The average length of time for probate in Georgia is 12–18 months. Conflict over the estate could cause it to take longer, as the executor must wait on the court to resolve legal issues. Estates that have unusual assets like race horses and collectibles may take longer as well because it’s more challenging to value these items.
The first stage of the probate process is appointing an executor. Even if the testator named someone whom they want to serve as their representative, a judge still needs to verify the legitimacy of the will. As long as the will is valid and the executor wants to serve, the judge honors the testator’s wishes. It could take six weeks to three months for an appointment. You could speed up the process by promptly submitting all required forms.
The administration phase lasts at least four months because probate law requires the executor to place an ad in the newspaper for four weeks and leave the estate open for creditor claims for another three months. Creditors have a right to recover their debts from the decedent’s estate, regardless of what their will states. Executors can’t distribute any assets to beneficiaries until they have handled the debts first.
After handling debts and filing the decedent’s taxes, the executor may distribute the remainder of the estate to beneficiaries as closely to the will’s terms as possible. It may take around one to three months for the executor to wrap up the estate and officially close probate. The executor must file a final report with the probate court to close the estate. As long as there are no legal objections from creditors or beneficiaries, the court will close the probate. Executors who make serious mistakes could face legal consequences. Thus, it’s important to ensure you follow the correct procedures if you’re an executor.
Because of the law in Georgia, it’s not possible to finish probate in less than four months. A reasonable expectation is at least one year.