GEORGIA PROBATE PROCEEDINGS
“WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR LOVED ONE DIES”
PRESENTED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE BY
PROBATE COURT OF CARROLL COUNTY
There are a number of different proceedings which may be filed in the Probate court following the death of a Georgia resident or a non-resident owning property in the State of Georgia. Proceedings are filed in the Probate Court of the county of the decedent’s residence in Georgia or in the county where property of a non-resident is located. This pamphlet briefly describes the usual, initial proceedings. For each proceeding described, there is a standard form, which the Court will provide to any petitioner.
It is suggested that you discuss the matters of concern with an attorney who practices probate or estate law. An attorney can assist you in determining which proceeding is the most appropriate for your particular situation. Very often, there are other matters (e.g., tax returns, preparation of deeds, title transfers, benefit claims, creditor notices, debtor demands, etc.) which may also make it appropriate or necessary to seek the services of an attorney.
If you proceed without an attorney, it will be your responsibility to determine or select the proceeding appropriate to your situation. The staff of the Probate Court may not make the determination or selection for you, since to do so may constitute the unauthorized practice of law, a misdemeanor crime under Georgia law. Neither the Court nor the County can accept responsibility for incorrect decisions made by the staff, and they have been directed to refrain from giving that kind of advice.
It is also your responsibility to properly complete all forms, which must either be typed or legibly printed. The staff are not permitted to perform clerical tasks for the public. The staff will be able to answer any basic questions about the standard forms and about any deadlines for the filing of proceedings. They will also be able to schedule uncontested hearings and tell you how other matters are scheduled by the Court.
The Probate Judge is required by law to remain impartial to all parties. The Judge must treat every case as though it may become contested. Therefore, the Judge also may not advise you on which proceeding is most appropriate to your case. The Judge is prohibited from discussing the facts or evidence in any contested case with a party unless all parties are present. You should not ask to discuss your case privately with the Judge, and you should understand if the Judge stops any discussion which appears to require the presence of others.
PROCEDURES AVAILABLE FOR DECEDENTS’ ESTATES WHEN THERE IS A WILL
SOLEMN FORM PROBATE This procedure requires notice to all heirs and becomes binding upon all parties immediately upon entry of the final order. “Heirs” are those persons who would inherit the estate if there were no lawful Will; heirs 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 filed with the petition, and proof of the proper execution of the will must be provided by either a self-proving affidavit, Interrogatories or Proof 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. The requirements of providing the original Will and proof of proper execution are the same as with the Solemn Form Probate. Heirs and others 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 is either unable or unwilling to serve, an Administrator C.T.A (with Will annexed) must be appointed. Any nominated Executor still living must sign a declination, or there must be testimony that the Executor is unable to serve. A majority of the beneficiaries may select the Administrator C.T.A. The Court will appoint a guardian-ad-litem for each minor or incapacitated heir.
WILL FILED NOT FOR PROBATE If there is no property to pass under the Will, probate is not necessary. However, the Will of the decedent 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 Agent without probate being necessary. There is no cost to file a Will not for probate.
WHEN THERE IS NO WILL
PERMANENT ADMINISTRATION This procedure requires notice to all heirs. A surviving spouse or sole heir is entitled to serve as Administrator, unless disqualified; otherwise, the person selected by a majority of the heirs is entitled to serve, unless disqualified. Administrators must post bond and file inventories and returns, unless ALL heirs consent to a waiver of those requirements. If ALL heirs consent, the Administrator may be given additional powers and authority. Guardians of minor or incapacitated adult heirs may acknowledge service, consent to selection and consent to waive requirements, provided the guardian is not the petitioner.
TEMPORARY ADMINISTRATION Notice to the heirs is not required, but a majority of the heirs may select the Temporary Administrator. Powers are limited to collecting and preserving the assets of the decedent, and the Court may appoint a Temporary Administrator upon any showing of necessity or appropriateness. No expenditures or disbursements may be made without a special court order. Temporary Administrators must post bond and file inventories and returns. Guardians of minor or incapacitated adult heirs may consent to selection, provided the guardian is not the petitioner.
NO ADMINISTRATION NECESSARY If all debts of the decedent have been paid (or if all creditors consent or fail to object after notice), if there is no other need for formal administration, and if the heirs have all agreed on how the estate will be divided, this proceeding may be filed. All heirs must sign an agreement disposing of the entire estate; guardians of minor or incapacitated adult heirs may execute the agreement. Creditors who have not consented in writing must be given legal notice of the filing.
WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS A WILL
YEAR’S SUPPORT This proceeding may be filed only by a surviving spouse or for minor children of the decedent. The petition asks that specified property be awarded to the spouse and/or children. Notice must be given to all “interested persons.” Property awarded as year’s support is free of all unsecured debts of the estate and takes precedence over any disposition by Will. The lien of certain ad valorem taxes on real estate is divested by the award of the property as years’ support
PETITION TO ENTER SAFE DEPOSIT BOX This proceeding is usually filed when the Will is thought to be in a safe deposit box. It permits the bank to open and examine the contents of the box in the presence of the petitioner. If a Will is found, the bank must deliver it directly to the Probate Court. Insurance policies may be delivered directly to the named beneficiaries. The petitioner may receive only burial instructions and any deed to a burial plot. Other property must remain in the box until an Executor or Administrator is appointed.
Administrator The person who administers a decedent’s estate when there is no will.
Administrator With Will Annexed. The person, other than an Executor, who administers a decedent’s estate when there is a Will (the Will fails to name an Executor or the named Executor cannot or will not serve).
Decedent The deceased person.
Executor The person who administers a decedent’s estate when there is a Will.
Heirs Those persons who would inherit the estate of a decedent if there were no Will under the rules of descent and distribution. “Heir” does not mean the same thing as “beneficiary,” although an heir may also be a beneficiary.
Intestate Without a Will.
Letters Testamentary/Letters of Administration The official document issued by the Probate Court evidencing the authority of an executor or an administrator.
Personal Representative Any executor, administrator, guardian or trustee, but not a temporary administrator.
Probate The court procedure by which a Will is proved to be the valid last Will of a decedent; also used generically to refer to the legal process of administering a decedent’s estate.
Probate Court The Court having jurisdiction over proceedings to administer the estate of a decedent; also has other jurisdiction.
Testator A person who has made a Will.
Will A document, signed with the formalities required by Georgia law, by which a person makes disposition of his property, to take effect after his death.
PROCEEDING PRO SE IN PROBATE COURT
Please read this BEFORE “Representing Yourself in Probate Court Without an Attorney”
PRESENTED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE BY PROBATE COURT OF CARROLL COUNTY
NOTICE: Before proceeding without an attorney, you are required by this court to receive and review this brochure. Please read its contents carefully before asking the assistance of court staff with the filing of forms or pleadings.
GEORGIA PROBATE COURT STANDARD FORMS
Many of the usual and ordinary proceedings filed in probate court require the use of standard forms approved in accordance with the Uniform Probate Court Rules established by law. The Probate Court gladly provides to citizens of this County and to others desiring to file proceedings in this Court copies of the Georgia Probate Court Standard Forms as required by law. These forms are printed or reproduced at taxpayers’ expense; therefore, unless a true need is demonstrated, only one set of a requested form will be provided. Georgia Probate Court Standard Forms may be reproduced on copy machines, and exact reproductions are acceptable for filing in any probate court. The forms may also be re-created in computer word processors, but re-printed or re-created forms must contain a certificate that the content is identical in all material aspects to the standard form except for additions and deletions as noted.The standard forms are primarily for use in the initial filing of new proceedings. There is not a standard form for every possible proceeding or pleading which may be filed in probate courts. In particular, there are no standard forms for the filing of most objections, caveats, answers or responses or for the many motions and discovery pleadings which may be filed.
REPRESENTATION BY AN ATTORNEY AT LAW
While you are not generally required to have an attorney, you are encouraged to seek legal advice on all matters of legal importance. It is suggested that you seek advice in probate matters from an attorney who practices probate or estate law.The attorney can assist you in determining which proceeding is the most appropriate for your particular situation and can discuss fully with you the benefits, if any, in considering alternative proceedings. Very often, there are other matters related to probate proceedings (e.g.,tax returns, preparation of deeds, title transfers, benefit claims, creditor notices, debtor demands, etc.) which may also make it appropriate or necessary to seek the services of an attorney.
PROCEEDING WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY - “PROCEEDING PRO SE”
If you proceed without an attorney, i.e., pro se (a Latin phrase meaning “for one’s self”), it will be your responsibility to determine or select the proceeding appropriate to your situation. The staff of the Probate Court may not make the determination or selection for you, since to do so may constitute the unauthorized practice of law, a misdemeanor crime under Georgia law. Neither the Court nor the County can accept responsibility for incorrect decisions made by the staff, and they have been directed to refrain from giving that kind of advice.
