Estates

Estates

For Probate Court related forms, documents, and other assistance, please visit www.gaprobate.org.

 

Questions and Answers

 

Do I need a lawyer to probate a will?

It is always best to have legal assistance when dealing in court proceedings; however, the Probate Court does not require you to have an attorney.

 

Can the staff assist me in preparing my petition?

The law prohibits the staff of the Probate Court from giving any legal advice or assistance.  it is therefore a violation for the staff to assist anyone in preparing petitions.

 

How long does it take to probate a will?

The probate process can be completed in a matter of hours or months, depending on the agreement or lack thereof by the heirs.  When everyone is in agreement, it takes only a few hours.

 

Why does a will need to be probated?

The word "probate" means "to prove."  A will is not operative under the law until it has been proven by the court to be a will.  The court process allows anyone who has standing to object and be heard.

 

Why can't the heirs sell property without coming before the probate court?

The law changed in 1998 requiring a representative to be appointed by the court (and executor or administrator).  The old law allowed the heirs to pass title by quitclaim deed.  The new law vests ownership in the representative.

 

Is a power of attorney for an individual good after his/her death?

No.  The power of attorney loses its authority when the executor dies.

 

Is there a statute of limitations on probating a will?

Yes.  Under the new law, the statute of limitations is 5 years.

 

Does a will have to be probated?

No.  A will only has to be probated if there is enough property in the estate to require probate.

 

Should the will be filed with the court?

Yes.  Filing the will with the court is required by law.