When property is transferred from the estate of a deceased person to his heirs, it is called estate settlement. In Georgia, estate settlement occurs through probate or the administration of a living trust. Under a will and a living trust, real estate, tangible possessions such as clothing and furniture, bank accounts and securities are transferred to heirs. Any person who has assets should have a will, whether or not he is married or has children. After the probate process or the trust distribution, you will still need to transfer the title of any property you received.
Petition the Georgia probate court if you are the executor of the will. Notify all the heirs and creditors, and wait for four weeks. Pay all debts to the creditors and begin the asset-transfer process. Obtain and distribute new deeds for all the property in the will.
Read More: The Pros & Cons of Making a Will
Acquire the deeds from the executor. The deed will be in your name at the end of the court probate proceedings or upon death if there was a trust. Your deed may state it is “joint tenant,” “tenant in common” or “joint with survivorship” for deeds in a trust or deeds that were created through Operation of Law. This will have been property you had joint ownership in throughout the life of the person who willed the property to you.
Get a copy of the death certificate from the funeral home or you can order it from the public record. You will need the deceased's full name, month, day and year of death; city and county of death; age of deceased; sex; relationship to deceased and number of copies. The Georgia Department of Community Health under the Vital Records office will have the certificates. Request the certificate online or visit the office.
Review any mortgages or outstanding debts on the property. These should have been paid through the probate process. Review them and make sure they were paid. If the property was a tenant in common and still has a mortgage, review the documents to ensure you can make the payments under the current mortgage. Consult a lawyer to assist you in reviewing the mortgage documents.
File an “Affidavit of Ownership” with the Superior Court. File the affidavit in the Georgia county in which the property is located. The affidavit serves as notice that you are now the sole owner of the property.
Apply for exemptions. When you filed the affidavit, the tax commissioner was notified and taxes became due on the property. If you had previous exemptions or are eligible for new exemptions such as school taxes or a homestead exemption, these must be filed either March or April the first year after you filed the affidavit of ownership.
Acquire a copy of the trust or will documents and the probate court documents for your records.
- Georgia Department of Community Health: Vital Records
- Adams Law Offices, LLC: Being Executor or Administrator of an Estate
- Real Estate Lawyers: Georgia Property Deeds
- National Timber Tax Website; Property Transfers after Death; Jacobson & Becker
- PennMutual: Transfer of Assets at Death
- Administrative Office of the Courts of Georgia; Uniform Rules for the Probate Court; 1983
- Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images