The Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over Wills, Estates, and Guardianships. Court records, which date back to 1875, are retained in the court vault. Most records are public record and the public is invited to conduct research during office hours. In the probate of a will, the domicile of the testator at death, shall give jurisdiction to the probate court of that county. The domicile of the deceased who was in the care of a nursing home or other similar facility at the time of death shall be presumed to be the county in which the deceased was domiciled immediately before entering the nursing home or other facility.
In the appointment of a guardian of a minor, the county in which the minor is found, shall give jurisdiction to the probate court of that county. In the appointment of a guardian of an incapacitated adult, the county in which the incapacitated adult resides, shall give jurisdiction to the probate court of that county.
If you have any legal questions or concerns regarding an estate or guardianship matter, you may want to consult with an attorney.
For Standard Probate Court Forms and other information click on the following site: www.gaprobate.org
If you reside in Cook County and would like to file your Last Will and Testament for safe-keeping, the Cook County Probate Court can provide this service for a one time fee of $10.00.
Upon filing your will for safe-keeping, you will be required to seal it in an envelope and sign and date its entry into the court’s record book. Once it has been filed, it will be kept in the court vault for safe-keeping, and no one but you or your personal representative will be allowed to withdraw it.
Wills filed for safe-keeping are not public record
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the first legal steps I should take after someone dies?
The first step is to determine whether the individual who has died left a will. If there is a will, then the executor or some other person may offer the will for probate in the Probate Court.
Even if the will is not going to be probated, anyone who is in possession of the will of a decedent must bring the will to the Probate Court for filing.
If there is no will, then the usual procedure is to have an administrator appointed to take care of the decedent’s estate. Whether or not there is a will, if a spouse or minor child (under age 18) survives the decedent, they may want to consider whether to file for Year’s Support.
Do I need to have a lawyer?
People are not required to have a lawyer to represent them, but in most cases it is advisable to have a lawyer.
The Clerks of the Probate Court may not serve as your legal advisors, and you should not expect them to perform legal or clerical services for you. They work for and at the direction of the Probate Judge. It is their responsibility to process the volume of paperwork filed in the office and to attend to the administrative aspects of the operation of this office. They are here to serve you, and they will want to do so to the best of their abilities. They are not allowed to complete any paperwork for you, nor can they make a legal determination or advise you on which proceeding is most appropriate or advisable.
The information on this web page and the Probate Court Standard Forms are designed to help you perform simple filings on your own; however, if you find that the filing is more difficult than you expected, you should seek the assistance of an attorney.
When deciding whether or not to hire an attorney, you may want to consider how important the outcome of the case is to you. In a guardianship case, you are advised that an attorney will be appointed who will vigorously represent the Ward and who will oppose the guardianship if that is what the Ward wishes.
Can you give me the name of a good lawyer?
The court cannot recommend a particular lawyer.
To which probate court should I go?
The Probate Court in the county where the decedent was living at the time he or she died.
What is the procedure in the Probate Court?
First, a formal document, called a petition, must be filed.
For most routine petitions, you are required to use a form that is standard throughout Georgia. The forms are available at the courthouse or online. All forms must be typed and not handwritten.
If you have questions about what to put in a certain blank of a form, you should write down in your own words what happened (or what the circumstances are, or what other factual information is required).
Next, you file the petition and pay the filing fees. The clerks will tell you what fees are due when you have finished filling out the petition.
Notice is given to the people who might be affected if the petition is granted. If no one objects after notice is given and after the deadline for objections has passed, the Court will either have a hearing or will issue an order, depending on the case.
Can a clerk tell me if I filled out a form correctly?
A clerk cannot tell you whether the information you have provided is complete or correct; only you know whether it is correct or complete.
Can I see the Judge before the hearing takes place?
The judge talks with all parties in a case at the same time. You would not want the judge to be talking to the other side about your case if you were not present. You will be notified by mail when the case is scheduled for a hearing. Then you can talk to the judge.
What will happen in court?
The judge will call on the petitioner(s) to present their case first. Each witness will be questioned in turn. Then, the judge will call on the other side to present its case. The lawyers and the judge will ask questions if needed. After all evidence, the judge will either announce his decision or that he will consider it further. A written order will then be issued.
What happens if I don't go to the hearing?
The judge will decide the case based on the evidence presented at the hearing. If another party objects to your petition, or if you are the only one objecting, and you present no evidence, you run the risk of losing your case.