Attorney Natalie Phan
What Will Happen When You Die Without a Will in Georgia?
If you are a resident of Georgia and you do not have a valid will, you may be wondering what will happen to your property and assets when you die. The answer depends on the intestacy laws of Georgia, which are the rules that apply when someone dies without a will or with an invalid will. Intestacy laws determine who will inherit your estate based on your family situation and your relationship to your potential heirs.
In this blog post, we will explain the basics of intestacy laws in Georgia and how they affect different scenarios.
Without a Valid Will - Who Will Inherit Your Estate in Georgia?
When you die without a will in Georgia, your estate will go through a process called probate. Probate is a legal procedure that involves identifying your heirs, paying your debts and taxes, and distributing your assets according to the intestacy laws.
The intestacy laws of Georgia establish a priority order for inheritance based on your marital status and whether you have any descendants, such as children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren. Here are some common situations and how they are handled by the intestacy laws:
If you are married and have no descendants, your spouse will inherit your entire estate.
If you are married and have descendants, your spouse and your descendants will share your estate equally, but your spouse's share cannot be less than one-third of the estate.
If you are not married but have descendants, your descendants will inherit your entire estate according to per stirpes. This means that if any of your children predecease you, their share will pass to their children (your grandchildren), and so on.
If you are not married and have no descendants, but have surviving parents, your parents will inherit your entire estate. If only one parent is alive, they will inherit everything.
If you are not married and have no descendants or parents, but have surviving siblings or nieces and nephews, they will inherit your estate according to per stirpes. This means that if any of your siblings predecease you, their share will pass to their children (your nieces and nephews), and so on.
If you are not married and have no descendants, parents, siblings, or nieces and nephews, but have surviving grandparents or other relatives, they will inherit your estate according to a more complex order of priority that depends on the degree of kinship.
If you are not married and have no surviving relatives at all, your estate will escheat to the state of Georgia. This means that the state will take your property and use it for public purposes.
As you can see, the intestacy laws of Georgia may not reflect your wishes or preferences for how you want your estate to be distributed. For example, you may want to leave your entire estate to your surviving spouse.
You may also want to leave some of your property to a close friend, a stepchild, a charity, or a pet. However, none of these parties can inherit from you under the intestacy laws unless you make a valid will.