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Georgia Probate Courts have Exclusive Jurisdiction Over The Probate of Wills

In Carpenter v. Carpenter, 276 Ga. 746 (2003), Gloria and Steven Carpenter appealed an order dismissing their Caveat to the Will of Everett “Leroy” Carpenter. The Probate Court had referred the case to Superior Court where the dismissal occurred. In reversing the decision below, the Georgia Supreme Court held “Probate courts have the exclusive jurisdiction over the probate of wills. OCGA § 53-5-1(a).”

The procedure to be followed where a probate court judge is disqualified or unable to act on the probate of a will is set forth in OCGA § 15-9-13, as implemented by Uniform Probate Court Rule 3. That procedure was not followed. If it had been followed then the Superior Court judge would have been authorized to sit over the probate of Leroy’s Will. Since it wasn’t followed, because a superior court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the probate of a will, it follows that the judgment rendered by the superior court here was a nullity and void.

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