Georgia Intestacy Laws
Georgia Intestacy Laws
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Georgia's Intestacy Laws

If you die without a valid will while residing in the State of Georgia, you are said to have died "intestate."  In order to determine who will receive your property if you die intestate, the State of Georgia has established a number of laws (known as "intestacy laws" or "laws of intestate succession.") The primary statutes comprising these intestacy laws, or laws of intestate succession, are set forth below. For a more complete list, see Georgia Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession statutes.

 

 

Rules of inheritance when decedent dies without will

(a) For purposes of this Code section:

          (1) Children of the decedent who are born after the decedent's death are considered children in being at the decedent's death, provided they were conceived prior to the decedent's death, were born within ten months of the
decedent's death, and survived 120 hours or more after
birth; and

          (2) The half-blood, whether on the maternal or paternal side, are considered equally with the whole-blood, so that the children of any common parent are treated as brothers and sisters to each other.

(b) When a decedent died without a will, the following rules
shall determine such decedent's heirs:

          (1) Upon the death of an individual who is survived by a spouse but not by any child or other descendant, the spouse is the sole heir. If the decedent is also survived by any child or other descendant, the spouse shall share equally with the children, with the descendants of any deceased child taking that child's share, per stirpes; provided, however, that the spouse's portion shall not be less than a one-third share;

          (2) If the decedent is not survived by a spouse, the heirs shall be those relatives, as provided in this Code section, who are in the nearest degree to the decedent in which there is any survivor;

          (3) Children of the decedent are in the first degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally, with the descendants of any deceased child taking, per stirpes, the share that child would have taken if in life;

          (4) Parents of the decedent are in the second degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally;

          (5) Siblings of the decedent are in the third degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally, with the descendants of any deceased sibling taking, per stirpes, the share that sibling would have taken if in life; provided, however, that, subject to the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection (f) of Code Section 53-1-20, if no sibling survives the decedent, the nieces and nephews who survive the decedent shall take the estate in equal shares, with the descendants of any deceased niece or nephew taking, per stirpes, the share that niece or nephew would have taken if in life;

          (6) Grandparents of the decedent are in the fourth degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally;

          (7) Uncles and aunts of the decedent are in the fifth degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally, with the children of any deceased uncle or aunt taking, per stirpes, the share that uncle or aunt would have taken if in life; provided, however, that, subject to the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection (f) of Code Section 53-1-20, if no uncle or aunt of the decedent survives the decedent, the first cousins who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally; and

          (8) The more remote degrees of kinship shall be determined by counting the number of steps in the chain from the relative to the closest common ancestor of the relative and decedent and the number of steps in the chain from the common ancestor to the decedent. The sum of the steps in the two chains shall be the degree of kinship, and the surviving relatives with the lowest sum shall be in the nearest degree and shall share the estate equally.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-1

  

Inheritance by children born out of wedlock and their offspring

(a) Children born out of wedlock have no inheritable blood except that given to them by express law.

(b) A child born out of wedlock may inherit in the same manner as if legitimate from and through his mother, from and through the other children of his mother, and from and through any other maternal kin, whether collateral or lineal.

(c)     (1) A child born out of wedlock may not inherit from or through his father or any paternal kin by reason of the paternal kinship unless, during the lifetime of the father and after the conception of the child:

                  (A) A court of competent jurisdiction has entered an order declaring the child to be legitimate, under the authority of Code Section 19-7-22 or such other authority as may be provided by law;

                  (B) A court of competent jurisdiction has otherwise entered a court order establishing the father of the child born out of wedlock;

                  (C) The father executed a sworn statement signed by him attesting to the parent-child relationship;

                  (D) The father signed the birth certificate of the child; or

                  (E) There is clear and convincing evidence that the child is the child of the father and that the father intended for the child to share in the father's intestate estate in the same manner in which the child would have shared if legitimate.

        (2)      (A) Paragraph (1) of this subsection notwithstanding, a child born out of wedlock may inherit from or through his father or any paternal kin by reason of the paternal kinship if evidence of the presumption of paternity described in this Code section is filed with the court before which proceedings on the estate shall be pending and the presumption is not overcome to the satisfaction of the trier of fact by clear and convincing evidence.

                 (B) There shall exist a rebuttable presumption of paternity of a child born out of wedlock if there shall have been performed, after the conception of the child, parentage-determination genetic testing which establishes at least a 97 percent probability of paternity. Parentage-determination genetic testing shall include, but not be necessarily limited to, red cell antigen, human leucocyte antigen (HLA), red cell enzyme, and serum protein (electrophoresis) tests or testing by deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) probes.

       (3) If one of the requirements of subparagraphs (A) through (E) of paragraph (1) of this subsection is fulfilled, or if the presumption of paternity set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection shall have been established and shall not have been rebutted by clear and convincing evidence, a child born out of wedlock may inherit in the same manner as if legitimate from and through his father, from and through the other children of his father, and from and through any other paternal kin, whether collateral or lineal.

(d) In distributions under this Code section, the children of a deceased child born out of wedlock shall represent the deceased parent.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-4-4



Inheritance from children born out of wedlock

(a) The mother of a child born out of wedlock, the other children of the mother, and other maternal kin may inherit from and through the child born out of wedlock in the same manner as though the child were legitimate.

