Death is a certainty of life that we often avoid thinking about, let alone plan for. However, having a sound estate plan in place can significantly ease the process for your loved ones. As estate planning lawyers at Peach State Wills & Trusts in Georgia, we're here to explain what happens when you die in Georgia, and why proper estate planning is crucial.
The Basics: What Happens When You Die in Georgia?
The fate of your estate depends on the type of estate planning you've put in place. Essentially, there are three possible scenarios:
Dying Without an Estate Plan (Intestacy)-
If you pass away without an estate plan, your estate will be handled in accordance with Georgia's laws of intestacy. An administrator, likely an heir, descendant, or even a creditor or County Administrator, will be appointed. They will gather your assets, pay off your valid debts, and distribute your remaining property based on the state's default plan.
This plan takes into account your surviving spouse, children, parents, and other relatives in a specified order. This is not always the distribution one might have wished for. Importantly, if you are married with children, your spouse will not inherit all of your assets under Georgia's intestacy laws.
Dying With a Will-
If you die with a valid will, your designated executor will file a petition to have your will admitted to probate. They'll notify debtors and creditors, settle your valid debts and final expenses, and distribute your remaining property according to your will's instructions.
Probate isn't necessarily overly expensive, but it can take time, often at least six months, due to required notice periods for creditors and the time it takes to pay bills and distribute assets.
Dying With a Revocable Living Trust-
If you have a revocable living trust and all your assets were correctly funded into the trust, your successor trustee will administer the assets according to the trust's terms, without the need for probate.
However, if some assets weren't properly funded into the trust or didn't pass via beneficiary designations, that remaining property will be handled either according to the terms of a "pour-over" will you left behind or according to intestacy laws.
Importance of Estate Planning in Georgia
Considering the complexities of these scenarios, we strongly advise Georgia residents to have an estate plan in place. An estate plan not only helps ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, but it also eases the administrative burden on your loved ones after your death.
Understanding what happens when you die in Georgia is the first step towards effective estate planning. With a sound plan in place, you can ensure your assets are distributed as per your wishes and ease the process for your loved ones.
Contact Peach State Wills & Trust for Estate Planning Help
At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we are committed to making this process as easy and accessible as possible. If you need help crafting an estate plan or have any questions, contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at (678)-344-5342. We are ready to guide you every step of the way.
If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached.