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Answers to Common Questions and Situations

We know how complex and confusing probate situations can be, and did our best to organize an easy to follow knowledge base to help address some of your most pressing questions. Get in Touch
with our team if you still have questions or can’t find what you’re looking for.

What Is the Alternative of a Small Estate Affidavit in Georgia?

Do I need a probate for a small estate? Does Georgia have a simplified probate? Is there a small estate affidavit in Georgia? Which are the best alternatives to a probate estate? These are some of the questions our law office faces quite often.

When people die, their assets must be distributed to their heirs or beneficiaries. This often means opening probate proceedings, regardless of whether the deceased had a will or not. 

If there is a will, the executor is responsible for adequately distributing these assets. Otherwise, the decedent’s estate is distributed according to state law. 

Both scenarios can be complicated and time-consuming, so many people choose to use an estate affidavit instead.

What Is a Small Estate Affidavit? 

A small estate affidavit is a legal procedure allowing an estate’s heirs to bypass the probate process when distributing the estate’s property. It is used in some states, typically when the estate has little to no assets and few, if any, debts.

Unfortunately, we do not have a small estate affidavit in Georgia. As a result, this is not a process we can use.

However, we have a shortened probate proceeding called No Administration Necessary that can be used for very simple estates where there is no will, no creditors to the estate, and all parties involved will sign off on it.

This proceeding is not commonly used as there is a strict criterion on when it can be used. As probate lawyers, we have found that, in practice, this petition is not very useful. It looks like it would save time, but it often results in more complications than a standard probate process.

What Is a Small Estate Affidavit Used For? 

As the name implies, it is typically used with small estates. It’s a sworn statement, which means it must be filled out under penalty of perjury.

What Is the Small Estate Limit in Georgia? 

 

 

There is technically no small estate limit in Georgia. If the deceased had no will and the only asset is money deposited in a bank or other financial institution, and the amount is less than $15,000.00, an heir-at-law may claim those assets by completing an affidavit. 

*Please note that the bank is not required to provide the funds. 

**This statute is permissive, and it is not uncommon for a financial institution to refuse to provide funds until a personal representative is appointed.

Georgia Small Affidavit Requirements and How Do You Get a Small Estate Affidavit in Georgia

As mentioned before, Georgia does not have a small estate affidavit, but no administration necessary is a procedure we can use to shorten the probate process

If you want to use this probate petition, here are the eligibility requirements that must be met:

  • the deceased had no will, and all heirs must agree upon distributing the decedent’s estate assets.
  • there are no outstanding debts of the estate.
  • if there are debts of the estate, all creditors have agreed to the administration. 
  • there must be no pending lawsuits involving the estate.

If these requirements are met, then it may be possible to petition for no administration necessary.

GA Small Estate Affidavit for Bank Account

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If the deceased person:

  • had no will,
  • money deposited in a bank or other financial institutions is the only asset,
  • and the amount is less than $15,000.00,

an heir-at-law may be able to claim those assets by completing an affidavit for the financial institution without petitioning for Letters of Administration.

Under the Georgia State Law, which governs this situation, there are specific conditions for the financial institutions to pay the proceeds of such deposits directly to the persons who are so entitled.

*Please note that the bank is not required to provide the funds.

**This statute is permissive, and it is typical for a financial institution only to provide funds once a Personal Representative is appointed.

Do I Need Probate For a Small Estate?

If the deceased passed away with assets that did not have a designated beneficiary, then probate is more than likely necessary regardless of the size of the estate.

However, if the criteria are met, no administration necessary is a potential option.

How to Use an Affidavit for Transfer Without Probate in Georgia and How to File a Small Estate Affidavit?

This process requires an estate representative to fill a petition for no administration necessary in Georgia, but this is only possible under limited circumstances, and the requirements are strict. These are some of the steps that the petitioner typically needs to follow:

  • fill out a petition form provided by the probate court and a written plan showing how all the estate assets will be disbursed
  • attach a copy of the death certificate and any relevant documents
  • attend a hearing if required by the court.

If all the conditions are met, the Probate Court will order that the estate assets be distributed according to the written plan submitted to the Probate Court.

How to Get the Alternative of Georgia Small Estate Affidavit Form 

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Even if you can obtain a form from the probate court to fill out this petition, we strongly recommend getting the help of an experienced probate attorney

Georgia Probate Law Small Estate

 

Surviving spouse rights in Georgia

There are two situations when you can use this legal process in Georgia:

If there is a will:

If the will is probated and accepted by the probate court, then the spouse will receive what has been designated in the will. But the surviving spouse could also request more than what they are entitled to in the will by petitioning for a Year’s Support

It is important to note that if there is a will, it may require the surviving spouse to choose between the terms of the will and the Year’s Support. Once they make that choice, it is irrevocable. We recommend legal counsel to review those options.

No will

If there is no will, then the estate is distributed per the intestate laws in Georgia.

  • if the deceased had children, the surviving spouse will receive no less than 1/3 of the estate. The children would split the remaining 2/3.
  • if the decedent does not have children, the spouse gets the estate in its entirety once creditors are satisfied.
  • the surviving spouse could also request more than what they are entitled to by petitioning for Year’s Support. 

Affidavit of ownership in Georgia 

An affidavit of ownership is a legal document registered in the actual property records indicating that the remaining co-owner(s) of real property in Georgia hold the deceased co-owner’s property interest due to a right of survivorship. 

Does Georgia Have a Simplified Probate?

Yes, no administration necessary is a simplified probate process in Georgia, but it has specific criteria, and, in some situations, it can be more complicated than the typical probate process.

The Next Step

In this post, we talked about the small estate affidavit: what it is, when it should be used, what is the alternative to the small affidavit in Georgia, and who would be eligible to use it. 

Do you still have unanswered questions? Call us at (770) 796-4582, or use the form and set up your consultation to talk with one of our experienced probate attorneys.

Download the Georgia Probate Handbook.

Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.

    About the author

    Erik J. Broel
    Founder & ceo

    Erik founded the firm in 2009. He sees it as his personal mission to demystify the process of handling an estate or trust, and to help people by making the complex estate process simple and accessible. He believes there is always a better way to do things, and loves finding new and innovative ways to deliver better, more effective service that solves the client’s key problem or issue, and improves the client’s life.

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