Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
Losing a loved one not only brings a wave of emotions but can also leave families on shaky financial ground. If you are a surviving spouse, you might have heard of something called “Year’s Support”, and you might be wondering exactly what it is and how it can help you.
In this article, we will cover common questions like:
Whether you’re learning about this subject for the first time or looking for more information, this article will help you understand the basics.
When a loved one dies, creditors are paid out of the estate before heirs and beneficiaries. Georgia follows a specific order for how creditors are prioritized, and Year’s Support is first on this list.
What is Year’s Support?
Year’s Support is a claim by a surviving spouse or a minor child against the estate, usually to help them ease their transition to a new life.
The State of GA recognizes its importance because the surviving spouse has lost some of the income that originally sustained their lifestyle. To support their well-being, a petition can allow a portion of the estate to be set aside for the decedent’s surviving spouse, minor children, or both.
Under the Georgia Probate law, the surviving spouse and any minor child or children can be eligible for Year’s Support.
The surviving spouse must typically file a petition with the probate court within two years of the decedent’s date of death. The court will then consider the petition and decide whether to grant the year’s support.
In some cases, the court may also consider the financial needs and resources of the surviving spouse when determining the amount to award. The eligibility requirements may vary from state to state, so it is best to consult with a probate lawyer who is familiar with the laws in your area.
Year’s Support not only offers financial relief to families but also protects the estate from other creditor claims. This can be especially helpful if estate assets are not enough to cover all debts or if the spouse still has surviving minor children to raise.
If the surviving spouse attempts to receive more than they are entitled to, adult children and other creditors may try to object.
If everyone agrees, Year’s Support could be filed in place of opening the estate for administration. Even then, creditors can still have the opportunity to object to the petition.
The Year’s Support amount is typically equivalent to the family’s standard of living for one year. The court awards this in the form of money or real property.
Georgia’s probate code requires the Probate Court to account for the petitioner’s other sources of income when calculating this amount. After that, the court reviews all the information and decides based on how much the surviving spouse needs and their ability to support themselves.
This can be more complex than other petitions, so you should consider seeking professional guidance before filing one.
Filing for Year’s Support can seem overwhelming, but the process is straightforward.
To start, gather all the necessary documents, like your spouse’s death certificate and estate planning papers. Next, submit a petition to the Probate Court, which will review your case and decide on the award.
Working with a lawyer can make the whole process smoother and ensure you have all the requirements you need.
In Georgia, the deadline is typically two years from the date of the decedent’s death. This means that the surviving spouse, minor children, or both must file within this timeframe because the Probate Court has the discretion to deny a petition if not filed within a reasonable amount of time.
Filing sooner rather than later is usually better, as it helps avoid issues or delays in the probate process.
There are rules and regulations for filing petitions. In the case of Year’s Support, the petitioner must observe the following:
The petitioner must provide all this information to allow the probate court to send a notice to each of them. This gives all involved parties a fair chance to object, normally within 30 days of receiving the notice.
In Georgia, the court has the power to modify the amount awarded if certain situations arise. For example, if the circumstances of the surviving spouse or minor children change, such as if the children turn eighteen or if the spouse remarries, the court may decide to modify the award.
Additionally, if the deceased’s assets increase or decrease, the court may adjust the award to reflect the change. All these modifications are subject to the court’s discretion and will not be automatic.
In an ideal situation, the person who files for Year’s Support can receive estate assets without any objections. But what happens when someone challenges the petitioner?
If a surviving spouse files for a petition, then the creditors, heirs, and beneficiaries all have a right to contest it. A common objection is that the party disagrees with the petitioner receiving some or all of the amount they are requesting.
Once someone files an objection, the probate court may set a hearing for a later date to determine the amount of money or property they should grant the petitioner.
Before the hearing takes place, mediation may occur to attempt to work out an agreement for all parties. If they cannot reach an agreement, the case may proceed to the hearing, where the petitioner will attempt to prove the amount they believe should be awarded.
After hearing all of the evidence and testimony, the probate court will decide how much, if any, Year’s Support it will grant.
The court determines the time frame, but the usual limit for contesting the Year’s Support petition is 30 days. Beyond this time, the court may decide to dismiss the objection.
The court’s acceptance of a Year’s Support petition can affect the distribution of assets in several ways.
Firstly, it can reduce the amount available to other creditors, such as payments intended for unsecured debts and property taxes. The heirs may also find themselves at a greater disadvantage as they only receive their share after all the creditors do.
Secondly, it can cause potential delays in distribution since assets must be awarded to the surviving spouse or child before the rest are disbursed.
Lastly, the grant of Year’s Support may also affect the estate’s tax implications by decreasing its value for tax purposes.
If you’re a surviving spouse considering filing for Year’s Support, we recommend consulting with a probate attorney who can provide legal advice.
An experienced lawyer can help you understand the process, ensure you meet all the eligibility requirements, and represent your interests in court as needed. With proper support, you can feel confident and informed throughout the process.
Our office exists to help individuals and families navigate this difficult time, and we’re here to answer your questions and provide the support you need.
Contact us at (770) 796-4582 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.
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