It will also be your responsibility to properly complete all forms, which must either be typed or legibly printed, and to assure the sufficiency and accuracy of all required information. The staff are not permitted to perform clerical tasks for the public and cannot accept responsibility for determining the legal sufficiency of the information required for any proceeding or form. The staff will be able to answer any basic questions about the standard forms and about any deadlines for the filing of proceedings. They will also be able to schedule uncontested hearings and tell you how other matters are scheduled by the Court.
The Probate Judge is required by law to remain impartial to all parties. The Judge must treat every case as though it may become contested. Therefore, the Judge also may not advise you on which proceeding is the most appropriate to your case. The Judge is prohibited from discussing the facts or evidence in any contested case with one party unless all parties are present or represented. You should not ask to discuss your case privately with the Judge, and you should understand if the Judge stops any discussion which appears to require the presence of others.
Furthermore, if you proceed without an attorney, it will be your responsibility to make arrangements for personal service on all persons upon whom personal service is required, to assure the filing of a proper return of service on all such persons, to assure the publication of any notices not performed by the court or its staff, and to secure the presence of or interrogatories from any witnesses whose testimony is necessary under law or desired by you for the presentation of your case. If the matter is contested, it will be your further responsibility to prepare yourself and your case for trial, including the pursuit of and response to discovery.
It is the responsibility for all such matters which would be assumed by an attorney employed to represent you, and you are again encouraged to consult first with an attorney before deciding whether to proceed pro se.
PENALTIES FOR FILING FRIVOLOUS PLEADINGS, ETC.
Caution is particularly given to persons representing themselves in court that there are provisions under Georgia law for the assessment of penalties against anyone who files false, frivolous, vexatious or groundless pleadings. These penalties may include the dismissal of such pleadings, the assessment of costs of court and attorney’s fees against the offending party, and other remedies appropriate to the particular case. Additionally, there are similar penalties for the failure or refusal, without just cause, to respond to proper discovery requests.Generally, one must have “legal grounds” for objecting to or for filing a caveat to a probate proceeding. Because of the penalty provisions briefly discussed above, it is especially recommended that legal advice be sought before the filing of an objection or caveat to a pending probate proceeding.
There is a cost set by law for the filing of every new probate proceeding, as well as for most pleadings filed after the initial filing, including objections, caveats and claims.There is a minimum deposit toward costs required for every new proceeding which must be paid in advance. Unless otherwise ordered or directed by the court, costs are the responsibility of the person filing the original proceeding, and full payment of any balance due may be required prior to issuance of a final order.A party filing an objection or caveat to a pending proceeding or a creditor filing a claim must pay the fee for the filing of same before the court is required to accept it for filing.
Court costs are considered an expense of administration under law, having a priority over other debts and claims, and must be paid by the personal representative of the estate prior to the payment of other debts and prior to distribution to heirs or beneficiaries. The failure or refusal to pay court costs may result in the dismissal of proceedings, the removal of the personal representative or other actions by the court to assure and receive payment.
While we want to be of service to the public, there are restrictions on and limits to what the staff and judge of the Probate Court may properly do. This brochure is intended to help the public understand these restrictions. It is never our intent to seem unhelpful or uncooperative. Within these restrictions and limitations, it is our desire to be of assistance to all who come into this office. We do hope that you will understand these limitations. With that in mind, please let us know if we may be of further service to you.Thank you.
ALTERNATIVES TO GUARDIANSHIP AND CONSERVATORSHIP OF ADULTS IN GEORGIA
“Caring for the needs and affairs of
those incapable of caring for themselves”
PRESENTED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE BY PROBATE COURT OF CARROLL COUNTY
Is the formal appointment of a guardian or conservator by the Probate Court necessary to care for or conduct the affairs of an adult who has become incapacitated? The answer to this very important question depends on the circumstances of each individual case. Asking it is both appropriate and prudent, because adult guardianship and conservatorship proceedings are fairly complicated and time-consuming, primarily as a result of the due process protections afforded the proposed ward. They can also be expensive. This is not to say that the proceedings are overly complex; the legal protections help assure that the Court receives clear and convincing evidence of incapacity before removing the rights of an adult citizen and that the order issued in every case is “fashioned” to the particular circumstances.
However, there are often available alternatives to guardianship/conservatorship which may accomplish the needed ends in any particular case. These alternatives should be considered and should be utilized in every case when doing so would accomplish the underlying purpose AND provide any needed protection for the adult.
