Georgia Small Estate Affidavit

 

Speak with a trusted Estate Planning Attorney in Cherokee County, Georgia.

Understanding the Benefits of a Small Estate Affidavit in Georgia

Explore the essentials of Georgia Small Estate Affidavit with Perigon Legal Services. Understand the process, requirements, and how we can assist in streamlining your estate planning.

Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on April 02, 2024.

When a person dies, their assets need to be distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries. Usually, this requires initiating probate proceedings, regardless of whether the person has a last will and testament in Georgia.

If a will is in place, the executor must distribute these assets accordingly. Without a will, their estate will be distributed based on Georgia state law. Both scenarios could be tedious, time-consuming, and costly. That is why some people prefer resorting to a small estate affidavit.

Although the process is expected to be simpler, a small estate affidavit does not apply to all situations. Do not worry; a probate lawyer in Atlanta can review your situation to see if you meet the requirements for a small estate affidavit. At Perigon Legal Services, our lawyers have vast experience in estate planning and probate and may be able to provide the guidance you need.

What Is a Georgia Small Estate Affidavit?

An estate affidavit is a legal document used to settle the estate of the decedent (the dead person). However, the term “small” varies for each state. In Georgia, the small estate limit is $10,000.

A small estate affidavit is also limited to personal property only. Real property, such as land or house, is excluded. These properties can generally be distributed to the heirs only after going through the probate process.

The legal basis for Georgia small estate affidavits is specified in OCGA 53-2-40. It deals with the following essential points:

Who Can File the Affidavit

An individual may pass away without having an appointed personal representative. The heirs of the deceased person can file the petition to request that no administration is needed.

Where to File the Affidavit

The petition will be filed in the probate court of the county in Georgia where the decedent was domiciled. If the person is not domiciled in Georgia, the petition will be filed in the county where the dead person’s real property is situated.

Contents of the petition

The petition must contain the following information:

  • Name and permanent residence of the deceased person when they were still alive.
  • Name, age, and permanent residence of the heirs of the decedent.
  • Description of the deceased person’s estate.
  • A statement confirming that:
    • The estate has no debt or no known debt.
    • All creditors have consented and will be served as stated in Chapter 11 of the 2010 Georgia Code.
    • There is an agreement among the heirs on the distribution of the estate assets.
  • A copy of the agreement signed by all the legal heirs, with a notary public or clerk of the probate court as a witness
  • If there is a deceased heir, an authorization for that dead heir’s personal representative to agree on the division of the decedent’s estate on the heir’s behalf

Georgia Small Estate Affidavit Requirements

A small estate affidavit can only be utilized by certain heirs, such as the following:

  • The surviving spouse of the deceased person
  • The children of the deceased person on a pro-rated basis
  • Parents of the deceased person on a pro-rated basis
  • Siblings of the deceased person

The following eligibility requirements should be met:

  • The deceased person’s estate’s worth is not more than $10,000.
  • The estate doesn’t have debts.
  • The recipient is a family member of the deceased person.
  • The decedent has no known last will and testament in Georgia.
  • The heirs have agreed on how the properties will be divided.

Rights of a Surviving Spouse in Georgia

 

If a will has been recognized and probated in court, the spouse will get what was stated in it. However, the spouse may still get more than what they’re given by petitioning for year’s support.

“Year’s support” is a permanent award of property from a decedent’s estate to a surviving spouse, minor children, or both, despite its misleading name. A decedent’s surviving spouse may apply for year’s support unless they have remarried.

The spouse may be directed to choose between year’s support or the terms of the will. Their decision will be irrevocable. It’s wise to consult a probate lawyer in Atlanta to determine which option is more beneficial.

If there’s no will in place, the estate assets will be divided based on Georgia intestate laws.

  • If the decedent has children, the surviving spouse will get at least 1/3 of the estate. The children will share the remaining 2/3.
  • The spouse will receive the entire estate if the decedent has no children. However, all creditors should give their consent.
  • The surviving spouse can also ask for more than what was given them through a petition for Year’s Support.

Claiming Deposits in a Financial Institution Account

Georgia State Law Section 7-1-239 provides a specific process for deposits containing not more than $15,000 in financial institutions.

The financial institution is permitted to pay the proceeds of the deposit once it receives the affidavit. However, only the surviving spouse, parents, siblings, and children can receive the proceeds.

The following eligibility requirements apply for claiming deposits in bank accounts:

  • There is no will.
  • The money deposited in the financial institution is the only asset.
  • The amount is less than $15,000

The Legal Process of Filing a Small Estate Affidavit in Georgia

 

Here are the steps when filing a Georgia small estate affidavit.

  1. Obtain the applicable forms from your local probate court. These include the following:
  • Banking affidavit of the living relative
  • Petition for order stating there is no administration necessary
  • Agreement and Acknowledgement of Service and Consent
  1. Sign the above forms in the presence of a notary public.
  2. Settle all funeral expenses and outstanding debts.
  3. Submit the completed forms.
  4. Settle the filing fee and pay additional costs as necessary.

How Perigon Legal Services Can Help

Are you unsure whether you’re entitled to a deceased person’s personal property? Are there other possible heirs claiming to have rights to the decedent’s property? The Perigon Legal Services may be able to help.

Our law firm comprises probate lawyers who are knowledgeable and skilled in dealing with small estates. We understand that it’s challenging to think about the documents while grieving the death of a loved one. That is why we commit to taking care of all the technicalities involved and overseeing the process.

We can also help out in other aspects of estate planning and administration, such as creating a living trust and last will.

Contact an Estate Lawyer for Advice on the Simplified Probate Process

 

A small estate affidavit lightens the burden of processing tons of legal documents and navigating court procedures. However, specific requirements must be met, and paperwork is still involved.

It’s essential to have a qualified estate attorney to ensure your loved one’s assets are given according to their wishes. It should also be compliant with Georgia state laws. Reach out to our team here at Perigon Legal Services today.

Schedule a Free Consultation

Use the form below to tell us about your legal inquiry, and we’ll call you back to schedule an appointment. Please be as detailed as possible. You may also email or call us to make an appointment. Our general response time is one business day.

* Please do not include confidential or sensitive information in your message. In the event that we are representing a party with opposing interests to your own, we may have a duty to disclose any information you provide to our client. *

Contact

Shape 1 min6400 Powers Ferry Road NW Suite 386
Atlanta, Georgia 30339