(b) The father of a child born out of wedlock, the other children of the father, and other paternal kin may inherit from and through the child born out of wedlock in the same manner as if the child were legitimate if:

          (1) A court of competent jurisdiction has entered an order declaring the child to be legitimate under the authority of Code Section 19-7-22 or such other authority as may be provided by law;

          (2) A court of competent jurisdiction has otherwise entered a court order establishing paternity;

          (3) The father has, during the lifetime of the child, executed a sworn statement signed by the father attesting to the parent-child relationship;

          (4) The father has, during the lifetime of the child, signed the birth certificate of the child; or

          (5) The presumption of paternity described in division (2)(B)(ii) of Code Section 53-2-3 has been established and has not been rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-4

 


Children conceived by artificial insemination

An individual conceived by artificial insemination and presumed legitimate in accordance with Code Section 19-7-21 shall be considered a child of the parents and entitled to inherit under the laws of intestacy from the parents and from relatives of the parents, and the parents and relatives of the parents shall likewise be entitled to inherit as heirs from and through such individual.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-5

 
 

Individual related to decedent through two or more lines of relationship

An individual who is related to the decedent through two or more lines of relationship is entitled to only a single share based on the relationship entitling that individual to the largest share under the laws of intestacy.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-6

 
 

Vesting of title to property; right to possession

(a) Upon the death of an intestate decedent who is the owner of any interest in real property, the title to any such interest which survives the intestate decedent shall vest immediately in the decedent's heirs at law, subject to divestment by the appointment of an administrator of the estate.

(b) The title to all other property owned by an intestate decedent shall vest in the administrator of the estate for the benefit of the decedent's heirs and creditors.

(c) Upon the appointment of an administrator, the title to any interest in real property which survives the intestate decedent shall vest in the administrator for the benefit of the heirs and creditors of the decedent, and title to such property shall not revest in the heirs until the administrator assents to such revesting. For purposes of this Code section, the assent of the administrator shall be proved in the manner set out in Code Section 53-8-15.

(d) Upon the appointment of an administrator, the right to the possession of the whole estate is in the administrator, and, as long as administration continues, the right to recover possession of the estate from all other persons is solely in the administrator. The administrator may recover possession of any part of the estate from the heirs at law or purchasers from them; but, in order to recover real property, it is necessary for the administrator to show, upon the trial, either that the property which is the subject of the action has been in the administrator’s possession and without the administrator’s consent is held by the defendant at the time of bringing the action or that it is necessary for the administrator to have possession for the purpose of paying the debts, making a proper distribution, or for other purposes provided for by law. An order for sale or distribution, granted by the judge of the probate court after notice to the defendant, shall be conclusive evidence of either fact.

(e) If an order has been entered under Code Section 53-2-41 that no administration is necessary, or if the administrator has assented to the vesting of title in the heirs, the heirs may take possession of the property or may sue for possession of the property in their own right.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-7

 
 

Death intestate, and without ascertainable heirs, of spouse of intestate decedent

(a) When the spouse of an intestate decedent dies intestate and without ascertainable heirs within six months of the decedent's death, any undistributed property of the decedent to which the spouse had been entitled prior to the spouse's death shall not escheat but shall be distributed to the heirs of the decedent who would have inherited the property under the intestacy laws if the spouse had predeceased the decedent.

(b) The nonexistence of heirs of the spouse may be determined by publication as provided in Code Section 53-2-51. If no heir of the spouse appears, the property, less the expenses of the proceedings to determine the nonexistence of heirs, shall be paid over as provided in subsection (a) of this Code section.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-8
 

 

Definition

As used in this article, the term "escheat" is the reversion of property to the state upon a failure of heirs of a decedent to appear and make claim for or against property owned by the decedent at death for which no other disposition was provided either by will or otherwise.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-50

 
 

Procedure

(a) If no person has appeared and claimed to be an heir within four years from the date letters of any kind on an intestate decedent's estate were granted, the personal representative shall petition the probate court of the county in which the letters were granted for determination that property has escheated to the state. Such a petition shall set forth the full name of the decedent, the date of death, the fact that no person has appeared and claimed to be an heir, and the property of the estate which may have escheated to the state.

(b) Upon filing of the petition, the probate court shall issue a citation as provided Chapter 11 of this title, requiring the heirs, if any, to file any objection to the petition by a date that is at least 60 days from the date of the citation, and shall order notice by publication to all heirs of the decedent as provided in Code Section 53-11-4.

(c) If no individual files objection as an heir who is entitled to the property on or before the date set in the citation, the court shall order the property to be paid over and distributed to the county board of education to become a part of the educational fund.

(d) If an individual files objection as an heir who is entitled to property, such claim shall be tried as other actions before the court. In such case, no property shall be paid over or distributed to the county board of education until the claim is determined in such manner as to establish that any individual making the claim is not entitled to the property.

(e) When property is paid over or distributed to a county board of education, the administration of the estate shall be terminated following a final return and the granting of a petition for discharge.

(f) The proceedings shall be conclusive upon and shall bind all the heirs of the estate.

(g) All expenses incurred in the administration of such proceedings shall be paid from the property or proceeds of the estate.

Georgia Intestacy Laws, Code Sec. 53-2-51

 
[Georgia Intestacy Laws | Intestate Succession]

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