It is important to distinguish physical disability or incapacity from mental disability or incapacity. One can be physically incapacitated yet retain full mental competence. On the other hand, one might be mentally incapacitated but be physically quite fit and well.
The availability and/or effectiveness of any of these alternatives will likely be dependent upon the type and extent of incapacity. To be legally effective, any documents discussed herein requiring the signature of the adult must be signed while the adult is capable and competent to understand the nature and purpose of the documents. Proper preparation of the alternatives reviewed in this pamphlet may require the services of an attorney experienced in this field.
Georgia law defines a living will as a written directive instructing a physician to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining procedures in the event of a terminal condition, a coma, or a persistent vegetative state. It may also direct the withholding or continuation of food and water. Its primary purpose is to protect a patient’s dignity and prevent unnecessary pain and suffering at the end of life. Any person who is of sound mind may execute a living will. (Physical condition is irrelevant, as long as the individual is fully capable of understanding the document.)
The Georgia Code contains a form “Living Will,” which will be presumed valid and effective. There are specific provisions governing the execution of a living will, the types of witnesses required and a person’s right to revoke the living will. There are specific requirements in the law governing the conditions under which the life-sustaining procedures may be withheld or withdrawn. Those relying in good faith on the directive are shielded from liability. There are criminal sanctions against persons concealing or forging a living will.
DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE
The durable power of attorney for health care (DPOAHC) is quite different from the living will. A living will is a written declaration of a person’s wishes regarding life-support decisions. A DPOAHC not only contains certain declarations but also names an agent to make health care decisions in accordance with those instructions and to enforce the person’s stated intentions. It covers many more situations than does a living will and applies any time a person becomes incapable of making or expressing health care decisions, not just at the end of life. It may also grant authority to make anatomical gifts (organ and tissue donations), authorize an autopsy, and direct the disposition of the principal’s body. The appointment of a guardian for the adult does not automatically revoke a DPOAHC.
The Georgia Code also contains the form for the DPOAHC and sets forth the requirements of formality of completion and execution. If the named agent is available, the DPOAHC will supersede a living will. However, to cover the possibility of the unavailability of the agent, many attorneys recommend the execution of both a living will and a durable power.
FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
In addition to a health care power of attorney, one may also execute a financial or general power of attorney, which may be combined with or executed separately from the health care power. A financial power of attorney names an agent to act in the place of the individual, primarily in monetary and property matters, and defines the extent of or limitation on the authority given. The authority granted may be very limited and specific or be quite broad and include the authority to: write checks and make deposits; buy and sell real estate or other property or investments; negotiate and settle debts and claims; etc. Powers of attorney (both general and health care), executed while the adult is mentally competent, often allow for the conduct of all business and personal affairs of the adult once incapacitated without the necessity of guardianship. However, the appointment of a conservator for the adult revokes a financial power of attorney unless the court directs otherwise.
The Georgia Code contains a form for a Financial Power of Attorney and an explanation of the nature of the power.
A competent adult may also create an inter vivos, or “Living”, trust which provides for the handling of all or certain financial affairs by a designated trustee over property transferred into the trust. It allows one to specify the person or entity (e.g., a trust department) to handle the affairs and manage the trust property and may define the exact manner of property management. It designates a trustee with whom third parties may deal regarding financial and other matters within the scope of the trust in the event of incapacity.
REPRESENTATIVE PAYEE STATUS
When a person receiving Social Security, Supplemental Security Income or VA benefits becomes incapable of managing those benefits, the Social Security Administration or Veterans’ Administration can appoint a representative payee for such benefits without the necessity of conservatorship. If the person is a resident of a nursing or personal care home, the benefits may also be made payable directly to the care facility.
GEORGIA MEDICAL CONSENT LAW
It is also important to recognize that, in an emergency, the law allows physicians to treat anyone who is incapable of giving informed consent. In all non-emergency situations, the next of kin may consent if the patient is unable to do so. The Georgia Medical Consent Law lists the persons who may consent to medical care for another. Guardianship may not be necessary to consent to medical treatment, unless there is a dispute among those persons having equal voice under the law.
PLACEMENT DECISIONS AND PROCEDURES
Placement in a personal care home, assisted living facility, or nursing home often can be accomplished without a guardian, as long as the resident is either (a) cooperative or (b) incapable of objecting. A competent adult has the right to determine his own residence, and a facility is without authority to restrain an adult absent consent, unless the authority to determine residence has been placed in another (a guardian). At times it may be difficult to gauge whether a new resident will ultimately “object,” since he may be resistant at first but may adjust after a period of time and voluntarily remain resident. Of course, it is also necessary to make the financial arrangements for the care of the resident, which may be done by the resident (if competent), an attorney-in-fact, or by anyone accepting the obligation and guaranteeing payment.
