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Estate Distribution in Georgia

One of the main questions that arises during any Estate Planning session is how to control how your assets move to your heirs after your death. The chief way to accomplish this is to have a comprehensive Will in place as soon as possible. A Will tells the Probate court which parties you want to inherit your property after your death, and if this Will meets the appropriate legal standards, the court cannot deviate from this document.

However, situations do arise where a court will apply the state’s Intestacy laws during Estate Distribution in Georgia. These laws assign property to surviving family members without regard for your wishes or how this may affect an asset’s value. Because of this, it is important to speak with our knowledgeable attorneys at Nelson Elder Care Law.

The Role of the Courts in Georgia Estate Distribution

The Probate courts have the final say over which heirs receive what property after a person’s death. However, the court does not have the power to make its own decisions. Instead, the court acts as an intermediary in two ways.

Determining the Validity of a Will

A comprehensive and legally correct Will is the most direct way to retain control over the Probate process. To have the best chance of effectiveness, a Will must meet the construction guidelines present in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 53-4-20. This states that a Will is presumably genuine if it contains the signature of the testator (you) and those of two witnesses who were present at the execution.

Courts will also entertain challenges to a Will’s validity brought by interested parties. These are generally those who would stand to inherit property if the Will did not exist. They may allege that you lacked the mental capacity to create a Will or that the document is fraudulent. Once a Georgia court authenticates a Will, the Distribution of Estate assets must follow the terms of that document.

Intestacy Statute

The Intestacy statute determines the property rights of heirs should you pass away without a Will. This could occur if you never created a Will, the Will is incomplete, or the Will is deemed invalid.

Under O.C.G.A. § 53-2-1, your spouse and children have the first right to claim property in cases of Intestacy. However, if you do not have a spouse or children then others may be able to stake a claim.

How Does an Executor Distribute an Estate?

While the Probate court can determine the property rights of heirs, only an executor of an Estate has the legal authority to distribute assets. While you can nominate an executor in your Will, courts can also act to place a willing participant in this role.

An executor takes temporary control of all your assets in anticipation of Estate Distribution in Georgia. They will first distribute assets to authentic creditors. Once this is complete, they will send out the remainder of assets to the heirs named in the Will or those in line to inherit after an application of the Intestacy rules. Every step of the way, the court oversees this distribution.

Discuss Estate Distribution with our Georgia Attorneys

Ideally, the Distribution of an Estate after a person’s death will proceed according to the terms of a Will. As long as a Will is the genuine product of a testator’s intent, the Probate court must order property distraction according to the terms of that document.

However, if a Will is incomplete or altogether absent, the court will apply the state’s Intestacy rules. Contact Nelson Elder Care Law today to discover more about the rules for Estate Distribution in Georgia.

Hear From Our Clients
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“On the threshold of retirement, we finally decided to quit thinking we could self-prepare the requisite documents. We had previously had only a very simple will. We needed the necessary legal (including updated will) & health care docs but didn’t want to deal with the time & complication of legalese. Cindy made the process relatively painless. She took the time to explain and answer questions without trying to upsell services. We were done in 2 meetings plus the reading of emailed drafts. In addition to preparing the documents, Nelson Eldercare will be there when our adult children need advice on executing the plans we’ve put in place.So glad it’s behind us and would recommend Cindy and her helpful staff.”

- Bonnie

Cindy and her company treat their clients like family. Nelson’s offers clear, direct, and honest guidance in planning for your families security and future. No one wants to actively sit down and make these decisions, but Nelson’s makes this process seamless. I was so impressed with their willingness to answer all questions big or small. So glad I made the decision have them help my mom and dad and now me. You can’t go wrong with Nelson’s Elder Care Law.

- Hope

The very best elder law attorney and staff anyone could ever ask for! I have referred a number of clients to Cindy and she never disappoints. She is kind, caring, and extremely thorough in making sure everything is completed as it should be. I highly recommend Cindy for anyone needing lawyer services; she truly goes above and beyond for every client she helps and has had a huge impact in so many peoples’ lives. Thank you, Cindy and staff, for everything that you do- I’m so glad to know you!

- Kerri

I heard Cindy’s presentation at a Senior Luncheon at my church, and was very impressed. She helped my daughter and me understand many aspects of elder law. Josh has also been very helpful in my planning to enter an independent living situation . I have told many friends about them.

- Charlotte

Cindy and the Nelson Elder Care Law team are trustworthy and helpful. They are the experts in elder care law. At Leaf Cremation, we entrust our families to the care of the Nelson team when their services are needed.

- Pierce
Client Reviews

Compassionate, Patient, and Thorough Lawyers

By: Missy H.

Title: Compassionate, Patient, and Thorough Lawyers

Description: A friend referred me to Nelson Elder Care Law, and I couldn't be more thankful. In fact, I've now referred several others to the firm as well. Cindy Nelson met with my mother and me to discuss my mother's estate plan and all related documents. She was extremely kind, compassionate, and patient and answered all of our questions thoroughly and in a way we could understand. We have such peace of mind now knowing this has been handled properly, and we can focus on helping my mother receive the care she needs as she ages. Cindy and her firm are fabulous with follow up as well. When I've reached out with questions months after our initial meetings, I've received prompt and thorough replies. As the name implies, this firm specializes in Elder Care law and helped us navigate the many decisions to be made. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND Nelson Elder Care Law to anyone seeking estate planning assistance.

Rating: ★★★★★ 5 / 5 stars