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Can an heir who is in France sign and notarize the Acknowl'ment of Service and Assent to Probate Instanter while she is abroad?

Decatur, GA |

I am named as executor and would like to get the probate process started. My mother is sole beneficiary under the will and there are only three other heirs (me, my brother and sister). My brother is out of state and my sister in France until end of September. The form seems to require the Probate court to notarize their signatures. How do I deal with this?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    The lawyers above have provided some great answers. My office dealt with this same issue (in France nonetheless) not too long ago. I'll add a little bit of practical advice based on our experience with the issue.

    Georgia probate law does not require that an heir be in Georgia, or even in the United States in order to consent to a probate petition, or participate in probating an estate. All that Georgia probate law requires is that the signature of the person signing the consent be notarized. As a result, legally, there is no problem with having someone in a foreign county consent to a probate petition.

    As a practical matter, however, there can be some interesting challenges. The practical problem we faced was that we could not find a French notary that was willing notarize the document unless it was in French. Unfortunately, if the consent were translated to French and signed, then the local probate court would not acept it because it was not in English. The only practical solution to this type of delimma is to have the person located in the foreign county go to the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate to have the document notarized and sent back to the U.S.

    Based on that experience, our office recommends that our clients have foreign heirs go to the U.S Embassy or Consulate first to save time an energy.

    I am not providing you with legal advice, but am simply providing general information. We do not have an attorney / client relationship simply by virtue of my responding to this question. An attorney / client relationship will only arise when you and I enter into a written engagement agreement.


  2. You may be able to find a notary at the US Embassy. Otherwise, the court will probably accept an apostile, which is a form of verification.

    Please note that I am answering this question as a service through Avvo but not as your attorney and no attorney-client relationship is established by this posting. An attorney-client relationship can only be established through signing a Fee Agreement and paying the necessary advanced fees.


  3. France, as a Civil Law country, has officials called "notaires" who can perform the authenication service required for the acknowledgement of service and assent to probate. A notary in a Civil Law country is a higher status official than our notaries, and your sister should expect to pay a fee for authentication services. My colleague has also pointed out that the U.S. Embassy can perform that service as well.


  4. I agree with the other attorneys re the use of the US embassy. I am not a GA attorney but we have similar forms in PA and NJ and usually they have one form if it is notarized before the Probate court and one if it is notarized elsewhere.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is informational in nature only. This attorney may not be licensed in the jurisdiction which you have a question about so the answer could be only general in nature. Visit Steve Zelinger's website: http://www.stevenzelinger.com/


  5. The US embassy or consulate will notarize papers for a minimal fee. France also has notaries, which generally charge more than American ones but have a similar seal. Those are fine as well.

    If you find this answer helpful, please mark it here on AVVO as helpful. In answering you, I am attempting to communicate general legal information and am not representing you (and am not your lawyer). Do feel free to call me at 404-768-3509 if you wish to discuss actual representation (the phone call also does not retain counsel; that requires an office visit and appropriate paperwork). In that a forum such as this provides me with limited details and doesn't allow me to review details and documents, it is possible that answers here, while meant to be helpful, may in some cases not be complete or accurate, and I highly recommend that you retain legal counsel rather than rely on the answers here. (You can also email my office at geaatl@msn.com . An email also does not retain my office, but can help you get an appointment set if you prefer not to call). I am happy to discuss possible representation with you. Any information in this communication is for discussion purposes only, and is not offered as legal advice. There is no right to rely on the information contained in this communication and no attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in my answer should be considered as tax-advice. To ensure compliance with IRS Circular 230, any U.S. federal tax advice provided in this communication is not intended or written to be used, and it cannot be used by the recipient or any other taxpayer (i) for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties that may be imposed on the recipient or any other taxpayer, or (ii) in promoting, marketing or recommending to another party a partnership or other entity, investment plan, arrangement or other transaction addressed herein. Note that I am only licensed in Georgia and thus cannot practice in other states. I am also required to advise you, if your question concerns bankruptcy, that the U.S. Congress has designated Ashman Law Office as a debt relief agency that can help people file bankruptcy.


  6. I agree with the other responses about who can notarize your sister's signature. I just wanted to also point out that the form indicates that either the clerk of court OR a notary can notarize the heirs' signatures - not just that the court has to do it.

    This answer is not intended to provide you with specific legal advice regarding your situation, or to create any attorney-client relationship. The intent is only to provide general information. You should be aware that you cannot rely on this answer to provide you with any protection against tax penalties. You should always consult your own attorney in order to obtain legal advice.

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