Imagine this: A loved one has passed away, but there's no will in sight. Amid the grief and loss, a host of legal questions arise, sparking confusion and concern. This situation is not uncommon in Georgia, where many families face the prospect of probate without a will. To bring some clarity in such times, we aim to demystify the process of probate when there's no will to guide the way. Let's dive in.
The Process of Probate Without a Will
When an individual passes away without a will in Georgia, they're considered to have died "intestate." As such, an 'executor,' nominated by the decedent to administer their estate, is missing. Instead, an 'administrator' steps in - usually an heir who is unanimously selected by all of the decedent's heirs.
Who Can Be an Administrator?
Georgia provides a priority list of eligible persons to be an administrator. The unanimous selection of the heirs is at the top, while the last choice is the county administrator for the county where the decedent died. The proposed administrator will file a petition with the court, providing details about the known heirs and assets of the estate. The court will then offer a chance for objections, giving both known and unknown heirs the opportunity to voice concerns.
The Administrator's Responsibilities
Upon the administrator's appointment, they will oversee the estate's distribution, which shares similarities with the process when a will is present. The administrator will collect the decedent's assets and run a notice to debtors and creditors in the newspaper for four weeks. Afterward, creditors will have 90 days to submit their demands to be treated similarly as other creditors for the same type of debts. The administrator will then pay off any valid debts of the decedent and move to distribute any remaining assets.
Distribution of Assets without a Will
However, the decedent provides no direction for asset distribution without a will. In such a case, Georgia's laws of intestacy apply. For instance, if the decedent had a spouse and no kids, all remaining assets go to the spouse. If there were a spouse and kids, the estate is split between the spouse and the children, with the spouse getting at least a one-third share.
Navigating Probate without a Will
In Georgia, probate without a will might seem daunting, but understanding the process can alleviate some of the stress. It's critical to remember that estate planning goes beyond the creation of a will, encompassing a host of tools to protect your assets and wishes. At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we understand that you may have further questions about estate planning and probate in Georgia. We invite you to reach out to us at 678-344-5342 to learn how to plan for such scenarios in Georgia today.
If you have any other questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached. Our aim is to make estate planning less complex and more approachable for everyone. We look forward to assisting you with your estate planning needs.