What Are Georgia Inheritance Laws With A Will?

Georgia Inheritance Laws With A Will

What is the Georgia inheritance law with a will?

This article covers things like:

  • do wills have to get probated
  • what has to go through probate
  • what assets avoid probate
  • does a spouse automatically inherit everything
  • can you disinherit your spouse
  • what happens to someone’s debt when they die
  • does a will override a marriage

Let’s dig in.

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What Is Georgia Inheritance Law?

The Georgia code for these intestate success laws are:

  1. Children of the decedent are “children in being” if they:
    • were conceived prior to the decedent’s death
    • were born within 10 months of the decedent’s death
  2. Half-blood” children are considered “whole blood” for Georgia’s intestate succession

The remaining sections of OCGA 53-2-1 are in the following sections.

It’s mainly about “Georgia Inheritance Laws Without A Will.”

If there is:

  • a spouse but no children, the spouse is the heir
  • a spouse with children, they get equal shares of the inheritance
  • no spouse or children, the nearest relatives are heirs
  • children of the first degree, they share the inheritance equally
  • parents of the second degree, they share the inheritance equally
  • siblings of the third degree, they share the inheritance equally
  • nieces and nephews of the third degree share it equally

Let’s talk about the Georgia inheritance laws when you have a valid will.

Related: Can The Executor Of A Will Take Everything

What Is A Decedent?

A decedent is a legal term used to reference the deceased person.

All of their possessions become the decedent’s estate when they pass away.

If they had property estate planning, their estate will avoid intestate succession.

And it will get distributed per the last will and testament they created.

What Is A Testator?

A testator is the person who created the living will in Georgia.

This is the same person as the decedent.

But referring to them as “testator” is in the sense that they have not passed away.

Georgia Inheritance Law With A Will

Let’s talk about some of the Georgia inheritance laws with a will.

And how those probate proceedings get handled for your loved ones.

Do Wills Have To Be Probated In Georgia?

Yes, wills have to be probated in Georgia.

Every estate has to go through the probate process.

And the executor has to probate the will.

Georgia Probate Time Limit

The Georgia probate time limit is 5 years.

You have 18 months to probate a will after someone dies.

But, after you have filed for probate, you have 5 years to complete probate.

After 5 years, the will becomes invalid.

How Long Does The Executor Have To Settle An Estate In Georgia?

The executor has 5 years to settle an estate from the time they file for probate in Georgia.

After this 5 year period is over, the will becomes invalid.

And the remaining estate gets distributed per Georgia intestate succession laws.

What Assets Avoid Georgia Probate?

There are assets that avoid probate in Georgia automatically.

These include:

These assets get passed to the surviving co-owner for intestate succession.

What Has To Go Through Probate In Georgia?

The following assets have to go through probate in Georgia:

  • bank or investment accounts 
  • stocks and bonds 
  • vehicles (including cars, boats, or airplanes) 
  • business interests 
  • real estate 
  • personal property or household items

What is probating a will in relation to Georgia inheritance laws with a will?

What Does It Mean To Probate A Will?

Probating a will means you validate and administer the will.

Validating the will means that you prove the will is valid.

This is usually done by having the witnesses testify to it’s authenticity.

If it’s a self-proving will, there is no need for the witnesses to testify.

(This is when you have a self-proving affidavit for your will.)

Administering the estate means that the executor pays off the estate’s debts.

And then distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

So, how do you probate a will in Georgia?

How To Probate A Will In Georgia

Per Georgia’s inheritance laws with a will, the probate process is:

  1. Find and file the decedent’s will with the Georgia probate courts.
  2. Petition the courts to start the probate process and pay filing fees.
  3. Inventory the estate’s assets.
  4. Inventory the estate’s debts (credit cards, real estate, etc.).
  5. Notify the public of the death in a local newspaper.
  6. Pay off debts and creditors.
  7. Distribute the remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries.
  8. Provide the Georgia probate courts with the estate’s accounting.
  9. Close probate.

How Long Do You Have To File Probate After Death?

Per Georgia code, you have to file for probate within a “reasonable time” after death.

Georgia probate laws require that the will gets probated within 5 years after death.

Surviving Spouse Rights In Georgia

Let’s say you’re married and you die without a will in Georgia.

What your surviving spouse gets depends on whether you have descendants like:

  • children
  • grandchildren
  • great-grandchildren

A surviving spouse has rights to at least one-third of the estate in Georgia.

And that is regardless of how many children there are.

If there is one child, then:

  • the child gets one-half of the estate
  • the surviving spouse gets one-half of the estate

If there is a spouse and two children, they all get one-third of the estate.

With 3+ children, the child’s share of the estate gets reduced.

The surviving spouse has rights to one-third of the estate.

And the child’s share is 66%, split equally by the living children.

If there are no children, the surviving spouse gets the entire estate.

Does A Spouse Automatically Inherit Everything In Georgia?

If there are no children, a spouse will automatically inherit everything in Georgia.

But, if there are children, the spouse has to split the estate with them.

(This includes minor children, adult children, and adopted children.)

