Mary Ellen Small

Broker Associate, REALTOR, ABR

My Blog

The Probate Timeline


The passing of a loved one can throw our world into orbit. Many times the grief process is accompanied with the added (and often unexpected) duty to take on the role of personal representative. A "Personal Representative", or "PR", is a person appointed to administer the estate by the probate court serving the county the decedent last resided. The personal representative can be the executor/executrix or administrator/administratrix, depending on whether there was a valid will, and if there was an executor named.

In Georgia, if a property is not in a fully vested life estate, there is a good chance it will have to pass through probate prior to sale. The PR will receive either "Letters of Testimentary," Letters of Administration with Will Annexed," or "letter of Administration", allowing them to administer the estate, distributing and often selling assets in order to pay the debts and expenses involved in the estate.  For many PR's, this is an enormous responsibility, and they suddenly find themselves overwhelmed. It is highly advised to hire an attorney for legal counsel during this process.

A real estate professional can be a valuable resource during this time.  In addition to providing market comparables and selling real estate, they can often help you by coordinating other services, such as locksmiths, trash removal, cleaners, appraisers, accountants, financial planners, contractors and personal property liquidators, to name a few.

Here is a typical timeline for the probate process to give you an idea of what lies ahead:

 Step                                                                                                                                 Duration

Prepare and File Petition for Probate

1-2 months

Court hearing on the Petition for Probate

2-3 months

The following are issued:  Letters of Administration, Orders for Probate, Duties and Liabilities, Issue Bond (if ordered), & **Letters  Testimentary **

2-4 months

(if not contested)

Notice to Creditors  

2-4 months

Notice to Department of Health Services Inventory & Appraisement

4-8 months

Pay State and Federal Taxes (if necessary)

6-12 months

Allow or Reject Creditor Claims


Possible Preliminary Distributions


Notice to Department of Health Services (if deceased received medical)


Notice to Franchise Tax Board (if heir is out of state)


Claim of Exemption (if assets transfer to a minor)

6-15 months 

Receive Final Tax Letter from State and Federal (if appropriate)

6-18 months

File Petition for Final Distribution and Accounting

8-16 months

Hearing on Petition for final Distribution and Accounting       


Order Approving Final Distribution and Accounting


Distribution of Assets to Heirs

9-17 months

Final Discharge Order (indicates close of probate case)

9-18 months

Final Distribution of Funds

9-18 months


CPRES SealMary Ellen Small is a Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist (C.P.R.E.S.) who understands the process of settling an estate through probate, conservatorship and trust, and is ready to help. Please feel free to reach out to her at or 404-395-1177.

The above information is for informational purposes only, and is not intended as legal advice.

Buying a Home in Winter? What to Look for


By Maria Patterson

While spring and early summer reign as peek home-shopping seasons, there’s no good reason why you can’t find that perfect house in the middle of winter, too. In fact, you might even get a good deal from homeowners who are anxious to sell as soon as possible and don’t want to wait for the spring thaw.

Looking at homes in winter, however, requires a different strategy, so consider the following before you start your search:

- Winter weather may prevent you from getting a good sense of a home’s yard, particularly, if it’s covered in snow. Make sure you’re informed as to the exact size of the plot, patios and decks, and ask your agent to show you pictures of the yard and home’s exterior in the spring and summer, if there aren’t any posted online.

- Ditto for the landscaping. If gardens are a high priority for you, find out which perennials, bulbs, shrubs and flowering trees are planted on the property, and whether or not the owner maintained a vegetable garden. This will give you a sense of what will emerge come spring and what your options are for further gardening endeavors.

- While you can experience the quality of the home’s insulation and heating system first-hand in the winter, you won’t be able to get a feel for the central air. Find out how old the system is, when it was last maintained and make sure the inspector takes an especially close look.

- The natural lighting in a home can be drastically different in winter compared to summer. Take time to notice the number of leafy trees on the property to get an idea of how much shade cover there will be when summer arrives. This will also give you a sense of the leaf clean-up job on deck for fall.

- In cold or inclement winter months, when people tend to hibernate indoors, you may not get a full sense of the neighborhood. Ask the agent about the number of and age range of children in the neighborhood, how active the community is, common traffic patterns and noise level.

The good thing about buying a home in winter is that you’ll be all moved in and ready to enjoy the warm weather when it rolls around. So throw on an extra layer and start your search!

For more real estate information, including a FREE Home Market Analysis and Market Area Statistics, please contact me at or on my mobile phone at 404-395-1177.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved

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