- 1. Who is eligible to serve as the administrator?
- Any person who is age 18 or over and who is not incapacitated can serve as an administrator. The person does not have to be a resident of Georgia or a U.S. citizen. The person may be, but is not required to be, an heir or other member of the decedent's family.
- 2. Who decides who will be the administrator?
- There are two options:
- The heirs may unanimously select the person who will serve. If all the heirs agree on who should be the Administrator, then fill in that person's name on page 1 (Part 2) and on page 4 of the Standard Form 3. Also all the heirs must sign the Selection by Heirs portion on page 4 of Standard Form 3. If the heirs live in different places, you may make several copies of page 4 and have each heir sign a copy and have the signature notarized and file all the separate copies.
- If the heirs can't agree on who should serve, the Probate Court will choose the administrator. In making this selection, the Probate Court will consider, but is not required to choose, the decedent's spouse, heirs, a person selected by a majority of the heirs, a creditor, or other eligible persons. Even if the heirs cannot agree unanimously, the person who files the petition can fill in a suggested name on page 1 of Standard Form 3, but the Probate Court is not required to appoint that person.
- 3. Who receives notice of the petition for appointment of an administrator?
- Notice must be mailed to all of the heirs whose addresses are known. Alternatively, the heirs may waive notice by filing a written and notarized Acknowledgement of Service and waiver (page 4 of Standard Form 3). Also, notice must be published in the county newspaper if the identities or addresses of any heirs are not known or the heirs have consented to a waiver of bond and/or a grant of powers. Check the appropriate paragraph on page 4 (Part 5) of Standard Form 3. If publication is required, the Probate Court will collect a publication fee from you and will then handle the publication process. If there are heirs who are minors or incapacitated adults or who are unknown or whose addresses are unknown, a guardian ad litem must be appointed.
- 4. What are the responsibilities and powers of an administrator?
- An administrator is responsible for handling the decedent's estate - that is, for figuring out what is in the estate, for paying the decedent's debts and for transferring the decedent's property to the heirs.
The powers of the administrator are limited by law so that an administrator may need to petition the Probate Court to get permission to perform certain acts (e.g., to sell property) unless powers have been granted.
The heirs may choose at the outset to grant to the administrator the power to perform acts without first seeking court permission. This agreement to a grant of powers must be unanimous. All the heirs must sign and have notarized the Grant of Powers Form on page 4 of Standard Form 3.
If the heirs live in different places, you may make several copies of page 4 and have each heir sign a copy and have the signature notarized and then file all the separate copies.
If the heirs consent to granting powers, notice of the consent must be published in order to give anyone who has a claim against the estate the opportunity to object.
- 5. Must the administrator post bond?
- To protect the estate during administration, an administrator is required to post bond and to file certain reports with the Probate Court unless relieved. The heirs may choose to authorize the court to waive the administrator's responsibility to post bond and file reports.
This waiver must be unanimous and the heirs must all sign and have notarized the Consent of Heirs to Waiver of Bond on page 4 of Standard Form 3. If the heirs live in different places, you may make several copies of page 4 and have each heir sign a copy and have the signature notarized and file all the separate copies.
If the heirs consent to waiving the requirement of bond, notice of the waiver must be published in order to give anyone who has a claim against the estate the opportunity to object. NOTE: Before the bond can be waived, the court may perform a criminal history background check on the proposed administrator. The administrator may be required to sign a separate form consenting to the background check. The results of this check will generally be kept confidential, but they may be revealed to any attorneys or guardians ad litem who are involved in the process.
- 6. How do I determine the heirs of someone who has died?
- If you need help determining the heirs of the decedent, you may consult the Rules of Inheritance page of this website, which has a text version and flowchart for determination of heirs.