In 1999, the Georgia passed the “Temporary Health Care Placement Decision Maker for an Adult Act.” Under the Act, upon certification by an attending physician that an adult in a hospital, institution, medical center, or other health care institution is incapable of giving consent to a discharge from such facility and a transfer or admission to an alternative facility or placement (including nursing facilities, personal care homes, rehabilitation facilities and home or community based programs) is considered to be in the adult’s best interest, authority to grant such limited consent is given to a list of persons similar to that in the Georgia Medical Consent Law. If no one authorized by such law is available or if all who are available waive the authority to consent or dissent, a petition may be filed in the probate court seeking an order solely authorizing such discharge, transfer or admission. The order will be limited in time to those purposes and does NOT result in the appointment of a guardian.
Of course, there are times when legal guardianship or conservatorship is needed and necessary. A Guardian is granted authority over the person of another, and a Conservator is granted authority over the property (including money) of another. The law provides appropriate protections for the adult, and guardians and conservators are monitored by and must file written, periodic reports on the condition of the ward and the ward’s property with the probate court by which appointed. The proceedings should probably be pursued as a “last resort” but certainly should be pursued when appropriate.
NOTE: This pamphlet is provided as a public service for information only. It is NOT intended as a complete statement of the law applicable to every circumstance. If you have any questions about the alternatives discussed herein and their appropriateness to a particular situation or circumstance or if you need assistance in determining whether formal guardianship or conservatorship is necessary, please consult an attorney.
GEORGIA PROBATE COURTS
PRESENTED AS A PUBLIC SERVICE BY PROBATE COURT OF CARROLL COUNTY
Probate courts in Georgia are courts of limited or special jurisdiction. Each of the 159 counties in Georgia has one probate court and one probate judge.
The probate judge is an elected Constitutional County Officer with a four-year term of office. Probate judges are the successors to the position originally known as the “Ordinary.” Before the creation of Boards of Commissioners which today govern the affairs of a county, the Ordinary was the chief administrative officer of the county and ran the county’s business. Many of the administrative duties and functions of the probate court derive from that fact.
There is a two-tier system of probate courts in Georgia. Pursuant to Article 6 in Chapter 9 of Title 15 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, in any county having a population of 96,000 or greater the probate judge must be an attorney of the same age and experience required of superior court judges. In those counties, there is an expanded or enhanced jurisdiction in the probate court, including the right to a jury trial, with appeals being taken directly to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court as appropriate.
There is a provision which allows a sitting probate judge in such a county who is not an attorney to continue to stand for re-election and serve if the county’s population grows to 96,000. Until an attorney is elected in such a county, there is no expanded or enhanced jurisdiction.
In all counties having a population less than 96,000, there is no requirement that the probate judge be an attorney, and most probate judges now serving in Georgia are non-lawyers. Appeals from the non-Article 6 probate courts are taken to the superior court of the county for a completely new (de novo) trial.
Newly elected probate judges are required to attend a New Judges’ Orientation Program conducted by the Institute for Continuing Judicial Education in Georgia (I.C.J.E.). All probate judges are required to obtain not less than 12 hours of continuing judicial education each calendar year while serving in the office. The Probate Judges Training Council, created in 1982, coordinates the educational programs for probate judges with the I.C.J.E.
Each probate judge is also a member of the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia, created in 1988 to further the improvement of the probate courts and the administration of justice. The Council receives assistance in the performance of its duties from the Administrative Office of the Courts. The Handbook for Probate Judges of Georgia and Georgia Probate Court Benchbook, authored by probate judges, are published by the Council.
Probate courts have exclusive, original jurisdiction over certain categories of cases involving decedents’ estates, adult guardianships, minor guardianships, and involuntary treatment of persons suffering mental illnesses or addiction to or abuse of certain substances. In addition, probate courts perform other judicial, administrative and ministerial functions.
The estates of persons who die domiciled in or owning property in the State of Georgia are primarily administered under the supervision of the probate courts. Probate courts hear and rule upon petitions to probate wills, petitions to appoint administrators, petitions for year’s support, and petitions for orders declaring no administration to be necessary. When required by law or a will, probate courts rule upon the sale and disposition of the property belonging to, and the distribution of, property of a decedent. Probate courts receive, audit and review the returns of all administrators and executors required by law to file reports with the court. The discharge or removal of executors and administrators and their sureties is within the jurisdiction of the probate courts.
