You’ve probably never heard of an award of “Year’s Support,” and I can’t say I blame you.
It’s a tool in Georgia probate courts that’s pretty unique!
Although it’s not the most common way you probate a Will or administer an estate, some may say it’s an under-utilized tool. But this still doesn’t answer your question – what is a petition for Year’s Support?
“Year’s Support” is a right to inherit property from a spouse regardless of what’s written in their last will and testament and regardless of what debts the deceased owed during life (with some exceptions).
The goal of a Year’s Support is to provide for your surviving spouse and minor children. You know those people you were legally bound to support during life.
The only limitation of a Year’s Support is that you’re one of the intended beneficiaries: (1) the surviving spouse (that hasn’t gotten remarried since the death) or (2) a minor beneficiary of the deceased.
How Do You File a Petition For Year’s Support?
During probate in Georgia, all petitions must be filed within 24 months from the date of death.
If the petition is by/for a surviving spouse, it must be filed during their lifetime (meaning your estate can’t file a petition for Year’s Support).
And if a minor is filing, they must be under 18 and unmarried.
When Would You Petition for a Year’s Support?
The petition for Year’s Support is most commonly used when the estate is insolvent. This means that the estate is unable to pay the money owed to creditors/debtors (aka the assets are less than the debts).
The reason the Year’s Support is so powerful/beneficial is that it has the highest priority among debts under GA law. This applies whether your spouse died with or without a Will.
So this means that a spouse would take before those creditors (as long as we’re talking about unsecured debts; this doesn’t apply to secured mortgages or car loans).
2. No Will and Small Estate
Another reason a petition for Year’s Support is used is when the deceased didn’t have a Will AND the estate is fairly small. If your spouse didn’t have a ton of assets, it might be easier (and less expensive) than petitioning for Letters of Administration.
The petition for Letters of Administration starts at $150 (on average) for just the filing fees. As for Year’s Support, it’s typically around $100.
Now, both of these numbers can vary from county to county and year to year!
3. Second Marriage
Finally, petition fo Year’s Support is also used in second marriages when the spouse was omitted from the Will or only left a certain amount.
How Much Do I Get If I’m Awarded Year’s Support?
The Year’s Support amount varies from estate to estate. It’s mostly determined by how much the spouse/minor child(ren) need to support them.
(That’s nice and specific, right?)
Even though there is no mathematical formula for use in determining the amount of a Year’s Support award, the amount awarded must be supported by evidence that shows the spouse/child’s economic standard of living.
This is to ensure that people aren’t abusing the system, obviously.
How Do I Contest a Petition for Year’s Support?
Remember when I said that Year’s Support is used with a second (or even third) marriage? Well, that’s usually the scenario in which contests happen the most frequently.
When you have an objection to Year’s Support, the person contesting the petition will usually indicate that the award is excessive. As we said, there’s no mathematical formula but the award has to be reasonably related to the amount needed by the surviving spouse to maintain their standard of living for at least 12 months.
But maybe in asking for their award for Year’s Support, the surviving spouse didn’t include the fact that they are also very gainfully employed. When making this petition for Year’s Support, you have to take into account ALL of the spouse’s resources.
That means their income, personal assets, or other personal streams of cashflow/investments.
Another way to challenge Year’s Support is by making the argument that they didn’t file the petition correctly to begin with!
Remember those filing requirements I stated above? (Has to be within 24 months of the day of death, etc)
Well, sometimes people aren’t all that punctual… And sometimes the court doesn’t catch the mistake. That’s when the person contesting the Year’s Support can take advantage of this overlooked date and possibly get the award thrown out totally!
So now that you know what a petition for Year’s Support is, you can make the decision to see if it’s a tool worth using in the event your spouse predeceases you/their minor children.
Fill out the form and we can provide you with a Petition for Year’s Support Form in Georgia.