“Article 6 Probate Courts” refers to a probate court with expanded jurisdiction according to Article 6 of Chapter 9 of Title 15 of the Code, OCGA §§ 15-9-120 through 15-9- 127, which are probate courts in counties with a population of more than 90,000 persons according to the U. S. Decennial Census of 2010 or any future such census in which the judge thereof has been admitted to the practice of law for at least seven (7) years.
The general laws and rules of pleadings, defenses, amendments, counter or cross claims, third-party practice, joinder of parties and causes, parties, discovery and depositions, interpleader, intervention, evidence, motions, summary judgment, relief from judgments, and the effect of judgments which are applicable in the superior courts shall be applicable to and govern in civil cases before Article 6 Probate Courts.
In accordance with OCGA § 15-9-127, Article 6 Probate Courts have concurrent jurisdiction with superior courts in proceedings regarding: 9 (A) Declaratory judgments; (B) Tax-motivated estate planning dispositions of wards' property; (C) Approval of settlement agreements; (D) Appointment of new trustees; (E) Acceptance of resignation of a trustee at beneficiaries' written request; (F) Acceptance of resignation of trustee upon petition of trustee; (G) Motions for DNA testing; (H) Conversion to a unitrust; and (I) Adjudication of petition for direction or construction of a will.
At the present time, the following Georgia probate courts are classified as Article 6 courts:
Athens-Clarke County – Judge Susan Tate
Bartow County – Judge Barry B. Greene
Bibb County – Judge Sarah S. Harris
Chatham County – Judge Thomas C. Bordeaux, Jr.
Cherokee County – Judge Keith Wood
Clayton County – Judge Pam Ferguson
Cobb County – Judge Kelli Wolk
Columbia County – Judge Alice W. Padgett
DeKalb County – Judge Bedelia Hargrove
Dougherty County – Judge Nancy S. Stephenson
Forsyth County – Judge Lynwood D. Jordan, Jr.
Fulton County – Judge Pinkie Toomer
Gwinnett County – Judge Christopher A. Ballar
Hall County – Judge Patty Walters Laine
Henry County – Judge Kelley S. Powell
Lowndes County – Judge Detria Carter Powell
Muscogee County – Judge Marc E. D’Antonio
Newton County – Judge Melanie M. Bell
Richmond County – Judge Harry B. James, III