Probate courts have jurisdiction over the appointment and supervision of guardians of adult persons found to be incapacitated by reason of physical or mental illness to such an extent that the adult is no longer capable of making reasonable and rational decisions concerning his or her person or of managing his or her money and property. All guardians of the person of an incapacitated adult are must file annual reports on the physical/mental status of the ward, and all guardians of the property must file an inventory of assets and annual financial accountings, all of which are subject to review or audit by the staff of the probate court. The discharge or removal of guardians and their sureties is within the jurisdiction of the probate courts.
Probate courts have jurisdiction over the appointment and supervision of guardians of the property of minor children. Guardians of the property of minors also must file an inventory of assets and annual financial accountings with the probate court. Probate courts may also appoint guardians or temporary guardians of the persons of minor children in certain circumstances.
Probate courts may order the assessment and evaluation of persons 17 years of age and older who are believed to be mentally ill and/or addicted to or abusive of alcohol or drugs and who appear to be a risk of danger to themselves or others. The probate courts in counties in which there is located a state regional mental hospital or a designated private mental hospital may also order the involuntary treatment of such persons for limited periods of time.
Probate courts perform other judicial and ministerial functions, including, but not limited to: maintenance and upkeep of all public records and minutes of proceedings in the court; acceptance and maintenance of funds, as custodian, for missing heirs and minors without guardians; issuance of marriage licenses; issuance of firearms permits; issuance of residency certificates; issuance of licenses to conduct business by veterans; issuance of permits to perform public fireworks displays; filling vacancies in certain public offices; administering oaths to public officials; acceptance, approval and recording of bonds of certain public officials; and the issuance of warrants and holding of commitment hearings. Probate courts may hear cases involving the removal of obstructions from roads.
Together with the Sheriff and Clerk of Superior Court, probate judges designate the official legal organ (the newspaper in which legal advertisements are published) of the county.
Additional Jurisdiction or Functions in Certain Counties
In counties in which there is no State Court, the probate judge hears all traffic and game and fish violation cases. Probate courts also have concurrent jurisdiction to hear certain other misdemeanor cases.
In certain counties, the probate judge also serves as the chief magistrate for the county and, as such, oversees the operations of and hears the cases in the Magistrate Court.
In certain counties, the probate judge serves as the vital records custodian for the county, maintaining and issuing certified copies of birth and death records within the county.
In certain counties, the probate judge serves as the superintendent of elections for the county, thereby having charge and supervision of all elections held in the county.
Many, but not all, of the proceedings filed in probate courts are initiated by the use of a Georgia Probate Court Standard Form. Those forms are available in the each probate court. They may also be accessed and downloaded from the Georgia
Probate Court Information System at www.gaprobate.org
Other useful Internet links include:
Administrative Office of the Court: www.georgiacourts.org
Georgia Supreme Court: www.gasupreme.us
Georgia Court of Appeals: www.appeals.courts.state.ga.us
State of Georgia Official Web Page: www.georgia.gov
Georgia Secretary of State: www.sos.state.ga.us
General Assembly of Georgia: www.legis.state.ga.us
State Bar of Georgia: www.gabar.org
American Bar Association: www.abanet.org
National Highway Transportation Safety Admin.: www.nhtsa.dot.gov
LIVING WILL AND DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR HEALTH CARE
Attached hereto are the Georgia statutory forms for the Living Will and the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. These are made available by the Probate Court of Carroll County as a public service for a nominal charge to cover printing costs.
NOTE: These are important, legal documents. They should be carefully and clearly prepared. You should carefully select the agent(s) to be named by you in the Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. It is very important that the forms be consistent; that is, they should not be internally contradictory nor in conflict with each other. Inconsistency and/or conflict may cause greater confusion than would exist without the forms. They must be properly executed and witnessed. Therefore, it is recommend that you seek the assistance or advise of an attorney if you are uncertain about the legal effect of these documents, if you are uncertain how to make clear your personal wishes with regard to end-of-life and life-support decisions, or for guidance in selecting the agent(s) to be named.
NOTE: Probate Court staff may not assist you with any decisions about the forms or the selections to be made and may not complete the forms for you.
Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care (pdf)
This document can be downloaded from the right sidebar of this page.