Probate refers to the time period and steps taken during the process of evaluating and dispersing a deceased person’s estate through the legal system. Probate happens whether there is a will or not, but the Georgia legal system honors a valid will. When a will is in probate, the probate estate only refers to the property or estate that was the will owner’s alone and did not have an automatic inheritance, such as life insurance benefits. The Georgia probate court will determine if the will is valid, assess the amount of debts and taxes owed and require payment of related expenses before distributing estate property.
Find the executor of the will. In Georgia, the named executor in a will should be the one to file the will with the Georgia probate courts. If the will does not name a person named to handle the estate, the individual who possesses the will may file it. The heirs must name a temporary administrator or a permanent administrator for the probate process.
Visit the local county probate court or visit Georgia Probate Courts online to complete and file Standard Form No. 5--Petition to Probate Will in Solemn Form.
Find the names and addresses of all living relatives of the deceased, also called the decedent. The filer will be required to list all the heirs in the petition to probate will.
Collect money from heirs for filing the will with the court. As of 2010, Georgia required a $117 filing fee plus a $2 filing fee for each page, including the standard form and the actual will. The actual will may be copied for $5. The court must have the original.
Secure a lawyer. The Georgia probate courts recommend heirs obtain legal services during the probate process if there are debts owed, benefit claims or tax issues. Choosing not to hire a lawyer gives heirs the status of proceeding pro se.
Should the will not have notarized witness signatures or be considered valid by the court, a Standard Form No. 6 may be required.
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