The Essential Guide to Understanding Probate Records

 

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When Do You Need Probate Records?

Probate records are typically public, which means that you can get a copy of a will or other estate document that’s been filed with the probate court.

Probate: Services Start At $3,500 (Pricing is subject to change depending on case specifics)

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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 June 17, 2020.

There are many reasons that you might want to access probate records. For one thing, probate records are used to administer an individual’s estate after their death lawfully. Among other things, these records can provide information about who owned what and when; this info can be helpful in property disputes, historical research, and more.

The Georgia probate court system was established to take care of the clerical matters concerning estates planning, inheritance, and granting specific licenses. Upon a Georgian’s death, the probate process transfers the legal obligation for payment of all outstanding bills and taxes, care and custody of dependent family members, and residential or commercial property titles.

Expert attorney Stan Faulkner of Perigon Legal Services will gladly help you navigate all of the steps involved with the probate process. In many cases, probate records are readily available as long as you know where to look.

In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss the basics of probate records, where to access them, and what type of information they contain. We’ll also highlight some tips on how to use probate records for research purposes.

What Are Probate Records?

To access these files, it is essential to know the following: What are probate records? The majority of probate records consist of the following:

  • Estate plans
  • Guardianship
  • Gun licenses
  • Marriage licenses
  • Wills

Probate records might not provide a specific death date; however, the death usually took place within a couple of months of the probate filing date. The administration clerks will be available to receive, docket, and bill incoming petitions, as well as take oaths of fiduciaries. No appointment is necessary.

How Long Does It Take for Probate to Be Granted?

Although it usually takes less than a year for probate to be granted, in some cases, it can take longer. According to the American Bar Association (ABA), the typical estate takes approximately six to nine months to probate. This is dependent on the complexity of the case based on:

  • The size of the estate
  • Whether a house is included in the estate
  • Whether there is a dispute over the estate among the beneficiaries
  • Whether there is a will

The probate process in Georgia can be anticipated to take anywhere from six months to a couple of years. Most probate lawyers advise that the process is generally more straightforward and quicker when there is a will.

What Happens When Probate Is Granted?

When probate is granted, it means that the court has officially given a person or entity the legal authority to administer the deceased person’s estate. Once probate is granted, the estate can be settled by following these steps.

  1. Gather resources of the deceased person, including bank account balances, bonds, business and residential real estate, cash, investments, possessions, and all possessions.
  2. Settle all outstanding debts and taxes owed by the deceased.
  3. Dispense the remaining assets to the heirs.
  4. Close the estate after all debts are clear and all assets have been distributed and all matters related to the estate have been settled.

This is done by the executor of the will or the administrators of an intestate estate when there was no will. A guardian or conservator handles the estate if the beneficiary is under the age of 21 or deemed incompetent. An experienced attorney can advise and represent you throughout the probate court process.

The probate process can be complex and may take quite some time, from months to years, to complete. The time it takes depends on the size and complexity of the estate, the specific laws, and procedures of the jurisdiction the probate is taking place.

What Are Probate Records

Expert Counsel for Probate Records

Are Probate Records Public?

Probate public records of wills filed are available to everyone, so it is relatively simple to obtain a copy. Those who may access them include:

  • Family

  • Friends

  • Loved ones

  • Neighbors

  • Strangers

Since probate records are public files, many people prefer the more discreet option of putting their estate in a trust instead. Although anyone over the age of 14 can write a will, only an estate planning attorney can produce a legally binding trust.

Public Probate Records Search

To access public probate records, you need the full name and probate case number from the relevant Georgia probate court. You can call or e-mail to supply the information and request a copy of the probated documents. To get a deceased person’s probate estate court records, you need the property’s lot number, which is often different from its mailing address. A real estate attorney can help you acquire the appropriate information.

Go to the county records office where the residential or commercial property lies, and use its computer system’s navigation menu to find the dates when the property deeds were filed. Then, manually go through the files and find copies of the deeds you were looking for.

How to Find Probate Records Online

Since it is likely the most convenient method, many people want to know how to find probate records online. In most counties, you can view the public records wills of a deceased person online for free. In many counties, you can also download and print copies of the documents.

Just choose which type of file you want to search for and enter the case number or name associated with the person. For information on marriage license records, browse by name or the date of the marriage.

To access the probate records, you must enter a minimum of one search value here. A reputable law firm can help you through any part of the probate proceedings.

How to Find Probate Records for Ancestry Research

Perhaps the reason you want to know how to find probate records is for ancestry research. These court records can be used as a family history library. The information you can obtain from public records for wills and probate estates includes the following:

  • Adoptions
  • Birth order
  • Date of death
  • Guardianship
  • Land and property ownership
  • Military service
  • Organization names and professions
  • Parents
  • Siblings and their partners
  • Spouses and children and home places for all called individuals

You can find information about the history of your house and other property in court documents, as well. Although there are many reasons to seek out probate records, researching genealogy is a popular one.

How to Find Probate Records Online

Probate Records Lawyer

Search Probate Records

Anyone can search probate records, as wills and deeds are considered by the state of Georgia to be public record. Copies are made whenever needed. Finding wills, probate, and deeds can be challenging and is frequently best delegated to a professional, such as a title search professional or a probate lawyer with experience in the last will and testament in Georgia.

The Process for Searching Probate Records

If you are unsuccessful in searching probate records online, you can acquire a copy of a will or other records from the courts either in person or via mail. You will have to pay a copying cost based on the number of pages. It is usually a few dollars per page. You need to send a self-addressed, stamped envelope with the payment to the courts if you are requesting probate records by mail.

Call the correct county probate court and ask how much it will cost to get copies of the files. Since some probate clerks are less helpful than others, a skilled lawyer may be more persuasive and can advocate your cause.

Where to Find Probate Records

If you are uncertain where to find probate records or are having difficulty acquiring copies of files from the courts, you should hire an estate planning lawyer.

Occasionally, records may have been lost or damaged, and the process will require assistance from someone with particular knowledge of the ins and outs of probate courts. A law office that specializes in estate planning and real estate is the perfect firm to help access probate records.

 

Contact Stan Faulkner of Perigon Legal Services for Help

If you need assistance with searching for probate records or navigating the probate process, contact attorney Stan Faulkner of Perigon Legal Services.

Our experienced team can guide you through every step and help ensure that the probate process is as smooth and efficient as possible. Let us take the stress out of handling probate matters for you so you can focus on honoring your loved one’s memory and carrying out their final wishes.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm today for assistance with probate records or any other estate planning needs. We are here to help! Visit our website for more information and to schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable attorneys.

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