Georgia Intestate Succession Laws: 6 Important Points

Georgia Intestate Succession Laws

Your estate is distributed per the intestacy laws when you die without a will

This process is known as Georgia intestate succession.

It determines how your property is divided among your heirs. 

The administrator needs to split the estate per these laws

Key Points

  • Georgia Intestate Succession: Distributes assets when someone dies without a will.
  • Primary Heirs: Spouse and children share the estate; spouse gets at least one-third.
  • No Immediate Family: Parents, siblings, and extended family inherit in order.
  • Special Cases: Half-blood relatives, adopted children, and posthumous children inherit like biological children.
  • Probate Process: The estate undergoes probate with an appointed administrator.
  • Avoiding Intestacy: A valid will ensures assets are distributed per your wishes and simplifies probate.

What is Georgia Intestate Succession?

Intestate succession is how Georgia splits an estate when there is no will. 

Georgia’s code outlines the order of inheritance for this. 

These laws provide a clear way to transfer property to surviving heirs.

Who Inherits Under Georgia Intestate Succession?

In Georgia, the order of inheritance under intestate succession is clearly defined. 

Here’s a breakdown of the order of inheritance without a will:

ScenarioWho InheritsDetails
Surviving Spouse and KidsSpouse and ChildrenThe estate is shared equally, but the spouse gets at least one-third.
No ChildrenSpouseThe estate goes to the surviving spouse.
No Surviving SpouseChildrenThe estate goes to children. Grandchildren inherit the deceased child's share.
No Spouse or KidsParentsThe estate goes to the parents.
No ParentsSiblingsThe estate is divided among siblings. Nieces/nephews inherit the deceased sibling's share.
No Immediate FamilyExtended FamilyThe estate goes to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., in order.

Surviving Spouse Rights In Georgia

When your spouse dies, the “surviving spouse rights” to their property that you have are: 

  • With Children: The estate gets split equally between the spouse and children. The spouse gets a minimum of one-third of the estate. 
  • Without Children: The spouse inherits the entire estate.
  • Homestead Rights: The spouse has the right to live in the family home.
  • Year’s Support: The spouse can request a year’s support from the estate.
  • Personal Property Exemption: The spouse is entitled to household items, clothing, and personal effects.

What Happens To A House The Surviving Spouse Lives In?

When your spouse dies, what happens to the house you’re living in? 

Do you have to sell it and split it with the kids? 

  • The surviving spouse has the legal right to continue living in the family home.
  • The homestead exemption protects the home from being sold to satisfy the debts of the estate. 

The probate courts will ultimately decide what to do with the house. 

They could force the sale of the house to distribute the estate. 

But, homestead exemptions normally take priority.

Does A Spouse Automatically Inherit Everything In Georgia?

No, a spouse does not automatically inherit everything under Georgia intestate succession laws. 

  • No Kids: They inherit everything. 
  • With Kids: They split the estate with the kids, getting a minimum of 1/3 of the estate. 

Special Considerations in Georgia Intestate Succession

  • Half-Blood Relatives: Inherit the same as whole-blood relatives.
  • Adopted Children: Have the same inheritance rights as biological children.
  • Posthumous Children: Treated as if born during the decedent’s lifetime; inherit their share.
  • Non-Marital Children: They can inherit from their father if paternity is established legally.

The Probate Process for Intestate Estates

When you die intestate in Georgia, your estate must go through probate

The probate process distributes the estate, which includes:

  1. Appointing an Administrator: The court appoints an administrator to manage the estate. This person is usually a close relative of the deceased.
  2. Identifying Assets: The administrator gathers the deceased’s assets.
  3. Paying Debts and Taxes: The administrator pays off debts and taxes before distributing the estate. 
  4. Distributing the Estate: Finally, the administrator distributes the remaining assets according to Georgia’s intestate succession laws.

Get Help From A Probate Lawyer

The probate process is confusing and overwhelming. 

There’s 50 forms that you COULD file.

And no direction on which ones you need. 

But, the easy part is filing the will. 

The hard part is: 

  • properly notifying all parties
  • inventorying and appraising the property
  • paying off creditors
  • distributing property
  • keeping accounting
  • closing probate

You shouldn’t have to figure this out while mourning the loss of a loved one. 

Fill out the form to get help from a probate lawyer.

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