Determining what happens to a person’s estate when they die will generally depend on whether they had an estate plan in place and where they lived. During the probate process in Georgia, the court will first determine whether the decedent had a valid will in place. If the person had a valid will, a named executor will act in accordance with that will and gather the decedent’s assets and distribute them as planned.
If the decedent did not have a will, his or her property will be distributed based on Georgia laws of intestacy succession. Generally, if the decedent is survived by a spouse and children, the survivors will each get a portion of the decedent’s estate. However, if the decedent is not survived by a spouse and/or children/grand-children, the property may then be given to parents and/or siblings the decedent. If the decedent is not survived by parents or siblings, the courts will look to other relatives of the decedent.
In cases where the decedent did not have a will in place, there may be a way to avoid probate if all the decedent’s heirs agree on how the assets should be divided. In such cases, the heirs can file a petition for order declaring no administration is necessary and file a written plan detailing the distribution of property with the probate court. If the decedent has debt, the heir must also show the court that the creditors have agreed to the petition.
Distributing assets after a person’s death can be a complicated process. An estate planning attorney can help you navigate these challenges and ensure that the decedent’s loved ones get what they are entitled to.