Jurisdiction Information

The following is an excerpt from "About Probate Courts in Georgia" by the Honorable William J. Self II, judge of the Probate Court of Bibb County, as revised by Judge Tate.

Probate courts in Georgia are courts of limited but exclusive jurisdiction over (a) the probate of wills and the administration of estates of deceased persons, (b) the appointment of guardians of the person and property of incapacitated adults, (c) the appointment of guardians of the property of minors, (d) the appointment (in certain circumstances) of guardians of the person of minors, and (e) the commitment for involuntary treatment of persons addicted to drugs or alcohol and/or suffering from mental illness. Probate courts also issue certain licenses and permits and perform other administrative duties.

In many counties, the probate court exercises limited criminal jurisdiction (traffic cases, game and fish violations, etc.) Some probate judges also serve as the elections superintendent and/or vital records custodian for their counties. In some counties, the probate judge is also the magistrate court judge.

The Probate Court of Athens-Clarke County is an Article 6 Probate Court (Title 15, Chapter 9, Article 6, Official Code of Georgia Annotated), which means that it has enhanced or expanded jurisdiction. Under Article 6, which applies in counties having a population of 96,000 or more, the probate judge must be a licensed attorney with experience and qualifications equal to those for serving in the Superior Courts of Georgia. Article 6 Probate Courts have concurrent jurisdiction with the superior courts in certain matters and may conduct jury trials in issues properly before the court. Appeals from Article 6 probate courts are directed to the court of appeals or the supreme court, as appropriate.