Intestacy Laws in Georgia

The main purpose of having a Will is to ensure that your property moves to your nominated heirs after your death. From a legal perspective, a Will informs a Probate court as to your desires and functions as a way to override the state’s Intestacy statute.

Intestacy describes a situation where a person dies without a valid Will. By default, the court will follow the statutory rules that determine the property rights of surviving family members. This can often result in a distribution that goes against the decedent’s wishes and may create conflict within a family. Our trusted attorneys at Nelson Elder Care Law are well-versed in Intestacy laws in Georgia and can help you put together an Estate Plan that avoids these issues.

What Happens if Someone Dies without a Will?

Intestacy laws apply if a person dies without any form of Will or other testamentary document. In these situations, the Probate court will immediately apply Georgia’s Intestacy laws.

According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated § 53-2-1, the court will evaluate the decedent’s current familial relations to determine who will inherit property. For example, a person who dies with a spouse, but no children, their entire Estate will be left to the spouse. By contrast, if a person dies with both a spouse and children, the spouse and children each split an even share of the Estate. However, the spouse will always retain a one-third share. The statute also contemplates situations where parents, siblings, grandparents, and other relations may be able to inherit if no children or spouses are alive. Our team at Nelson Elder Care Law can help determine who will inherit an Estate if your loved one died Intestate.

How a Will Overrides the Intestacy Laws

Having your Estate be subjected to Georgia Intestacy laws can severely complicate the Probate process. Because the law mandates even shares for children and spouses, this may necessitate the forced sale of tangible items such as real estate, personal property, or business holdings. As a result, a family home, precious heirlooms, or a family business may all cease to perform their original functions.

Thankfully, the most direct way to override the state’s Intestacy laws is to have a valid and comprehensive Will that specifically nominates heirs, names assets with as much detail as possible, and meets the state’s rules for formation and execution. If a Probate court accepts this Will as genuine, it will not need to apply the Intestacy laws. Our experienced lawyers can help you draft a legally valid Will that leaves no question as to your intent.

Learn More about Intestacy Laws from a Georgia Attorney

The state’s Intestacy laws serve a vital function. They determine which relatives will receive a portion of a decedent’s property after their death should they pass away without a Will. However, the presence of a valid Will upon the date of your death overrides some or all of these rules. As a result, a person with a comprehensive Estate Plan usually does not need to concern themselves with these rules.

Even so, understanding which parties will stand to inherit under Intestacy laws in Georgia is important information to have. Contact Nelson Elder Care Law today to learn more.

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