The minimum that a spouse can inherit is one-third of the estate.

Can You Disinherit Your Spouse?

In Georgia, you cannot disinherit your spouse per Georgia inheritance laws with a will.

Spouses (and children) are entitled to Year’s Support in Georgia.

Even if you disinherit them, they can still get funds from the estate.

Year’s Support can get filed even if a spouse tried to disinherit you.

The purpose of the law is to make sure the surviving spouse is taken care of.

This is a part of Georgia’s inheritance laws with a will.

Usually, this support is enough finances for a year of expenses.

But surviving spouses can ask for the primary home from the estate.

What Is Inheritance Tax In Georgia

Inheritance taxes are imposed on people who receive estate assets.

An inheritance tax gets paid by the beneficiaries receiving the assets.

And are not paid by the person passing the assets down.

Does Georgia Have Inheritance Taxes?

No, Georgia does not have an inheritance tax with its inheritance laws.

But the administrator or executor still needs to file:

To file these, you need to get an EIN (employer identification number).

The IRS treats the estate as an entity.

This guide on how to probate a will walks you through this probate process.

What Is Estate Tax In Georgia

Estate taxes are different than inheritance taxes in Georgia.

An estate tax is also called a death tax.

It gets imposed on the transfer of the deceased person’s assets.

The family members don’t have to pay these taxes.

Most estates are small estates or are under the estate tax exemption amounts.

But the federal estate tax rates range from 18% – 40%.

And that’s only for assets past the exemption rate of $12.06M.

The estate tax rates only kick in once you’re past $12.06M in estate value.

And that’s per individual, so a married couple’s exemption is $24.12M.

Does Georgia Have Estate Taxes?

There are no estate taxes under Georgia laws for inheritance.

But you will still have to pay the federal estate taxes.

Georgia Inheritance Laws With A Will FAQs

These are questions we get about Georgia’s intestate succession laws.

Can My Husband Make A Will Without My Knowledge?

Yes, your husband can make a will without your knowledge.

It would be unusual, but it’s not illegal for your husband to make a will without you knowing.

Can Stepchildren Contest A Will?

Yes, a stepchild can contest a will for a Georgia estate.

But they can only contest a will if they have beneficiary designations.

Georgia’s inheritance laws are such that stepchildren don’t have inheritance rights.

But that’s only for an intestate estate (when there’s no will designating them as beneficiaries).

How To Probate A Will In Georgia Without An Attorney

There are a few extra steps to probate a will without an attorney.

Check out our guide on how to probate a will in Georgia without an attorney.

Who Probates A Will In Georgia?

The executor is legally responsible for probating a will in Georgia.

The executor should file the original will at the decedent’s local probate courts.

But what if the executor does not probate a will?

What If The Executor Does Not Probate A Will?

If the executor does not probate a will, the executor could:

  • get criminal charges
  • have lawsuits from the other beneficiaries
  • lose their inheritance

This is how the Georgia inheritance laws with a will can come into play.

When a will is not probated, the estate gets passed down via Georgia inheritance laws.

Even if there is a will – because the will becomes invalid after 5 years.

I Inherited A House How Do I Put It In My Name?

You’ll have to have an attorney create a Georgia quit claim deed for you.

This will “quit” the decedent’s claim to the property.

And put the inherited house into your name.

Once you have a quit claim deed filled out, file it with the Clerk’s office.

If My Daughter Died Will My Son-In-Law Inherit My Estate?

If your daughter died, your son-in-law would not inherit your estate.

Son-in-laws are not heirs when it comes to inheritance laws.

If your daughter dies, her share of the estate will get split between your other children.

Does A Will Override A Marriage?

No, a will does not override a marriage.

A marriage overrides a will.

This is because your spouse automatically becomes your heir.

Even if you disinherit your spouse with a will, they are still entitled to support.

Can The Executor Of A Will Be Changed

Yes, the executor of a will can be changed.

All you need to do is codicil (amend) your will.

This can change the executor of a will without writing a new will.

What Happens To Someone's Debt When They Die

That person’s estate pays off their debts when they die.

When someone dies, their assets pass to their estate.

If those assets are not enough to pay off debts, then the debts go unpaid.

No one else is responsible for paying off those debts.

Can Executors Change A Will?

An executor cannot change a will.

An executor is legally obligated to follow the will’s instructions.

An executor cannot change:

  • the beneficiaries
  • how much everyone gets
  • how much they get
  • the terms of the will

Can An Executor Decide Who Gets What?

No, an executor cannot decide who gets what

An executor’s job is to follow the instructions in the will. 

And distribute the assets as the decedent described in the will.

There is a scenario where an executor can decide who gets what. 

That’s when the testator did not give clear direction on how to distribute assets. 

Then, the executor can decide who gets what from the estate. 

Getting Estate Planning & Probate

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This means that you don’t wrongfully lose assets to creditors.

We also make sure that the probate process is smooth and fair.

This means you don’t get raked over the coals financially.

After you fill out the form below, we will set up your free consultation.

Talk soon.

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