What Does Georgia Intestate Succession Mean For You?

Georgia Intestate Succession - Georgia Inheritance Laws - Intestate Succession Georgia

Is your estate or inheritance going through Georgia intestate succession?

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • what happens when someone dies without a will?
  • does a spouse automatically inherit everything?
  • what are the surviving spouse’s rights?
  • who are the heirs that will inherit the estate?

Let’s dig in.

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Georgia Inheritance Laws

The Georgia intestate succession statute is OCGA 53-2-1.

OCGA 53-2-1

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

Georgia Inheritance Laws With A Will

If you die with a will, Georgia’s inheritance laws state that the estate is testate.

With proper estate planning, the testator would have appointed beneficiaries.

These beneficiaries can be anyone they want.

They aren’t necessarily the same ones as intestate succession in Georgia.

When there is a valid will, an executor gets appointed to settle the estate.

They will have to file the will and then prove the validity of the will.

After they probate the will, they will have to pay off the estate’s debts.

Then, they can distribute the remaining assets to the named beneficiaries.

If it’s a small estate, they can just fill out a small estate affidavit and avoid probate.

Let’s talk about who inherits when there is no will in Georgia.

Georgia Inheritance Laws Without A Will

What happens when someone dies without a last will and testament in Georgia?

This is called an intestate estate.

Meaning that the estate gets passed down per the Georgia intestate succession laws.

The “Georgia Intestate Succession” section talks about the laws of intestacy.

And how much your family gets (especially the spouse’s share of the estate).

When there is no will, a personal representative gets appointed to distribute the estate.

They will pay off debts and distribute the remaining estate per intestate succession.

There are certain assets that do not go through the probate process in Georgia.

These are things like:

  • assets in living trusts (real estate, personal property, etc.)
  • life insurance proceeds
  • payable-on-death bank accounts
  • retirement accounts (401ks, Roth IRAs, etc.)

Otherwise, everything else gets distributed per the Georgia intestacy laws.

Related: Can An Executor Decide Who Gets What?

Transfer Of Property After Death Without A Will In Georgia

If you die without a will in Georgia, the property will get transferred to living relatives.

If you don’t have any relatives, the property will go to the state of Georgia.

This is also known as escheat – where the property goes to the state.

When a property does through probate, it gets transferred to your loved ones.

There will be a quit claim deed issued for the property.

This will transfer the property to the heir per Georgia intestacy laws.

Let’s say you don’t want your distant family members to inherit your estate.

In this case, an estate planning attorney can help you leave it to:

  • specific relatives
  • charities

But, this way, the probate courts don’t give your estate to distant family per state laws.

Georgia Intestate Succession

What are the inheritance rights of a surviving spouse?

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.

Related: Can An Executor Override A Beneficiary

Does A Spouse Automatically Inherit Everything In Georgia?

If you have a spouse and no children, the spouse automatically inherits everything in Georgia.

If you have a spouse and children, the spouse does not automatically inherit everything.

This includes biological children and adopted children.

Assets That Go Through Intestate Succession In Georgia

If an asset would have passed through your will, it can go through intestate.

But assets that do not go through the probate courts in Georgia are:

  • property in a living trust
  • life insurance proceeds
  • funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement accounts
  • securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • payable-on-death bank accounts
  • property you own with someone else in joint tenancy

Related: Executor Not Communicating With Beneficiaries

Heir Property Laws In Georgia

Heir property laws in Georgia state the following.

When a real estate owner dies, the property is automatically passed down to the heirs.

When you die without a will, how the property gets passed down depends on “Heirs at Law.”

The probate process in the state of Georgia passes these assets down.

Who Are Heirs At Law In Georgia?

Let’s talk about who is considered an heir to an estate.

Per the rules of inheritance, the heirs at law in Georgia are:

  • a surviving spouse if there are no living children
  • the surviving spouse and living children if all are alive
  • nearest degree family members

Living children include:

  • biological children
  • adopted children

Let’s look at family members of the decedent based on their degree.

With intestate succession in Georgia, it starts with the first degree.

And works itself down through the fifth-degree family members.

Meaning if you have surviving children, they will get it all.

But if you don’t have surviving children or a spouse, your grandparents get it all.

And so on and so forth.

  • children are family members of the first degree
  • surviving parents are family members of the second-degree
  • siblings are in the third degree for living relatives
  • grandparents of the decedent are of the fourth-degree
  • aunts and uncles of the deceased person are of the fifth degree
  • first cousins get the estate if there are no aunts and uncles

Related: What An Executor Cannot Do

Rules Of Inheritance For Georgia

These rules of inheritance are 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

These rules of inheritance are 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

These rules of inheritance are 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

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.

Related: Penalty For Stealing From An Estate

Child’s Shares In Georgia

Let’s look at Georgia’s intestate succession for children.

The types of minor children that will receive an inheritance are:

  • adopted children
  • biological children
  • grandchildren
  • legitimate children from artificial insemination
  • posthumous (conceived, but not born yet) children

Children that will not receive a child’s share of the intestate estate are:

  • foster children
  • step-children
  • children placed for adoption
  • children born outside of marriage

FAQs About Intestacy Laws In Georgia

What Happens If You Die Without A Will In Georgia?

If you die without a will in Georgia, your estate goes through intestate succession.

A personal representative will pay off your estate’s debts.

And then they will distribute the remaining assets to your heirs.

Is Inheritance Marital Property In Georgia?

No, inheritance is not marital property in Georgia.

Inheritances are always separate property in the state of Georgia.

Does Georgia Have Inheritance Tax?

Who Inherits If A Child Dies Before A Parent?

If a child dies before a parent, the estate goes to the surviving spouse.

If there is not a surviving spouse, it goes to your parents and then to your siblings.

Do Grandchildren Get Inheritance If Parent Dies?

Yes, grandchildren do get their grandparent’s inheritance if their parent dies.

Their parent’s share of the inheritance will get passed down to them.

Are Grandchildren Legal Heirs?

Yes, grandchildren are legal heirs.

But grandchildren can only inherit property if their parents have passed away.

How Much Is Inheritance Tax In Georgia?

There are not any inheritance taxes in the state of Georgia.

Avoid Intestate Succession Georgia

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

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

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Talk soon.

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