The administration of a loved one’s estate can be confusing, time consuming and expensive. It is made more difficult by the grief of losing a loved one. Our experience in estate matters helps to simplify the process and avoid costly mistakes and delays.

Probate—The court-supervised process to identify and gather a decedent’s assets, pay taxes, creditor claims and expenses, and distribute assets to the beneficiaries. The Executor named in the Will must petition the Probate Court to probate the Will. Once the Will is admitted to probate and the Executor appointed by the Court, the estate can be fully administered per the decedent’s wishes stated in the Will.

Administration—The court-supervised process to identify and gather a decedent’s assets, pay taxes and expenses, and distribute to the heirs. An administration occurs when the decedent dies “intestate” -- without leaving a Last Will and Testament. An interested person must petition to be appointed as Administrator, and the appointment process, as well as the process to probate the estate, is more demanding. Administration requires detailed inventories, annual reports, and distributing to heirs per Georgia intestacy laws. Administering estates can become more complex with the multiplicity of heirs, assets situated in multiple states, and located missing assets.


Incapacitated Adults—As our loved one age, sometimes they come to the point where they need some help. Guardianship is the legal process by which an adult is declared incapacitated. A guardian is appointed to manage the ward’s physical care, and a conservator appointed to manage the ward’s property. The circumstances that lead to a guardianship are often emotionally difficult and complicated. After the appointment, the work continues with court-supervision of the ward’s care and property, specific forms must be completed and approved for various issues, such as the settlement of a lawsuit, transferring certain assets, and modifications. The guardian and conservator are legally responsible to follow all provisions of the guardianship code. With our experience in guardianships we can help you navigate through the process of appointment and ongoing fiduciary management. We can also help you avoid a guardianship proceeding with proper planning.

Minors—Sometimes it becomes necessary to obtain a guardianship for minor children. The process of filing for legal guardianship, temporary or permanent, can be done in one of several courts.


“Gail Drake not only handled my delicate family situation with the utmost competence and professionalism, but she was kind and understanding. She never let me lose perspective on why I was pursuing this case, and in the end I consider my experience with her among my most treasured blessings.”—Margaret B.

“Gail is an extremely determined, hardworking and knowledgeable individual, and the most ethical person anyone could ask to have represent them. I speak for our entire family that her contributions and diligence in getting our case resolved amicably and quickly is most appreciated.”—Jerry H.

“I’ve known Gail Drake for several years as she appeared in my court. She is knowledgeable as an attorney, compassionate with those who come to her, she listens.”—The Honorable Sheryl Hall (ret.), Worth County Probate Court

Family Law

Adoption—One of the happiest occurrences in law is the legal creation of a new family for a child and parents. The process of adoption is specific with mandatory provisions in order to protect the rights of all the parties, including the adopting parents, the birth parents, and most of all, the best interests of the child being adopted. Additional considerations include legal notification of certain parties, inquiries as to Native American and military parentage. Having joined families by adoptions for several years, we can assist you through the detailed process of adoption.

Custody—This firm will assist with establishing custody when there is a child in need of a home, and a parent is absent. The petition for custody requires specific documents that address issues of child support and visitation. This firm does not engage in custody disputes between parents.

Legitimation—is the legal process by which a biological father, who is not married to the birth mother, can petition for recognition as a child’s father and legitimate the child. This process grants the birth father rights with regard to the child. The petition for legitimation likewise requires specific documentation that addresses child support and visitation.

Gail Drake is certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist by NACC.

Estate Planning

You can give yourself and your family peace of mind by planning for your estate with certain instruments, drafted to suit your particular needs and desires.

Last Will and Testament—specifies your wishes as to who you choose to administer your estate, and who you want to receive your assets after your death. Your Will can include bequests of specific property to particular loved ones. Your Will can include a testamentary trust for minor children as well as nominating a guardian to care for your children and a trustee to care for assets set aside in a trust. If you do not have a Will, the State of Georgia has an intestacy plan for who will inherit your estate, and specific processes to administer your estate that can be costly. Your planning with a Last Will and Testament will ensure that your wishes are carried out and help to reduce family friction at a difficult time.

Power of Attorney—grants authority to a specified individual to manage your property in your stead, without reducing your authority. A Power of Attorney can be useful if you are unavailable to handle financial matters due to illness or absence (for military deployment or otherwise). We caution our clients to be careful with these instruments and nominate the most trustworthy persons as their agent. Powers of Attorney can be drafted to address specific needs and situations, such as the transfer of specific assets, or for a specified occasion.

Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care—Georgia’s standard instrument for a health care power of attorney allows you to specify who you desire to make health care decisions when you become unable to do so. The instrument also allows you to specify certain end-of-life health care treatment you desire. Give your family the gift of your stated wishes, and reduce family friction by clarifying in this instrument exactly what care you wish to follow during the most difficult time in your life.


Sometimes disagreements grow to the point that the parties can’t even talk with each other without conflicts. They may rise from family issues, personalities, or business transactions. Finally, one party will file a formal charge against another. In some cases, the judge orders the parties to mediation.

A mediator is a neutral, third party facilitator, who will conference with the parties to explore how a dispute might be settled. She works with both sides to analyze the benefits as well as the risks and costs of continued litigation. The mediator provides a fair, impartial process for the hearing, but the authority to resolve the dispute rests with the parties. A well trained mediator can help the parties work toward a better understanding of the issues, and a better resolution, by examining core issues and values. Mediation is confidential and non-binding, though the parties may choose to have their agreement incorporated into a formal order for the Court.

Gail Drake is a GODR certified mediator, trained at the Justice Center of Atlanta.

About Me

Gail Dentel Drake has served for over 14 years in probate law throughout Southwest Georgia. She has successfully administered complex estates involving multiple heirs in several states, with assets misappropriated and relocated from Louisiana to Florida. Some estates involved appearing in out-of-state courts, such as the Los Angeles Probate Court.

For several years Gail was court appointed to represent over 50 incapacitated adults in guardianship petitions and was entrusted to safeguard their rights and interests. Gail Drake was court appointed as co-conservator of one guardianship with assets exceeding $4 million.

For six years Gail was appointed guardian ad litem to represent children in eight counties involved with the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS). Since 2013 Gail has served as Special Assistant Attorney General (SAAG), representing DFCS in three counties as they sought to protect children in crisis, and help parents remedy causes of dependency in order to reunite their families. She is certified as a Child Welfare Law Specialist (CWLS) by the National Association of Counsel for Children (NACC).

Gail has served on numerous community and ministry boards and engages in volunteer work, including the Salvation Army, The Anchorage (Christian substance abuse recovery center), Albany Rescue Mission, Mission for Haiti, ROCK International (relief agency in Africa), and Ballet Theatre South. She teaches regular classes at these recovery centers.

Gail Dentel Drake received a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina School Of Law in 2000, after completing a B.A. and M.S. from Bob Jones University in Greenville, SC. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and South Carolina Bar, as well as the Dougherty County Bar, and admitted to the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Gail is a certified mediator with the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution, receiving her training at the Justice Center of Atlanta.

Gail is married to Gregory Drake, pharmacist and elder, and raises their two children. In her prior career she served at several non-profit ministries, including two children’s homes, two homeless ministries, and a Christian university.

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