Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
What are the inheritance rights of spouses in Georgia? Does the surviving spouse automatically inherit everything? For that matter, does the surviving spouse even need to open probate? We will answer those questions and more in this post.
My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & CEO of Georgia Probate Law Group. At our firm, we help families who have lost a loved one navigate the complex and confusing legal process so they can make sure the estate is handled properly and their loved one’s memory is honored. Everything discussed in this post is for general information and is not legal advice – for specific information about your situation, please go here to request a complimentary consultation with one of our inheritance lawyers.
First, unless all property passes outside of probate, then an estate will need to be opened with the probate court. Property that passes outside of probate typically does so through joint ownership or beneficiary designations.
The next thing to be aware of is the default inheritance rules in Georgia. The default rule is that the spouse splits the estate with the deceased’s children, but the spouse will never receive less than one-third of the estate. It is important to remember that only natural and adopted children count. Stepchildren of the deceased do not count.
The default inheritance rules can be changed if the deceased left a valid Last Will and Testament. If a Will is found, then we ignore the default rule and follow the terms of the Will. So, that means that the spouse’s inheritance will be determined by what the Will says.
Finally, there is one additional option available to a surviving spouse. It is called Year’s Support and it is spousal support available under Georgia law to a surviving spouse and minor children of the deceased. Year’s Support in Georgia is a powerful tool because it is awarded to the spouse before any creditors are paid and before any split occurs. It is available with or without a will, and the amount that a surviving spouse can receive is not capped. Year’s Support is complicated and you only get one shot, so I strongly recommend you call our office for help with it.
For more information about this and other probate topics, please go to GPLG.com/Handbook to download a complimentary copy of our Georgia. Probate Handbook. You’ll learn the key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
You also can reach out to our office at (770) 796-4582 to set up a consultation.
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