointly with another person or involve some type of beneficiary designation. Ultimately, much of probate is simply filling out forms. Common form probate, on the other hand, does not require notice but remains open to challenge for four years. The deceased person may have named a guardian in his or her will, but if there is no guardian or the named guardian … Some states have residency requirements for administrators, which can create serious issues for families that are spread across the country. But once you've completed your duties, you will have done a service to the deceased and their loved ones. No, in Georgia, you do not need to notarize your will to make it legal. Get the right guidance with an attorney by your side. Note the order that you will need to prioritize payments. People sometimes mistakenly believe that they can avoid probate if there's no will. You may be surprised to learn that in Georgia, these laws don’t follow the guidelines that many states use, and can be particularly unfavorable to a surviving spouse. The Surviving Spouse. However, Georgia law requires that anyone in possession of an original will file the will in the probate court of the county in which the decedent died. These forms can (with the help of EZ-Probate) be filled out by you. This type of probate requires notice to all potential heirs and settles any contests at the first court appearance. However, there may be times when a lawyer is necessary. Settling an estate typically involves paying off the deceased's outstanding debts and final taxes and transferring property to any heirs or beneficiaries. If you are the executor of an estate, a probate & estate administration attorney can help. To get that person appointed, we’ll need to file a petition with the probate court. That petition is going to have a number of disclosures that we have to make, and we may need to file some additional … When the court approves this petition, the probate process is complete. When there is no will, or an estate exceeds Georgia’s small estate threshold, probate may be required. If you think you need legal advice please consult a licensed attorney. This may be the most straightforward part. Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter! Attorney's Fees . The court will require the petitioner (person asking the court to appoint an official representative) to fill out specific forms. But if the testator owned the property personally at the time of death without co-owners or beneficiary designations, the only way to legally transfer the assets is through probate. When a property owner dies, their assets must be distributed to the people that are named in the decedent's will or are the decedent's heirs under state law. A probate court in Georgia may appoint an executor if there’s absolutely no executor or the executor can’t or will not function, according to the Official Code of Georgia section 53-6-20. Georgia has among the most user-friendly of probate laws, allowing many estates to avoid probate altogether, as well as streamlining the administration of most estates that are probated. The only comment I disagree with is that technically you can file for probate, if needed, without an attorney if, and only if, you are the only beneficiary. With the court appointment, you will now be able to change assets owned by the deceased to the “estate of…”. Each witness must also sign and date the codicil in front of you immediately after you … Uncontested probate or administration through appointment, no minor heirs: $1500 – $2500; Uncontested probate or administration through appointment, with minor heirs: $2000 – $3000; Uncontested year’s support through final order: $2000 – $3000 . A person can die either intestate (without a will) or testate (with a valid will). Scott is a probate real estate attorney in Tucker, Georgia. The Probate Process. Unfortunately, that generally isn't true. To begin the process, application must be made in the probate court of the county where the decedent died if he or she was a Georgia resident. For the vast majority of probate cases, an attorney is not required. Probate is the legal process that takes place after someone dies that determines how the deceased’s assets will be distributed. Schenk: Go Panthers. In fact, anyone can interact with the court system and you do not need a lawyer to do so. Note that even if an attorney is needed, you can hire them for very … Probate is the legal process of settling someone's estate when they die. The petition to open a probate proceeding should be filed at this time as well. It’s always best to have a will and not leave your estate to chance. When someone dies “intestate,” or without a will, the probate court judge can appoint an administrator to pay the debts and disburse the decedent’s property to his heirs at law. Surviving spouse rights in Georgia are sometimes not automatic unless time-sensitive deadlines are met. Terms of Use and If there's no will, the state probate court will decide the rules of inheritance. Because of this, there are some unique considerations for estate planning. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law. In some states, either you or the court must publish a notice to interested parties that the estate is … The probate process begins with the filing of the petition with the probate court to either (1) admit the will to probate and appoint the executor or (2) if there is no will, appoint an administrator of the estate. It will be the basic "Who, What, When, Where," types of questions. Common form probate, on the other hand, does not require notice but remains open to … What Sets Georgia Apart. When would you need an attorney: We recommend that at this point everyone should consult with an attorney to review your taken actions. Solemn form probate usually only occurs if the executor expects an heir or beneficiary to contest the will. The executor has two options. He can open a Solemn Form probate or … 1) Petition the court to be the estate representative, The court will provide you with forms to fill out to notify heirs (listed in a will, or if no will state law dictates who the heirs are). Before you can petition the court to begin the probate process, you must locate the will of the deceased. Probate court selects the estate administrator when you die without a will. In order to write a valid will in the state of Georgia, a person must meet the following characteristics: 1) They must be at least 14 years old 2) They must make a rational decision concerning the disbursement of any property 3) They must volunteer to … The failure to meet one of the probate deadlines can cause a surviving spouse to lose one or more spousal entitlements. If you’d like more information without seeing an attorney, you can buy my book, Estate Planning for the Modern Family: A Georgian’s Guide to Wills,Trusts, and Powers of Attorney, for a step-by-step guide to estate planning in Georgia. You may qualify for the simplified probate procedure in Georgia if: there is no will, AND; the estate has no debt, AND; the heirs are in agreement about the division of the estate amongst or between themselves. Before distributing assets to any heirs or beneficiaries, pay all outstanding debts. If someone dies without a will, they have died intestate. With the court appointment, you will now be able to change. Note that even if an attorney is needed, you can hire them for very specific issues and might not need them for the entire process. When would you need an attorney: If you don’t have enough money to pay for all of the estate expenses, particularly the taxes. If there is not a spouse, or they decline, the court will appoint the next nearest relative. However, Georgia allows you to make your will " self-proving " and you'll need to go to a notary if you want to do that. If there’s a will, this person is called an executor. Use of our products and services are governed by our Attorneys with you, every step of the way. Probate is the process where the state of Georgia steps in to ensure the deceased person’s debts are paid and their assets are distributed fairly. In Georgia, the state offers two different types of probate: solemn form and common form. When would you need an attorney:  When filling out the court forms, there is most likely no need for an attorney unless you don’t understand what the will is instructing the executor to do. Typically accompanying the will itself is a petition for probate, which formally asks the court to begin the probate process. You must obtain evidence that the heirs or beneficiaries received their bequests and submit to the probate court a final accounting report that details the expenses paid and the transfer of all assets. Scott grew up in the Atlanta area and has lived in Tucker for over 20 years. Any individual who is competent to be a witness (meaning generally that they can attest to the witnessing of the will) and age 14 or older may witness a will in Georgia. There are several steps in the probate process that contribute to how long the Georgia Probate Process takes a family to navigate. Uncontested Guardianships © LegalZoom.com, Inc. All rights reserved. Debts than assets ) of all assets, debts, and an.! Assets in his or her name alone and final taxes and transferring property to any heirs or beneficiaries estate. 'Ve completed your duties, you need to notarize your will to make it legal in 2011 a! Additionally, the representative is also responsible to find out what debts the ’. 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