- by Melanie Webre
- in More
Brothers and sisters often act as our first best friends, and many of us stay close to them through the years. Even in cases where siblings live out of state or contact with one another is more infrequent, a strong bond often exists. Estate planning allows for you to provide for the needs of these loved ones in the event of your passing. By creating a last will and testament, you can name siblings as beneficiaries, outlining any assets or property you want them to receive. Without a legally valid will or other estate planning documents, such as a trust, in place, siblings have limited inheritance rights in Georgia probate proceedings.
Sibling Inheritance Laws
Under Title 53 of the Georgia Code, there are ways you can protect the inheritance rights of your siblings. As part of estate planning, some of these options may include:
- Trusts, which allow you to pass along property and assets, while retaining control over them during the course of your life. Naming a sibling as the beneficiary of a trust permits you to set guidelines on when they receive assets and how they are to be used.
- Life Insurance and Retirement Accounts, in which you name your siblings as beneficiaries;
- Payable on Death (POD) accounts, available through your financial institution, which can allow siblings to access funds for funeral costs and other expenses;
- Last Will and Testament, which allows you to leave money, property, or personal belongings to specific people, including siblings.
Life insurance, retirement funds, and POD accounts pass directly to your siblings, but wills and trusts are subject to probate proceedings. While wills can be contested due to technical errors or on the grounds of incapacity and fraud, trusts generally provide more protection against disputes. Without either of these documents in place, which is referred to as dying intestate, sibling inheritance rights are in jeopardy.
Inheritance Rights of Siblings in Georgia
When you die intestate, your estate is subject to the rules of intestate succession. This grants inheritance rights to certain family members, but may exclude siblings if your parents are still alive, or if you are married and have children. The Georgia Probate Court provides worksheets for determining beneficiaries under the rules of intestate succession. In general, the following applies:
- If you are married without children, your spouse inherits your estate;
- If you are married and have children, your estate is divided between your spouse and your children;
- If you have children who are no longer living, their children (your grandchildren) would be entitled to their parent’s share;
- If there is no spouse, children, or descendants of children, your parents would inherit the estate;
- If there are none of the above, then any siblings would be entitled to inherit. If any of the siblings are deceased, their children inherit their portion of the estate.
Reach Out to Us Today for Help
In situations in which there are issues regarding an inheritance, Stearns‑Montgomery & Proctor provides the professional legal representation you need to ensure your rights are protected. Call or contact our Georgia family law attorneys online and request a consultation to discuss your case and how we can assist you.