Administration of the Estate When There Is a Will An individual who dies, also called a decedent, and who has a will is said to have died testate. The will is usually offered for probate by the individual who is named in the will as the executor. The process of probating a will is the formal process by which the Probate Court determines a document has been proved to be the last will and testament of the decedent and officially appoints the executor or some other person to handle the distribution of the decedent's property. Even if the will is not going to be probated, anyone who is in possession of the will of an individual who has died must bring the will to the Probate Court for filing.
The will is probated in the Probate Court of the county in which the decedent was domiciled at death. In order to probate the will, the executor should file the original signed will and, in most cases, Georgia Probate Court Standard Form 5 (Petition to Probate Will in Solemn Form). The standard forms are available at the courthouse or online at the official statewide Probate Court website.
Giving Notice Notice of the Petition to Probate the Will in Solemn Form must be given to all the heirs of the decedent. In Part 3 of Standard Form 5, the petitioner must fill in the names, ages, and addresses of the heirs of the decedent. It is important to note the difference between heirs and beneficiaries. The heirs are the closest living relatives of the decedent. The beneficiaries are those people who are given property in the will. If a person is a beneficiary but not an heir, that person does not have to be listed in Part 3 of Standard Form 5. There are certain rules regarding the notice that must be given to heirs. If you need help determining the heirs of the decedent, you may consult the Rules of Inheritance page of this website, which has a text version and flowchart for determination of heirs.
Fees The filing fees for the petition to probate the will must be paid at the time the petition is filed with the Probate Court. The Probate Court accepts cash, money orders, or personal checks made payable to Probate Court. The fees are:
$159.50: Filing fee
$ 2.00: Per page filed, including the petition, the will, and pages the Court will prepare
$ 10.00: Certified copy of letters testamentary (each)
Interrogatories to the Witness of the Will If the will does not contain a self-proving affidavit, then the petitioner must file Standard Form 6 (Interrogatories to Witness to Will) at the time he or she files the petition to probate the will. The answers to the interrogatories to the will must be filled out by a witness to the will, but the top portion may be completed by the witness, the petitioner, or the petitioner's attorney. If the decedent is survived by a spouse and/or minor children, they may consider filing for year's support.
Some of the frequently asked questions about probating a will are answered on this website. You may call the Probate Court at 706-613-3320 if you have any procedural questions concerning this matter. Questions of a legal nature must be directed to an attorney.