Probate Court is a court of limited jurisdiction responsible for the probate and administration of estates for Dade County residents. The Probate Court exercises exclusive, original jurisdiction in the probate of wills, administration of estates, appointment of guardians and involuntary hospitalization of incapacitated adults and other individuals. Kerri Carter is Judge of Probate Court in Dade County.
Duties & Responsibilities
All probate court judges administer oaths of office and issue marriage licenses. They may hold habeas corpus hearings or preside over criminal preliminary hearings. Unless a jury trial is requested, probate court judges may also hear certain misdemeanors, traffic cases and violations of state game and fish laws in counties where there is no state court. When authorized by local statute, probate judges serve as election supervisors and make appointments to certain local public offices.
It is a court of record; therefore, all documents filed in Probate Court must be recorded in minute books and kept permanently available to the public.
Qualifications for Probate Judges
Probate court judges are elected to four-year terms in countywide, partisan elections. A candidate for judge of the probate court must be at least 25 years of age, a high school graduate, a U.S. citizen and a county resident for at least two years preceding the election. In counties with more than 96,000 residents, a candidate for probate judge must have practiced law for seven years and be at least 30 years of age.
The Probate Court is committed to providing you with excellent customer service. We will be happy to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have about the services of this office or the procedures you must follow for a particular process. Please be advised, however, that state law prohibits our staff from rendering legal advice, restating the law or recommending specific ways to pursue legal action. If you have a problem involving the interpretation of the law, we suggest you contact an attorney licensed in the State of Georgia.
Funeral Home Requests
To obtain a disposition permit after hours please complete the attached Georgia Department of Public Health Form Permit for Disposition of Human Remains and email the completed form with contact information to ProbateRecords@DadeCounty-Ga.Gov. If request is made after 10:00 P.M. EST you will need to contact County Dispatch for immediate attention at 706-657-4111.
Georgia Probate Proceedings
Georgia Probate proceedings should be filed in the county of residence or the county where property is owned by the decedent. Court costs are set by law for the filing of petitions and proceedings in the Probate Court. A minimum deposit must be paid at the time of any initial filing with the full payment required before any proceeding would be finalized. The following information is a general listing of some of the available proceedings in Probate Court.
The Georgia Probate Judges' Council has created a series of videos that you may find helpful. These videos further explain available probate proceedings as well as the responsibilities of personal representatives after being appointed by the Court. https://georgiacourts.gov/probate/videos/
When there is a will
Solemn Form Probate requires that all heirs must be notified and becomes binding on all parties immediately upon the entry of the final order. Heirs may or may not be the same as beneficiaries under the will. The notice requires anyone having legal cause to object or contest the alleged will to do so before a certain deadline. The original will must be filed with proof of proper execution. Heirs must be served or acknowledge service. The court will appoint a guardian-ad-litem for any minor or incapacitated heir.
Common Form Probate is a procedure that may be done without notice to heirs but does not become binding for four years after an executor is appointed. This filing requires the original will and proof of proper execution. Heirs and others may file an objection or contest up to four years after probate.
Petition to Probate Will in Solemn Form and for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed If there is a will but the named Executor is unable or unwilling to serve, an Administrator with Will annexed must be appointed. Any nominated executor still living must sign declination, or there must be testimony that the executor is unable to serve. A majority of the beneficiaries may select the Administrator. The court will appoint a guardian-ad-litem for any minor or incapacitated heir.
When there is not a will
Permanent Administration requires that all heirs must be notified. A surviving spouse or sole heir is entitled to serve as Administrator, unless disqualified. Administrators must post bond, file inventories and returns unless all heirs consent to waive those requirements. Heirs may consent to grant additional powers and authority as well.
No Administration Necessary If all debts of the decedent have been paid or creditors consent or do not object after notice, and there is no other need for formal administration, and if all heirs have agreed on the division of the estate, this proceeding may be filed. All heirs must sign an agreement that disposes of entire estate. A court order will finalize the agreement of the party.
