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What is the Difference Between Testate and Intestate Estates?

Posted by Joel Beck | Jul 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

Whether you are going through probate or doing your own estate planning, you might hear the terms, “testate” and “intestate” estate mentioned at some point in either process. To put it simply, “intestate” is a term used when someone dies without a will. Their estate will then be referred to as an “intestate” estate and the state will decide who will serve as the administrator of the estate and how assets shall be distributed after the decedent's expenses are paid. On the other hand, if a person were to die testate, it means they died with a will.  In a testate estate, the will would set forth who should serve to administer the estate and have a plan as to how the assets should be distributed after all valid debts and bills have been paid.

Whether a person dies intestate or testate will determine how the probate process goes. In either situation, the process involves essentially the same overall steps:  someone is appointed and vested with legal authority to manage the estate, inventory of all known assets are taken (if required) and are marshaled together, valid debts and bills are paid off, and the remaining assets are distributed to heirs of an intestate estate or to the beneficiaries of a testate estate. If the decedent died intestate, then the assets will be distributed to the heirs following Georgia law.

Now that you understand what “intestate” and “testate” estate means, it's important to understand what this could be mean for you and your family. As you now know, when you die intestate, the probate court would appoint someone to serve as the administrator of your estate, which unfortunately could be someone you would not wat having control over your estate. Additionally, there might be people you would not want to inherit from you, but if there is no will stating who you would like to inherit from you, the state will need to follow the rules of intestate succession to distribute assets to your heirs. So again, if you were to die intestate, you would have no control over who is managing your estate and who gets to inherit from you. The only way to control what happens to your estate and your family after you die would be through proper estate planning. A well-prepared estate plan makes probating your estate much easier for your family members and will give you peace of mind knowing you have control over how your estate will be handled after your death.

At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we help people with both their estate planning and uncontested probate. If you need help with this contact us here or call us at (678) 344-5342. If you would like to learn more about estate planning in Georgia, request our FREE guide.

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


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