About Georgia Probate Courts

County probate courts exercise exclusive, original jurisdiction in the probate of wills, administration of estates, appointment of guardians and involuntary hospitalization of incapacitated adults and other individuals.

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.
In counties with population greater than 96,000, a party to a civil case may request a jury trial in the probate court by a written demand with the first pleading. Appeals from such civil cases may be to the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals depending on the particular matter.

Most 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 population over 96,000, a candidate for probate judge must have practiced law for seven years and be at least 30 years of age.