Whether or not there is a will
Year’s Support may be filed only by a surviving spouse or for minor children of the decedent. The petition asks that specified property be awarded to the spouse and/or children. Notice must be given to “interested persons.” Awards take precedence over any disposition by the Will and certain taxes may be divested by the award of year’s support.
Petition to enter Safe Deposit Box This proceeding is usually filed when a Will is believed to be in a safe deposit box. It permits the bank to open and examine the contents of the box in the presence of the petitioner. If a Will is found, the bank must deliver it to the Probate Court. Insurance policies may be delivered to named beneficiaries. The petitioner may only receive burial instructions and any deed to a burial plot. Other property must remain in the box until an Executor or Administrator is appointed.
Georgia provides Probate Court Standard Forms to be used for an initial filing in Probate Court. Standard Probate Forms can be located at: https://georgiacourts.gov/probate There are no standard forms for objections, caveats, answers or motions which may be filed. While you are not generally required to have an attorney, you are encouraged to seek legal advice on matters of legal importance. Please keep in mind, the Judge of the Probate Court is an elected public official with specific responsibilities and is NOT and must not serve as your legal advisor. The law requires the Judge to remain impartial. As such, the Judge is prohibited from discussing certain aspects of any case which is or may become contested with any party to the case unless all interested parties are present.
It is the responsibility of the Judge’s staff to process the paperwork filed in the office and to attend to the administrative aspects of the office. They can answer basic questions about petitions and procedures however, they also cannot serve as your legal advisors, and will not perform legal or clerical services for the public. They cannot advise you on which proceeding may be the most appropriate to your circumstances and cannot complete paperwork for you. Please consult an attorney for such advice. If you choose to proceed in Probate Court without an attorney, it will be your responsibility to determine the proceeding appropriate for you and to complete all forms. If the matter becomes contested, you will be responsible to prepare and present your case for trial.
Marriage licenses are issued:
Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Both applicants must appear in person to sign the completed application and provide any required documents:
If you have been married we must see a copy of your final divorce decree signed by the judge OR a death certificate if widowed for your last marriage.
Provide your social security number.
Present state issued identification or a certified copy of your birth certificate.
You may complete the Marriage License Application online or in person at the office.
Cost is $77 cash, debit or credit card*.
Weapons Carry License
WCL applications are accepted:
Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Friday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
New Applicant Requirements
New applicants must apply in person at the Probate Court office and submit to a fingerprint based background check. The application cost is $30 cash, debit, or credit card*. Fingerprinting cost is $50 cash and will be paid to the fingerprinting agency at the time of application. You must complete the application in the Probate Court BEFORE you go to the Sheriff's Office to be fingerprinted.
To save time, you may begin your Weapons Carry License Application online OR you can print and complete those forms in the links below before coming to the Probate Court office in person.
You must present a valid Georgia issued identification with the correct current address –OR- a certified copy of your birth certificate and 2 proofs of residence with your completed forms.
Renewal Applicant Requirements
Renewals are available to holders of a Georgia issued weapons carry permit that is valid and 90 days prior to the expiration date OR was valid and is no more than 30 days past the expiration date.
To renew you’ll need the following:
- $30 cash, debit, or credit card*
- A valid Georgia issued identification with the correct current address OR a certified copy of your birth certificate and 2 proofs of residency.
To save time, you may begin your Weapons Carry License Application online OR you can print and complete those renewal forms in the links below before coming to the Probate Court office in person.
Certified Copies of Certificates
To request a certified copy of a marriage license or application:
Request and pay by credit or debit card online OR Provide the following by mail or in person:
$10 money order by mail or cash, debit, or credit* accepted in person
Written request with the date of marriage, name of both parties (maiden and at time of the marriage) along with a return address if mailed.
Birth or Death Certificate
You must present a state issued picture identification of the requestor (a legible copy if by mail) along with a signed request with the full name and maiden or birth name of Person whose certificate is requested, date of birth or death, county of birth or death and Full Name of Parents.
*Fees for credit and debit card use will be applied by vendor