Welcome To The Probate Court of Bibb County
Sarah S. Harris, Judge Probate
Bibb County Courthouse
Court Division Room 207 (478) 621-6494
Licensing Division Room 114 (478) 621-6493
Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
WHAT IS PROBATE COURT?
The Probate Court has exclusive jurisdiction over the probate of wills, the administration of estates, the appointment of guardians and conservators for incapacitated adults and minor children, and commitments to involuntary evaluation and treatment for people with mental health, drug or alcohol issues.
The Probate Court also issues both marriage and firearms licenses and performs a number of other administrative duties.
The Bibb County Probate Court is an “Article 6″ court and has expanded jurisdiction. Under Article 6 of Title 15, Chapter 9, Official Code of Georgia, Probate Judges in counties with populations of 96,000 or greater generally must have qualifications equal to those of a Superior Court Judge, including being a licensed attorney for seven years. Article 6 Courts have limited concurrent jurisdiction with Superior Courts and may conduct jury trials in some matters. Appeals in Article 6 Courts are directly to the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court.
The Probate Court of Bibb County will serve the citizens in an effective, efficient, impartial and professional manner to perform the duties assigned to it under the Constitution and laws Georgia.
Chief Clerk: Sherri Lanford
Chief Deputy Clerk: Donna Willingham
Chief Deputy Clerk LICENSING: Carol King
CLERKS CANNOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE
There are a number of different proceedings which may be filed in the Probate court following the death of a Georgia resident or a non-resident owning property in the State of Georgia. Proceedings are filed in the Probate Court of the county of the decedent’s residence in Georgia or in the county where property of a non-resident is located. For each proceeding described, there is a standard form, which the Court will provide to any petitioner.
It is suggested that you discuss the matters of concern with an attorney who practices probate or estate law. An attorney can assist you in determining which proceeding is the most appropriate for your particular situation. Very often, there are other matters (e.g., tax returns, preparation of deeds, title transfers, benefit claims, creditor notices, debtor demands, etc.) which may also make it appropriate or necessary to seek the services of an attorney.
If you proceed without an attorney, it will be your responsibility to determine or select the proceeding appropriate to your situation. The staff of the Probate Court may not make the determination or selection for you, since to do so may constitute the unauthorized practice of law, a misdemeanor crime under Georgia law. Neither the Court nor the County can accept responsibility for incorrect decisions made by the staff, and they have been directed to refrain from giving that kind of advice.
It is also your responsibility to properly complete all forms, which must either be typed or legibly printed. The staff are not permitted to perform clerical tasks for the public. The staff will be able to answer any basic questions about the standard forms and about any deadlines for the filing of proceedings. They will also be able to schedule uncontested hearings and tell you how other matters are scheduled by the Court.
The Probate Judge is required by law to remain impartial to all parties. The Judge must treat every case as though it may become contested. Therefore, the Judge also may not advise you on which proceeding is most appropriate to your case. The Judge is prohibited from discussing the facts or evidence in any contested case with a party unless all parties are present. You should not ask to discuss your case privately with the Judge, and you should understand if the Judge stops any discussion which appears to require the presence of others.
This procedure requires notice to all heirs and becomes binding upon all parties immediately upon entry of the final order. “Heirs” are those persons who would inherit the estate if there were no lawful Will; heirs may or may not be beneficiaries under the Will. The notice requires anyone having a legal cause to object to or contest the alleged Will to file the objection or contest before a certain deadline. The original Will must be filed with the petition, and proof of the proper execution of the will must be provided by either a self-proving affidavit, Interrogatories or Proof of Witness. All heirs must be duly served or must acknowledge service. The Court will appoint a guardian-ad-litem for each minor or incapacitated heir.
This procedure may be done without notice to heirs but does not become binding for four years after the appointment of the Executor. The requirements of providing the original Will and proof of proper execution are the same as with the Solemn Form Probate. Heirs and others may file an objection or contest at any time up to four years after common form probate.
If there is a Will but the named Executor is either unable or unwilling to serve, an Administrator C.T.A (with Will annexed) must be appointed. Any nominated Executor still living must sign a declination, or there must be testimony that the Executor is unable to serve. A majority of the beneficiaries may select the Administrator C.T.A. The Court will appoint a guardian-ad-litem for each minor or incapacitated heir.
If there is no property to pass under the Will, probate is not necessary. However, the Will of the decedent must be filed with the Probate Court. Real estate, unlike joint bank accounts, may not automatically pass to a surviving co-owner. If the only property in the estate is an automobile, title may be transferable through the Tag Agent without probate being necessary. There is no cost to file a Will not for probate.
Probate courts have jurisdiction over the appointment and supervision of guardians and conservators of adult persons found to be incapacitated by reason of physical or mental illness to such an extent that the adult is no longer capable of making reasonable and rational decisions concerning his or her person or of managing his or her money and property. Guardians made decisions concerning the person of the Ward, and Conservators manage and make decisions concerning the income and property of the Ward. Conservators must be bonded for the value of all income and personal property of the Ward, and Guardians may be required to post bond. Guardians an incapacitated adult must file annual reports on the physical/mental status of the ward. Conservators must file an inventory of assets, an asset management plan and annual financial accountings, all of which are subject to review or audit by the staff of the probate court. The appointment, supervision, removal and discharge of guardians, conservators and their sureties are within the exclusive, original jurisdiction of the probate courts.
Probate courts have jurisdiction over the appointment and supervision of Conservators for minors. A Conservator may be required if a minor inherits money or personal property not in a trust or under the management of a testamentary conservator, when a minor has received an award of damages in a personal injury lawsuit, or when a minor is the named beneficiary of life insurance or retirement benefits. Conservators must be bonded for the value of all income and personal property of the Minor. Conservators must file an inventory of assets, an asset management plan and annual financial accountings, all of which are subject to review or audit by the staff of the probate court. The appointment, supervision, removal and discharge of conservators for minors and their sureties are within the exclusive, original jurisdiction of the probate courts.
Under certain circumstances, probate courts have jurisdiction over the appointment and supervision of temporary and permanent guardians for minors. A permanent guardian may be appointed for a minor who has no living parents or, after notice to the parents without objection, when the parents fail to properly care for the minor. Permanent guardianship of a minor, though similar, is not the same as legal custody of a minor, which may be granted only by superior or juvenile courts in Georgia.
Temporary guardianship may be granted to a person having physical custody of a minor in need of a guardian. The consent of the natural guardian(s) must be given in writing or the natural guardian(s) must be given legal notice of the proceeding. The probate court may not grant temporary guardianship of a minor over the objection of a natural guardian. The natural guardian(s) of a minor is/are the parents, if living, or the parent(s) having legal custody of the minor if the parents are divorced or were never married. The granting of temporary guardianship of a minor does not permanently terminate the parental rights of the parents. Temporary guardians hold, during the term of the temporary guardianship, all of the powers of a natural guardian, which will include the authority to consent to medical treatment and to enroll the child in school. Temporary guardians may be required to file reports on the personal status and conditions of the minor.
Cash, Money Order, Credit/Debit card (with fee) only,
Payable to Probate Court of Bibb County
*** WCL Renewal: Any application made prior to expiration of the license or within 30 days after expiration of the license. Fingerprinting is not required only name and identifier check will be performed.
If you choose to be fingerprinted at a GAPS location in connection with your application for a Georgia Firearms (Concealed Carry) License. You must follow these instructions carefully in order for your use of this alternative method to be successful.
Locations change at various times, please refer to the GAPS website for a location nearest you.