How to petition for an order declaring no administration necessary (in Georgia)
Understand when to petition for an order that no administration is necessary ("an order DNAN").Often, an order DNAN is used where there is a piece of real property still titled in the name of an individual long deceased, who left no will but only has one or at most a few heirs still living. It can be a useful way to pass along the real estate without other cumbersome probate proceedings and fees.
But petitions for an order DNAN can be used in other circumstances too. Generall you may not petition for an order DNAN if the deceased left a will or if the heirs are not agreed as to how the property will be split up. Naturally, you may not use this petition if you are not an heir of the deceased. The petition can and should be considered, however, if the decedent has only one or a few heirs; there are only a few (or one) piece(s) of property to distribute; and there is no need for an appointed fiduciary. (An appointed fiduciary is needed when, for example, a financial institution holds accounts and is awaiting guidance from an individual empowered to deal with the estate).
Find descriptions and deeds to the real property to be distributed.It is not enough to put in a petition for an order DNAN the street address of the parcel or parcels of land to be distributed. You will need to obtain a legal description of the land. This can be done by hiring a surveyor and attorney, but the simpler method is to find the latest deed to the property and use the description in it. Deeds are found in the clerk of superior court's records room in the county where the land is located and are indexed alphabetically by year according to the name of property's grantor and grantee. Rather than going to the county deed room, you can subscribe to the website www.gsccca.org (presently $9.95/month) and look up deeds by name by county. If your deed is fewer than 15 years old, you should be able to find it on this site.
Obtain uniform probate court form 9.The uniform probate petition for an order DNAN can be found at http://gaprobate.org/forms_word.php. Once at this site, go ahead and download a Word document and not a .pdf, because you will typically need to edit it more than the "fillable .pdf" files will allow.
Determine the heirs of the deceased and obtain agreement.Be sure that those petitioning constitute all the heirs of the deceased. In Georgia, a person's spouse and children are his heirs in the first instance, and if none there be, then his parents, and if they are deceased, then his siblings, and so on. The complete scheme is laid out in the Georgia Code in section 53-2-1, which is accessible for free here: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/gacode/ .
Obtain consent of creditors.I frankly don't like to use a petition for an order DNAN if there are major outstanding debts of the deceased, because creditors are allowed to follow those debts to the distributees of the estate pursuant to OCGA 53-3-42.
However, if there is only one debt (as with a mortgage on some real property), or if the debts are small, you may wish to proceed, having first obtained the consent of the creditors. There is no simple way to do this. Often, it will involve numerous conversations with various layers of bank bureaucracy, etc.
Fill out form 9.The instructions to this form are fairly plain. If the legal descriptions to the real property you find in deeds are quite long, then you will want to attach additional sheets when you get to question 5.
As stated, I do not advise dealing with an estate where there are creditors that have not consented to the order DNAN, so you will not have to bother with orders for notice and certificates of mailing. Do obtain the notarized consent of each heir. There is no point in trying to file the form with the probate court until you have done this.
Contact the probate court.Call the probate court in the county in which the deceased lived just before he passed away. That's where you'll need to file this petition. You will need to ask them
1. Whether a death certificate must be filed with the petition (almost every Georgia county requires this now);
2. What the filing fee will be. (Expect somewhere between $150 and $200. Copies cost extra, so offer to copy the petition yourself before filing. Have a count of page numbers ready so that the clerk can tel you the total filing cost);
3. When is a good time to appear and present the petition. (Many courts require you make an appointment with the chief clerk or probate judge).
Submit the petition;Bring the completed petition, along with a check for your filing fee, and the death certificate (if necessary) to the probate court. Be sure that the court is made aware of any property owned by the deceased located in another Georgia county.
Bring a complete copy of your petition as well, and once you have delivered the original to the clerk or probate judge, ask that your copy be file-stamped, indicating the date and time it was received, along with the probate court file number. You will retain this copy for reference in case concerns crop up later on.
Follow up to ensure proper filing in the deed records.Your job is not quite done once the petition is submitted. Once the petition is granted , the court's final order is recorded in every county where the decedent owned real property. You will need to follow up to ensure this recording was done properly.
The problem is that some deed clerks have no idea how to properly record orders DNAN. You will want to call the clerk(s) of court of the relevant count(ies) two or three weeks after the order has been granted by the probate court and ensure that 1. they got the order and 2. they properly listed the deceased as the "grantor' of the real estate in the deed index and the heirs as the "grantees." Furthermore, the "final order" portion of the petition is the part that positively must be recorded.
In any event, it's very important that the deed room recording is properly done. Be wiling to pay a lawyer to straighten things out if it is not