In Georgia, probate is necessary for all wills, including assets over $10,000. When a will contains property, it must go through common or solemn probate.
A will’s executor typically determines which option to pursue when submitting the will to probate court.
What is Common Form Probate?
When opting for common form probate, the executor appears in court to formally request the authority to distribute the deceased person’s assets to the beneficiaries. Most executors opt for this simple way to probate a will that does not require beneficiaries to appear in court or receive notification of probate proceedings before asset distribution. The heirs and beneficiaries have up to four years from the close of the probate process to contest the will.
What is Solemn Form Probate?
An executor may choose solemn form probate to avoid common form probate’s four-year contest window. First, however, all beneficiaries and heirs must receive a copy of the will and the court petition requiring them to attend a formal hearing where a judge rules on the will’s validity. This hearing is the only opportunity to contest the will, and individuals forfeit this right when they do not appear in court.
However, it is possible to contest a will that goes through solemn form probate by proving a lack of receipt of notification of the court proceedings. Under these circumstances, the rules of common form probate apply, giving someone up to four years to contest the will.
When submitting a will for probate, an executor must make every effort to ensure the testator’s wishes regarding property distribution.