In Georgia the term “probate” is typically used to describe the legal process of transferring assets out of a deceased person’s name. We often help clients navigate this process which happens in the Probate Court of the County where the deceased person lived before they died. Here are 5 things you should know about probate in Georgia :

  1.  You must have original documents to file. The Probate Court will require the original of any will or amendment that you file with the Court. Copies are very difficult to probate.
  2.  If you die without a will in Georgia, the State will not take your property. If you die without a will in Georgia there is a specific Georgia law that dictates which of your family members receive your property in which shares.
  3. Your debts must be paid first. If you owe people money at the time of your death, your legal representative must pay any valid debts back before any property is distributed to your family or heirs through your estate.
  4.  Not all estates must be probated. There is no legal requirement that an estate must be probated in Georgia. Whether probate is necessary depends on what the deceased person owned at the time of their death and how they owned it.
  5.  You can plan so that your estate does not have to be probated. There are ways to set up your estate plan so that, at the time of your death, ownership of your assets pass by operation of law to your family or selected beneficiaries. One common way to avoid probate is to use a trust instead of a will in your estate plan. A well drafted and properly funded trust can eliminate any need for probate for your estate.