Dying Without a Will in Georgia

Laws of Intestacy Succession in Georgia

Old Savannah Cotton Exchange, Savannah, GA
Julie Ann Garber, J.D.

When a Georgia resident dies without having made a Last Will and Testament, the intestacy succession laws found in the Georgia Code will dictate who inherits the deceased person's probate estate. Below is a summary of the Georgia intestacy succession laws in various situations.

Deceased Person is Survived by a Spouse and/or Descendants

Here is what will happen under the Georgia intestacy laws if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and/or descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.):

  • Survived by a spouse and descendants - In this case the surviving spouse and the children will share equally in the probate estate, however, the surviving spouse's share may not be less than one-third (1/3) Thus, if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and one child, then each will inherit one-half (1/2) of the probate estate. But if the deceased person is survived by a spouse and four children, then the spouse will receive one-third (1/3) of the probate estate and the children will equally divide the remaining two-thirds (2/3).
  • Survived by a spouse and no descendants - In this case, the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased spouse's entire probate estate.
  • Survived by descendants and no spouse - In this case, the deceased person's descendants will inherit the entire probate estate, per stirpes.

Deceased Person is Not Survived by a Spouse or Descendants

Here is what will happen under the Georgia intestacy laws if the deceased person is not survived by a spouse or any descendants (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc.):

  • Survived by one or both parents - In this case, the parents will equally inherit the deceased person's probate estate if both are living, or if one of the parents is deceased then the surviving parent will inherit the entire probate estate.
  • Survived by brothers and/or sisters or descendants of brothers and/or sister and no parents - In this case, the deceased person's brothers and/or sisters and the descendants of deceased brothers and/or sisters (nieces and nephews) will inherit the entire of the probate estate, per stirpes.
  • Not survived by parents, brothers, sisters, or descendants of brothers or sisters - In this case, the probate estate will go to the grandparents, if any, otherwise to aunts and uncles or their descendants, if any, otherwise to first cousins.
  • Not survived by any family members - In the unlikely circumstance that the deceased person is not survived by any family members as described above, then the entire probate estate will escheat to the State of Georgia.

What You Can Inherit from a Georgia Intestate Estate

So exactly what will you inherit if your relative dies without leaving a Last Will and Testament and the relative was a resident of Georgia or owned real estate located in Georgia? Even if you determine based on the information presented above that you are entitled to an intestate share of your relative's estate, you may very well not inherit anything. Why? Because your relative may have left all non-probate property or the debts your relative owed at the time of death may exceed the value of the probate estate which will make the estate insolvent.

If you are not sure of your legal rights as an intestate heir in Georgia, then consult with a Georgia probate attorney to be sure.

NOTE: State laws change frequently and the following information may not reflect recent changes in the laws. For current tax or legal advice, please consult with an accountant or an attorney since the information contained in this article is not tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for tax or legal advice.