In Georgia, probate is a common court proceeding that could be necessary after the death of an estate owner. Probate will establish what’s known as an Executor (often a spouse, adult child or another close family member). This person will have the legal authority to pay off all taxes on the estate as well as any debts, and then he or she can distribute assets to the rightful inheritors.
There are costs associated with the process - it can be helpful to understand them. The cost of probate in Georgia can vary, and there are a few things that can affect the final amount it takes to get through the entire process, including:
Size and complexity of the estate
The county you open probate in
Whether or not you use a probate attorney
What type of Estate Plans are in place (or lack thereof)
If there is anyone contesting
Given all of this, it makes sense that the average cost of probate in Georgia can fluctuate.
Common Probate Fees in Georgia
Because probate fees in Georgia have a wide range, it’s useful to break down some common costs associated with the process. An uncontested probate could range from $1500 - $3000. If anyone contests the process, the cost could range from $3000 to more than $10,000. Fees to consider include:
Attorney fees (if you use a probate attorney)
Appraisal, Land Survey and Accounting fees
Executor fees/compensation - Georgia Executor fees are governed by detailed law; a general average could put the number allowed around 2.5 percent of the total estate value
Executor/Probate Bonds (price will range)
Common Questions About Probate in Georgia
How Long Does Probate Take in Georgia?
In Georgia, probate can be completed in eight months to a year. However, if anyone contests the Will, or if there are any other complications, the time could be extended substantially. The average time it takes to settle estates in Georgia is 12 - 18 months.
How Much Does a Probate Lawyer Cost in Georgia?
Probate attorney fees in Georgia will widely vary. The cost ultimately depends on how complicated the estate is and how experienced the lawyer is.
How Can You Avoid Probate in Georgia?
Probate isn’t always necessary in Georgia. For example, assets owned in Joint Tenancy with Rights to Survivorship can avoid it altogether.
Assets that have a named beneficiary - for example retirement accounts or Payable on Death (POD) accounts - can also bypass the process.
Life insurance policies and Revocable Living Trusts are other viable ways to avoid probate.
Finally, Georgia allows probate to be skipped even in cases where there is no Will, provided the following:
Every inheritor can agree on how to divide the assets
There are no outstanding debts
Creditors do not have an issue with there being no probate
What is Considered a Small Estate in Georgia?
It may be possible to use what’s called a Small Estate Affidavit in Georgia if an estate owner passes away intestate (without a Will). There are several stipulations to using the Affidavit, including a maximum $10,000 value for assets.
Who Pays Probate Fees in Georgia?
All fees, from Personal Representative compensation to probate lawyer fees in Georgia, can typically be paid for out of the estate.