Local Court Operating Procedures
Although probate practice is essentially uniform in Georgia, there is a two-tiered system of Probate Courts in Georgia [See Useful Information], with certain different rules applying in “Article 6” Probate Courts. Additionally, each Probate Court will likely have its own rules and preferences with regard to the filing of documents and pleadings, the setting of hearings and trials, etc. There are, in Georgia, uniform rules of court applicable to the various levels of court. To access the Uniform Probate Court Rules, go to The Georgia Probate Court On-Line System.
The following local operating procedures apply to the Probate Court of Carroll County, as directed by Judge Cason. Compliance with these local procedures will assist in the timely and orderly disposition of matters filed in this Court.
Every pleading or document filed must be typed, printed or legibly hand-printed in black ink on 8.5” X 11” white paper. Pleadings or documents which are illegible will not be accepted for filing. This rule, of course, does not apply to original documents (e.g., wills and codicils) which may be in a different format required to be filed with the court or to documents, exhibits and other original things offered as evidence in a case. This rule applies to pleadings and other documents prepared for the purpose of being filed in connection with a proceedings pending in this court.
Georgia Probate Court Standard Forms [GPCSF]
For all proceedings for which there is a Georgia Probate Court Standard Form, use of the approved standard form is preferred. Any GPCSF which is retyped or recreated in any manner which alters the exact layout and format of the approved form, including by use of word processing software, must bear the certificate required under Uniform Probate Court Rule 21(E). For any proceeding for which there is a GPCSF, the form must be fully completed to the extent practicable and appropriate at the time of filing. Incomplete forms may be returned to the submitting party, without being filed, for completion.
Particularly with regard to will probate and administration proceedings where the GPCSF calls for the listing of heirs of a decedent, complete information (as required by the form) must be included when the list includes grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews and other collateral heirs concerning the deceased ancestor through whom those heirs are related to the decedent.
Payment of Costs
For most pleadings and other documents filed, there is a corresponding court cost. [See Schedule of Costs] Costs are due and payable at the time of filing, and, except when accompanied by a proper pauper’s affidavit, no pleading must be accepted by the court without payment of the cost. For new proceedings and for any filing for which the total costs is uncertain or cannot be computed by the staff at the time of filing, an advanced cost of $30.00 (plus certain additional fees as may be required for the particular matter) must be paid.
Unless specifically authorized by the Clerk or Judge Cason, no pleadings or documents may be transmitted to the court for filing by facsimile.
Unless specifically authorized by the Clerk or Judge Cason, no pleadings or documents may be transmitted electronically to the court for filing. Judge Cason will generally accept briefs and proposed orders by electronic transmittal.
Communication with the Judge
Judges are generally not permitted to have private (ex parte) communications, correspondence or discussions with persons involved (as parties or counsel or witness) in matters pending before the court or which can reasonably be expected to be filed in the court, except when all parties or counsel are present. Parties/counsel should not attempt to have private conversations with the Judge regarding a pending or potentially pending matter. Copies of all correspondence with the court should be sent to all other parties/counsel.
Hearings and Trials
Routine hearings are set by the clerk to whom a file has been assigned. The court holds hearings in all matters filed, except as directed by Judge Cason. Trials are set by Judge Cason or at her direction.
Guardianship and Conservatorship Cases
Proceedings for the appointment of a guardian and / or conservator for a minor or an incapacitated adult are among the most important and difficult cases tried in Probate Court. These cases are handled by the Probate Court of Carroll County in accordance with the degree of importance given them under law. Counsel involved in guardianship and / or conservatorship matters in the Probate Court of Carroll County will be expected by the court to prepare and handle the matter accordingly.
The Georgia Council of Probate Court Judges has produced two videos concerning guardianship matters, one applicable to adult guardianships and one applicable to guardians of the property of minors. Except when specifically waived by the court, prior to the issuance of Letters of Guardianship or Conservatorship, every guardian and conservator appointed by the court will be required to view the appropriate video and to sign a certification of the fact of the viewing. The court has facilities here for the viewing of these videos. Copies of the videos may be checked out for viewing outside this office by the payment of a refundable $10 deposit.
Each attorney filing a petition for the appointment of a guardian or conservator for an incapacitated adult or a conservator for a minor is expected by the court to comply with the following preliminary requirements concerning the proceeding and the process:
1. The attorney shall advise the nominated or proposed guardian or conservator of the court’s requirement that an appointed guardian / conservator view the appropriate video. In most cases, it would be beneficial for a nominated or proposed guardian / conservator to have viewed the video prior to the hearing or trial.
2. Prior to the hearing or trial, the attorney filing the petition must have viewed the appropriate video. An attorney’s appearance at the hearing or trial will be deemed by the court to be certification of the completion of this requirement.
3. Prior to the hearing or trial, the attorney shall advise the nominated or proposed guardian and conservator of both the limitations under Georgia law on the authority of guardians / conservators and the reporting requirements. Every appointed guardian and conservator for incapacitated adult will be provided a Handbook for Guardians and Conservators of Adults in Georgia. Attorneys who are not familiar with the limitations on authority or the reporting requirements should obtain and read the Handbook prior to filing the petition or, at least, prior to the hearing or trial.
4. The attorney shall advise the nominated or proposed conservator that a surety bond will be required in an amount to be set by the court. Arrangements for the posting of the required bond should be made prior to the hearing or trial. The attorney should not propose for appointment as a conservator a person who cannot post the requisite bond. Although the exact amount will not be known until the hearing or trial, the bond is set at the total of the annual income plus the value of all property and assets of the ward, exclusive of the value of real estate, and should be susceptible to reasonable estimation. The court will require that the bond be posted within ten (10) days after the hearing.
Guardians and Conservators appointed by this court are strictly monitored in accordance with Georgia law and are required to use the reporting forms provided by this court. Conservators are required to fully itemize all income and expenditures on returns/accountings filed with the court and are expected by the court to maintain full, accurate and complete records, to maintain all bank statements and canceled checks, and to retain all invoices, vouchers, bills, statements and other documents in support of all transactions at least until the return for which those records apply has been accepted, approved and recorded by the court. [It is recommended that all such records be maintained for a period not less than three years.]