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How Long Does Probate Take in Georgia?

Posted by Joel Beck | Feb 06, 2024 | 0 Comments

Dealing with a loved one's estate can be a challenging experience. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we understand the importance of clearly understanding Georgia's probate process. Probate, the legal procedure to administer a person's estate after their death, varies in duration based on several factors. We aim to support and guide you through this intricate journey, ensuring that each step is managed with both care and efficiency.

Key Factors Influencing Probate Duration

  • Presence of a Will: One of the primary factors affecting the duration of probate is whether the deceased person (the decedent) left a will. A will can streamline the probate process, especially if it includes certain waivers.

  • Waivers in the Will: If the will contains specific provisions that exempt the executor from certain standard obligations, such as posting a bond, appraising assets, or preparing detailed inventories and reports, it can speed up the process. These waivers reduce the administrative workload on the executor, allowing probate to proceed more quickly, sometimes concluding within six months.

  • Nature of the Assets Involved: The types of assets in the estate can also influence the probate timeline. For example, if the estate consists of straightforward assets like bank accounts or a home, probate might be quicker. However, suppose the estate includes complex assets like businesses or multiple properties in different locations. In that case, the process can take longer due to the additional time needed to appraise and manage these assets, or to handle a secondary probate needed to deal with real estate outside of Georgia.

  • Heirs and Beneficiary Cooperation: The level of agreement and cooperation among the heirs and beneficiaries can significantly affect probate duration. If heirs and beneficiaries are in agreement and cooperative, the process tends to be smoother and quicker. Conversely, disputes or disagreements among beneficiaries can lead to delays.

  • Intestate Estates (No Will): In cases where there is no will (intestate estates), the probate process can be more complicated and lengthier. Without a will, there are no predefined instructions on distributing assets, and there might be no waivers for certain probate requirements. In such scenarios, the probate court has to follow state laws to determine how to distribute the estate, which can prolong the process, and there's no fixed upper limit to how long it can take.

  • Location of the Probate (County): An additional factor that impacts the duration of a probate case is the particular probate court in which the case must be filed.  Each of Georgia's 159 counties has its own probate court. Some courts are busier than others, and that can certainly result in getting petitions and other paperwork approved more quickly, or more slowly.  For example, a probate court in a more rural area of the state may turn around initial petitions on a faster basis while busier courts in metro Atlanta may take longer, but this does vary from county to county.  

Challenges that May Prolong Probate

Various challenges can extend the duration of the probate process. These challenges include:

  • Disputes Among Heirs: One of the most common factors that can extend probate is disagreements or disputes among the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. These disputes might involve disagreements over the interpretation of the will, the distribution of assets, or the validity of the will itself. Such disputes often require legal intervention, negotiations, or even court proceedings to resolve, all of which can significantly delay the probate process.

  • Issues with Creditors' Claims: The executor of an estate is responsible for settling the debts of the deceased from the estate's assets. Part of this process involves notifying potential creditors and giving them the opportunity to make claims against the estate. Disputes or complications with these claims, such as challenges to their validity or amount, can prolong the process. The executor must ensure all debts and claims are appropriately addressed before the estate can be closed and the remaining assets distributed to the beneficiaries.

  • Executor's Awareness of Assets: An executor's unfamiliarity with the full extent of the deceased's assets can also delay probate. If the executor is not fully aware of all the assets or their locations, additional time and effort will be required to identify, locate, and value these assets. This is particularly true for complex estates that include a wide range of assets like real estate, business interests, investments, and personal property.

  • Notification of Creditors: A mandatory step in the probate process is for the executor to notify all potential creditors of the deceased's passing and the ongoing probate process. This is to allow creditors the chance to make claims on the estate for any debts owed. This notification process, followed by a waiting period for creditors to respond, adds to the overall timeline of probate.

Patience and Understanding in the Probate Process

For those going through probate, it's essential to have a realistic understanding of the timeline. Typically, a significant portion of the initial probate period is dedicated to notifying creditors and awaiting their claims. Each probate case is unique - some are straightforward and quick, while others are more complex and drawn-out. Patience is vital, and the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney can be invaluable.

Collaborate with Peach State Wills & Trusts

If you're facing the probate process or need assistance with estate planning in Georgia, our team at Peach State Wills & Trusts is ready to assist. We have experience in estate planning and probate and are committed to simplifying this process for our clients. Contact us at 678-344-5342 or online.  For more information on probate in Georgia, download our free guide here.  And, if you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached. 

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


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At Peach State Wills and Trusts, a division of The Beck Law Firm, LLC, we're committed to answering your questions about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, uncontested probate, and business planning issues in Georgia.

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