2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 9 - Probate Courts
Article 6 - Jury Trials and Appeals
§ 15-9-127. Concurrent Jurisdiction With Superior Courts; Probate Court Jurisdiction

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-9-127 (2021)
  1. Probate courts subject to this article shall have concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts with regard to the proceedings for:
    1. Declaratory judgments involving fiduciaries pursuant to Code Sections 9-4-4, 9-4-5, 9-4-6, 9-4-8, 9-4-9, and 9-4-11;
    2. Tax motivated estate planning dispositions of wards' property pursuant to Code Sections 29-3-36 and 29-5-36;
    3. Approval of settlement agreements pursuant to former Code Section 53-3-22 as such existed on December 31, 1997, if applicable; Code Section 53-5-25 or 53-5-27 for which the settlement agreement would affect an interest in real or personal property to be taken by a trust designated in the will; or Code Section 53-12-9;
    4. Adjudication of actions concerning trusts, trustees, and trust directors authorized by the provisions of Chapter 12 of Title 53;
    5. Adjudication of petitions under Code Section 10-6B-16 to construe a power of attorney, review an agent's conduct, and grant appropriate relief;
    6. Adjudication of petitions under subsection (i) of Code Section 10-6B-40 to grant an agent authority under a power of attorney; and
    7. Adjudication of petitions for direction or construction of a will or trust instrument pursuant to Code Section 23-2-92, 53-4-55, 53-4-56, 53-7-75, or 53-12-27, or other applicable law.
  2. In civil cases, probate courts subject to this article may:
    1. Apply equitable principles;
    2. Hear evidence on and decide any contested question; and
    3. Issue such orders as are appropriate under the circumstances.
  3. Probate courts subject to this article shall have and may exercise the jurisdiction and authority conferred by subsections (a) and (b) of this Code section to the greatest extent that does not infringe the exclusive jurisdiction of the superior courts pursuant to Article VI, Section IV, Paragraph I of the Constitution of this state.

(Code 1981, §15-9-127, enacted by Ga. L. 1987, p. 912, § 1; Ga. L. 1989, p. 917, § 1; Ga. L. 1991, p. 810, § 7; Ga. L. 1998, p. 128, § 15; Ga. L. 2002, p. 1316, § 9; Ga. L. 2004, p. 161, § 3; Ga. L. 2005, p. 583, § 1/HB 406; Ga. L. 2008, p. 715, § 5/SB 508; Ga. L. 2010, p. 579, § 12/SB 131; Ga. L. 2011, p. 752, § 15/HB 142; Ga. L. 2020, p. 377, § 2-22/HB 865.)

The 2020 amendment, effective January 1, 2021, rewrote this Code section, which read: "Probate courts subject to this article shall have concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts with regard to the proceedings for:

"(1) Declaratory judgments involving fiduciaries pursuant to Code Sections 9-4-4, 9-4-5, and 9-4-6;

"(2) Tax motivated estate planning dispositions of wards' property pursuant to Code Sections 29-3-36 and 29-5-36;

"(3) Approval of settlement agreements pursuant to former Code Section 53-3-22 as such existed on December 31, 1997, if applicable, or Code Section 53-5-25;

"(4) Appointment of new trustee to replace trustee pursuant to Code Section 53-12-201;

"(5) Acceptance of the resignation of a trustee upon written request of the beneficiaries pursuant to Code Section 53-12-220;

"(6) Acceptance of resignation of a trustee upon petition of the trustee pursuant to Code Section 53-12-220;

"(7) Motions seeking an order for disinterment and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing as provided in Code Section 53-2-27;

"(8) Conversion to a unitrust and related matters pursuant to Code Section 53-12-362; and

"(9) Adjudication of petitions for direction or construction of a will pursuant to Code Section 23-2-92."

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 2004, p. 161, § 16, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "all appointments of guardians of the person or property made pursuant to former Title 29 shall continue in effect and shall thereafter be governed by the provisions of this Act."

Law reviews.

- For survey article on wills, trusts, guardianships, and fiduciary administration for the period from June 1, 2002 to May 31, 2003, see 55 Mercer L. Rev. 459 (2003). For survey article on wills, trusts, guardianships, and fiduciary administration, see 60 Mercer L. Rev. 417 (2008). For note on 1989 amendment of this Code section, see 6 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 342 (1989).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Declaratory judgment involving fiduciaries.

- Fulton County Probate Court had jurisdiction to issue a declaratory judgment in a case involving whether a guardian appointed at the request of the Department of Veteran Affairs could receive a bequest under the ward's will because the probate court had concurrent jurisdiction with the superior courts with regard to proceedings for declaratory judgments involving fiduciaries, pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 9-4-4. Cross v. Stokes, 275 Ga. 872, 572 S.E.2d 538 (2002).

Removal of trustee.

- Probate court did not have jurisdiction to remove a trustee. Moring v. Moring, 228 Ga. App. 662, 492 S.E.2d 558 (1997).

Successor trustee properly appointed.

- Probate court did not err by appointing a successor trustee pursuant to O.C.G.A. §§ 15-9-127 and53-12-170 as even if a corporation had not rejected the trust property, the corporation did not have the power to act as a trustee in Georgia since the corporation had not received approval from the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance to act as a trust company; a county board of commissioners was properly appointed as the successor trustee in spite of the corporation's speculation over a possible future event that might result in a conflict of interest. Chattowah Open Land Trust, Inc. v. Jones, 281 Ga. 97, 636 S.E.2d 523 (2006).

Province of probate court versus proper trial court.

- In a child's appeal of a trial court's declaratory judgment that the will of a parent was republished by a codicil and that a portion of a prior order of a probate court that the ex-spouse of the testator was to be treated as if having predeceased the testator was null and void was upheld on appeal as the issue regarding the construction of the will regarding the ex-spouse was a question of law for the trial court and was not within the jurisdiction of the probate court. Honeycutt v. Honeycutt, 284 Ga. 42, 663 S.E.2d 232 (2008).

Cited in Simon v. Bunch, 260 Ga. 201, 391 S.E.2d 648 (1990).

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