Cobb County Estate Planning Lawyers Serving Clients Throughout North Georgia
Experienced Probate Lawyers Assist Clients in Metro Atlanta and Throughout North Georgia
When a loved one passes away, you and your family are mourning your loss. You’re processing your feelings about the days ahead without your family member. If your loved one passed away without leaving a will, you might be feeling confused about how to proceed with distributing their assets.
First, in Georgia, there are certain scenarios when any person entitled to inherit under state law can ask the probate court for an order stating that no probate is necessary. The court may grant this request if:
- the deceased person didn’t leave a will
- the legal heirs agree on how to divide up the deceased’s assets
- there are zero debts and no creditors don’t object to a lack of probate proceeding.
However, in general, if someone dies without a will in Georgia, but there are assets that need to be transferred, you can file for administration of the deceased’s estate. The process is similar to, but not exactly the same as, probating a Will. The deceased person’s assets (which would have passed through a will) get distributed according to state “intestate succession” laws. There are some assets that don’t usually pass through your will and wouldn’t be affected by intestate succession laws. These assets pass to the surviving co-owner or to a named beneficiary, whether or not the owner has a will and include:
- life insurance proceeds
- funds in an IRA, 401(k) or other retirement accounts
- property you’ve moved to a living trust
- bank accounts payable upon the owner’s death
- property owned in joint tenancy with someone else.
Who Inherits What in Georgia?
In Georgia, when someone dies without a will, the intestate succession laws dictate that the deceased person’s property goes to the closest living relative(s).
Here are some common examples of how this could play out:
- If you die with a spouse and no children, your surviving spouse inherits everything.
- If you die with children, but no surviving spouse, your children inherit everything.
- If you die with a spouse and children, they share the property, but your spouse’s share may not be less than one-third.
- If you die with parents, but no surviving spouse or children, your parents inherit everything.
- If you die with siblings, but have no surviving parents, spouse, or children, your siblings inherit your property.
If you die without a will, there’s a slim chance that your property will be taken by the state. Georgia’s laws are designed so that your property will go to any surviving relative beyond your immediate family, like grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, or cousins.
That’s why we tell our clients that planning for the future is a gift to your family. They have peace of mind because your estate plan, including your will, is taken care of and in order. During their time of mourning, they can focus on their emotional care, without the financial worry.
Why It’s Important to Hire an Experienced Estate Planning and Probate Attorney
If you die without a will in Georgia, your children will receive a share of your property. This share depends on whether you have a surviving spouse and how many children you have.
However, this area isn’t as simple as it sounds. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Your biological children will receive a share of your estate.
- Legally adopted children will receive a share of your estate.
- Foster and stepchildren who you’ve legally adopted will receive a share. If you didn’t adopt them, they won’t automatically receive a share.
- If you legally placed children up for adoption and another family adopted them, they won’t receive a share.
- If you die before a child conceived by you is born, they’ll receive a share, as long as they were born within 10 months of your death and survived 120 hours after birth.
- If you and your spouse mutually consented to conceive a child through artificial insemination, that child will receive a share.
- A child conceived by you outside of marriage will receive a share as long as a court has established paternity, you acknowledged your paternity in writing, or you signed the child’s birth certificate.
It’s always important to have a lawyer by your side when you have questions about parent-child relationships, especially when other family members are involved. Our experienced probate attorneys at Steele Law Firm are here to help people located in Cobb County and throughout north Georgia to provide the guidance you need. To learn more about your options, give us a call today.
This is a good time to consider creating a will so that your family members aren’t left wondering what will happen to them and your assets if you haven’t planned for the future. While a comprehensive estate plan isn’t ‘cheap’, having no plan is often far more costly to you and your family in dollars and not having peace of mind about a secure future.
Plus, an experienced probate attorney can help you navigate the Georgia probate system in a cost-saving way. For example, the team at Steele Law Firm can ensure that you don’t miss deadlines that can result in hearings, costly judgments, and expensive legal bills.
Trusted Marietta Probate Attorneys Help Clients Through the Estate Planning and Probate Process in Cobb County and Throughout North Georgia
There are some other things you might want to know about Georgia intestate succession law if you or another person in your family pass away without a will.
- If you have a half-sibling, with whom you share a mother or father, he or she will inherit as if you share both parents in common.
- If you have a relative who isn’t a citizen of the United States or isn’t here legally, he or she is eligible to receive a share of your estate.
- If your spouse dies within six months of your death without a will, your property will pass on to your spouse’s heirs, not yours.
- If a relative intentionally kills you, he or she won’t be eligible to receive a share of your property.
The estate planning and probate process can be complex and difficult to navigate without a strong and knowledgeable legal advocate in your corner. Our lawyers at Steele Law Firm are available to sit down with you and help you understand how the probate process works in Georgia. When you work with an experienced probate attorney, you’ll save time and reduce the stress that comes with handling an estate, including costly, protracted, and emotional litigation. We can guide you through probate in a way that’s as easy as possible for you and your family.
And remember, if you put an estate plan in place for yourself now, the probate process will be far less expensive and time consuming for your loved ones, when you pass. To learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation, if you’re located anywhere in the Metro Atlanta area or north Georgia.
While having an estate plan is important for everyone, it’s especially key if you’ve got these additional complicating factors:
- A blended family with your spouse
- Family members who don’t live in the United States or are non-citizens
- Real estate in more than one state
- A high-liability job or profession
- Family members who are estranged or cause drama
- A business or other commercial ventures
- Minor children.
Contact Steele Law Firm to Set Up a Consultation With an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney Who Serves All of Georgia Today
At Steele Law Firm, our knowledgeable probate and estate planning attorneys are here to help you preserve your family’s future and help to create a lasting legacy to pass on to future generations. If you’re handling a probate or considering a comprehensive estate plan no matter your age, it’s never too early (or late) to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney. When you work with Steele Law Firm, you’re investing in high-touch, high-impact estate planning, which gives you a comprehensive plan tailored to your family and assets.
Steele Law Firm serves clients in Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Dekalb, Fannin, Forsyth, North Fulton, Gilmer, Gordon, Gwinnett, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk counties, as well as throughout the entire state of Georgia.