When a Loved One Dies & Leaves a Will

Testate Wills

Learn more about the proceedings involved following the death of a Georgia resident or property owner, with or without a will.

Solemn Form Probate

This procedure requires notice to all heirs at law and becomes binding upon all parties immediately upon appointment of the executor. Heirs at law are the persons who would inherit the estate if there were no lawful will; heirs at law may or may not be beneficiaries under the will. The notice requires anyone having a legal cause to object to or contest the alleged will to file the objection or contest before a certain deadline. The original will must be attached to the petition, and proof of the execution of the will must be provided by either a self-proving affidavit, interrogatories, or testimony of witness. All heirs must be duly served or must acknowledge service. The court will appoint a guardian ad litem for each minor or incapacitated heir.

Common Form Probate

This procedure may be done without notice to heirs but does not become binding for four years after the appointment of the executor or four years after a minor heir reaches the age of majority as to that heir. The requirements of providing the original will and proof of proper execution are the same as with the solemn form probate. Heirs or other interested parties may file an objection or contest at any time up to four years after common form probate.

Probate of Will in Solemn Form / Letters of Administration with Will Annexed

If there is a will but the named executor(s) is (are) either unable or unwilling to serve, an administrator with will annexed must be appointed, also termed an administrator cum testamento annexo. If any executor is still living, the executor(s) must sign a declination or renunciation of his or her right to serve or there must be testimony that the executor is unable to serve before an administrator with the will annexed can be appointed, unless a named executor has qualified and then died or became incapacitated while in office. The formal legal term for this type of administrator with will annexed is an administrator de bonis non. A majority of the beneficiaries may select the administrator. The court will appoint a guardian ad litem for each minor or incapacitated heir.

Will Filed But Not for Probate

If there is no property to pass under the will and letters testamentary are not required to obtain or take control of assets, probate is not necessary. However, the will of the deceased must be filed with the Probate Court. Real estate, unlike joint bank accounts, may not automatically pass to a surviving co-owner. If the only property in the estate is an automobile, title may be transferable through the Tag Office without probate being necessary.