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Overview of the Georgia Court System

With eight separate courts in the state, the Georgia judicial system can be confusing for anyone without experience. To get a better sense for how they work, it is best to think of the courts as comprising four distinct tiers or classes.

The first class of court consists of five minor courts: the municipal courts, which handle traffic ordinances; the magistrate courts, which handle minor civil and criminal cases that don't need jury trials; the state courts, which handle minor civil and criminal cases that do need jury trials; the probate courts, which handle estate and probate law; and the juvenile courts, which handle issues involving juvenile infractions.

Decisions made in any of the five lower courts may be appealed to the superior courts, which handle more serious civil and criminal cases as well as some family law matters such as divorce.

The Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction over the superior courts, meaning that if either party appeals a decision from a superior court judge, the appellate judges may choose to uphold it or strike it down. Decisions made by the Court of Appeals may in turn be appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court, which handles administrative affairs for the judiciary in addition to being the court of last resort in the state.

Georgia Attorneys and Lawyers

When faced with a legal issue, contacting an experienced attorney is always the best bet. At LawInfo you can search for a skilled, Lead Counsel Rated Georgia attorney by location and by practice area. We have Georgia attorneys who dedicate their practice to specific areas of the law, so you will not only find an attorney, but an attorney who is knowledgeable to help you with your particular legal issue.

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Georgia Legal Forms

LawInfo offers free Georgia legal forms and documents to help resolve many of your issues on your own. Whether you need a power of attorney or you want to complete your will, we have you covered. You can click on our most popular forms located in the right column of this page. A user account is required to use the service, but it’s completely free.

Renting is often described as a good way to get some extra money flowing in and capitalizing on your real estate assets. While it is true that it can be a sound financial decision, you need to make prudent legal choices along the way. One such choice would be to use one of LawInfo's free Georgia Residential Lease Agreement as a template for a rental agreement with a tenant. Establishing a firm, legally binding landlord/tenant rental contract can help your peace of mind.

Another way to achieve peace of mind is to file a Last Will and Testament, which dictates who will receive which possessions and assets in the event of your death. If you die without a will, you are said to die "intestate," meaning that the probate court and intestate succession laws will determine who gets what. For greater control over your possessions, it is a smart idea to keep a Last Will and Testament on file.

Accidents can happen at any time, and it is important to be prepared. Power of Attorney documents allow you to choose who will have the authority to make legal, medical and financial decisions for you if you become mentally or physically incapacitated. You can find free Power of Attorney documents at LawInfo for you to fill out and file, giving you peace of mind that someone will care for you in a manner of your choosing.

Starting a Georgia Business

Planning to own your own Georgia business? If so, the best way to get started is to research the business environment in the state. You can visit the Georgia Small Business Development Center for useful information to get you started in the process. You should figure out a business plan and consider funding as well as figure out your target market and overall strategy before you begin filling out paperwork for your business.

The next step after you complete your business plan is to choose your business structure. There are several different choices, which vary according to liability and tax concerns. On one hand, if you have a sole proprietorship, you don't have to pay corporation taxes, but on the other, you put your personal assets at risk. A corporation goes in the other direction, with higher taxes but more protections for your own personal finances.

Georgia Business Statistics

Small businesses employ 44.8 percent of the Georgia private-sector work force. The unemployment rate in the state was an average of 8.5 percent through 2013, which is a full percentage point higher than the national unemployment rate. Georgia is home to nearly 938,000 small businesses, accounting for 97.7 percent of employers. The state's economy has been growing, with a 3.9 percent gross state product growth in 2011. Large business presence was also significant in the state. There were 3,856 large employers in Georgia, including major Fortune 500 companies Home Depot (HD), the United Parcel Service (UPS), and Coca-Cola (KO).