Georgia intestacy laws determine what happens if someone passes away without writing a will in the state of GA. Learn more in this complete guide.
Author: Paul Black
Paul’s experience as the son of two parents with big health challenges is what led him to the work he does today and gives him first-hand knowledge of the challenges that many caregivers and family members face. After graduation from GSU Law, Paul was chosen from dozens of applicants nationwide as one of three 2010-2011 Borchard Foundation Law & Aging Fellows. / Paul has been named as a SuperLawyers “Rising Star” in the area of Estate Planning and as a member of Georgia’s “Legal Elite” by Georgia Trend magazine. Published on: May 06, 2020. Last updated on: May 28, 2020.
Georgia Intestacy Laws
One of the inevitabilities of life is death, and if you have not adequately prepared, your estate may be processed according to Georgia intestacy laws. If you have not created a will, the properties that you own alone, in your own name, will go to your closest family members under state “intestate succession” laws. This will generally transfer to your spouse, children, or parents, depending on your situation.
If you do not have heirs, your estate will “escheat” into the state’s coffers. This is a rare occurrence, as most estates eventually transfer to some relatives. As it is a complicated legal matter, it is best to refer to the advice of an attorney qualified in Georgia intestacy laws.
Navigating Intestacy Laws in Georgia
Intestacy laws in Georgia are mainly covered by Code § § 53-2-1 to 53-2-5. If an estate you’re involved with is facing intestate proceedings and you believe this to be an error, get assistance from a knowledgeable lawyer, such as the Law Office of Paul Black.
Georgia Intestate Succession Order
The Georgia intestate succession order lays out who an estate will be passed down to first if there is no will. Succession order generally follows a certain pattern, whether in Georgia or another state.
If you were married when you pass away without a will, what your partner receives depends upon whether you have living descendants: children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. If you do not, then your partner acquires all of your residential or commercial property. If you do have descendants, the descendants and your spouse will share your property equally. Otherwise, your partner’s share can not be less than one-third of the entire estate.
More distant relatives may come into play if you did not have a spouse or descendants at the time of your death.
If this seems confusing, don’t worry. A lawyer experienced in Georgia intestacy laws can clarify, answer all of your questions, and represent your family’s case.
Intestate Succession in Georgia
If you pass away without a will in Georgia, your kids will get an “intestate share” of your residential or commercial property. The size of each dependent’s share depends upon the number of children you have and whether you are married at the time of death.
For a child to acquire from your estate under the laws of intestacy, Georgia must consider them your legal children. For most families, this is not a complex matter, but that is not the situation for many. Understanding Social Security laws may be provided by a lawyer.
Georgia Intestacy Laws Social Security
According to the Social Security Administration’s Program Operations Manual System, in Georgia, there are certain qualifications a child must meet to be considered a “legal heir” for Social Security purposes.
There are a variety of ways these qualifications can be met. If you are facing questions about establishing proof of a legal heir, it is best to retain the counsel of a qualified estate planning attorney familiar with Georgia intestacy laws.
Understanding Georgia Intestate Law
When an individual passes away without a will, the estate he leaves is dispersed according to Georgia intestate law. Several of your most valuable assets will not be contained in your will and will not be affected by intestate succession laws. The most notable examples include:
- Co-owned property
- IRA, 401(k), or other retirement funds
- Life insurance proceeds
- Living trust Georgia property
- Payable-on-death accounts
- Securities held in a transfer-on-death account
Any of these assets will pass to the other owner or a different beneficiary previously named regardless of whether you had a will.
Georgia Intestate Laws: Succession After Immediate Family
Residents who pass away without leaving their estate to a partner or their children, Georgia intestate laws dictate that their property is dispersed to their living parents or siblings following in line for intestate estate law, in this order:
- Nieces and nephews
- Aunts and uncles
Addressing your estate planning early on can remove the anxiety involved with making your final arrangements and avoid the complexity of dealing with intestate law. Work with an attorney skilled in elder law in Georgia like Paul Black, who will provide a sensitive ear and expert advice.
Georgia Inheritance Laws Without a Will
If you don’t have a will, having a living trust can reduce the issues regarding Georgia inheritance laws without a will.
However even so, heirs may receive nothing if the financial obligations owed at the time of death surpassed the worth of the probate estate. This would make the estate insolvent.
Laws of Intestacy Georgia Debt
In Georgia, the laws of intestacy regarding debt depend on the estate that remains upon death. Debts must be paid out of the estate, which can reduce the amount left for heirs. There are also sometimes tax implications of either probating an estate or of paying the debts of an estate, so working with a financial consultant or estate attorney is advisable and can help you avoid any unpleasant financial surprises.
Who Are Your Heirs at Law Georgia?
Heirs at law Georgia are determined based on the closeness in relation to the deceased member. Contrary to common belief, an estate does not pass to the federal government if somebody passes away without a will. If no lawfully acknowledged successors of an intestate decedent can be discovered, it is possible that an estate might “escheat” to the state.
It is essential to have a legitimate will so that you have control over where your property and resources go in the event of your death. For example, even if you don’t have immediate family, you might prefer that your estate pass to a beloved charity or a dear friend. Without a will, you don’t have those options and your property will pass to whatever family member is next in Georgia’s succession list, or to the federal government.
Dying Without a Will in Georgia
Dying without a will in Georgia can cause complications and add additional stress for your loved ones. But rest assured, the state does have a plan for what happens if this situation comes to pass.
If the departed was not survived by one of the following:
- Niece or nephew
- Uncle or aunt
Then the deceased’s first cousins acquire the estate. If the departed does not have a surviving spouse or any living family member, his or her estate goes to the state. In Georgia, this goes to the education fund in the county where the deceased was living at the time of the death of the deceased.
Passing With No Will in Georgia
If your loved one has died with no will in Georgia, it is vital that you contact a reputable lawyer familiar with Georgia intestacy laws and estate and probate issues. There may be options available to you. Contact the Law Office of Paul Black for more information and assistance.