Georgia Inheritance Laws: How Will Your Inheritance Get Distributed?

Georgia Inheritance Laws - Inheritance Laws in Georgia - Georgia Inheritance Laws Without A Will

What are the Georgia inheritance laws?

This article covers things like:

  • what happens if you die without a will
  • what assets avoid probate
  • does a spouse automatically inherit everything
  • how much do your children and siblings get
  • how much are estate and inheritance taxes

Let’s dig in.

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What Is Georgia Inheritance Law?

The Georgia code for these intestate succession 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.

Inheritance Laws in Georgia

Let’s talk about some of the inheritance laws in Georgia.

Especially the probate laws on what happens when you die without a will.

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

Georgia Inheritance Laws Without A Will

What are Georgia’ inheritance laws when you die without a will?

When this happens, the estate gets considered as an “intestate estate.”

Meaning it gets passed to family members via Georgia’s intestate succession laws.

The Georgia probate courts will appoint an administrator of the estate.

Usually, this is a loved one that the heirs of the estate agrees on.

Or, it can be a probate lawyer that the heirs hire.

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Georgia?

If you die without a will, your estate goes to a surviving spouse and living children.

Georgia’s inheritance laws state that if you have a spouse and/or kids:

  • if you have a surviving spouse or kids, the entire estate goes to them
  • if a child died before you, that child’s share goes to the other kids or spouse
  • if you have kids but no spouse, the kids will equally split the intestate estate

Note that your spouse cannot inherit LESS than one-third of your estate.

The legal process for if you do not have a spouse and/or kids.

  • if you have surviving parents, the entire estate goes to them
  • if you don’t have parents, the estate goes to your siblings

Georgia’s inheritance laws state that if you do not have a spouse, kids, parents, or siblings.

  • the first people to receive the estate are your grandparents
  • then aunts and uncles
  • then first cousins and nieces and nephews

If you don’t have any of these, the probate courts will determine who gets your estate.

Sometimes, the estate will just go to the state of Georgia.

This is per Georgia code OCGA 53-2-1.

Who Inherits When There Is No Will In Georgia?

When there is no will, your living relatives inherit the decedent’s estate in Georgia.

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.

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.

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

Inheritance Rights Of Children

Children have inheritance rights in Georgia.

Children will split the estate equally with the surviving spouse.

It’s not splitting 50% to the spouse and 50% to all the children.

The inheritance is split PER PERSON.

Let’s say there are two children and a surviving spouse.

The two children have inheritance rights to two-thirds of the estate.

And the surviving spouse gets the other one-third.

Inheritance Rights Of Siblings

Siblings have inheritance rights, but it doesn’t mean they will inherit anything.

They only get inheritance rights if the following relatives of the decedent are not alive:

  • surviving spouse
  • living children
  • parents

This is the order that the estate gets distributed per Georgia inheritance laws.

If there are no children or a spouse, then the decedent’s parents inherit the estate.

If none of these survive, that’s when the inheritance rights of siblings kick in.

Once it gets to siblings, they split the estate equally amongst themselves.

Let’s talk about inheritance taxes and estate taxes for the state of Georgia.

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 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.

Do Stepchildren Have Inheritance Rights?

No, stepchildren do not have any inheritance rights.

The stepparent is not legally obligated to leave their stepchildren any inheritance.

Georgia inheritance laws do not require a stepparent to leave anything to the stepchildren.

Even if you die without a will in Georgia.

Let’s say you want to include your stepchildren in the inheritance.

Per state laws, you can:

If you don’t do either of these, your stepchild will not get any inheritance.

But adopted children gain inheritance rights under Georgia’s intestacy laws.

Our law firm’s Atlanta estate planning attorneys can set this up for you.

Whether you need to adopt a child or include them in your inheritance.

Just fill out the form on this page to get started.

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 intestate estate (when there’s no will designating them as beneficiaries).

Does Next Of Kin Get Everything If There Is No Will?

Yes, next of kin get everything in the probate process if there is no will.

The administrator of the intestate estate will pay off the estate’s debts.

And then they will distribute the remaining estate per Georgia’s inheritance laws.

Getting Estate Planning & Probate

If you want the best Atlanta probate attorneys to represent you, fill out the form below.

We have the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected.

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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