Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
Year’s support is a probate petition designed to make sure that a spouse or minor kids do not wind up on the street after the family’s primary breadwinner passes away. It is a very old law and harkens back to a time when the family was primarily supported by the husband, with the wife staying at home to raise the kids.
The purpose of year’s support is to put the surviving spouse and/or minor children at the front of the line to receive property from the probate estate. Without year’s support, they would be at the end of the line and would receive property only after all creditors have been paid.
A second effect of year’s support (and one that is commonly used today) is to cut out other heirs or beneficiaries of an estate, and to make sure that the surviving spouse receives most or all of an estate. Since the petitioner only gets one shot at year’s support, it is vitally important to make sure it is done right the first time.
A year’s support petition must be filed within two years of the date of death. When a year’s support petition is filed, the petitioner must list all people who the petitioner believes may have an interest in the probate estate. The petitioner must also properly identify all property that the petitioner proposes to have set aside as year’s support. Making a mistake on one of these two items can be disastrous to the petition. So, this is a good first place to look to try to defeat or neutralize the petition.
Another way to deal with a year’s support petition is to challenge the amount that the petitioner proposes to set aside in probate court. In Georgia, there is no set amount that a person is entitled to receive. Instead, the petitioner is entitled to have one year of their standard of living set aside, taking into account other sources of income. That is where the name “year’s support” comes from. Determining the amount can be a very tricky calculation, and as a result, it also provides a point from which to challenge the petition.
What someone is able to receive in year’s support can vary greatly from one estate to another. Because of that, the only way to assess the likelihood of success in challenging a petition (or in making a petition, for that matter) is to analyze the particular facts of the situation.
Given the complexity and number of moving parts in a year’s support petition, our office strongly recommends that anyone either petitioning for year’s support or defending a year’s support petition engage the services of a qualified probate law firm to assist them.
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