Who Inherits if I Die Without a Will?

Georgia has very specific rules of inheritance for those who die without leaving behind a will. The legal term is “intestate” when someone dies without a will. For example, brothers and sisters may ask what about sibling inheritance or do brothers and sisters have inheritance rights? What about a person’s nieces and nephews? The answer depends on whether the person had a spouse or children.

Generally speaking the rules of inheritance move from the closest relative to furthest in degree of blood relationship if a closer relative cannot be found. According to Georgia Code §53-2-1 listed below are the rules of intestate inheritance,

  • If someone dies without children but is married, then the spouse inherits everything.
  • If someone dies with children and is also married, the spouse and children inherit equally. However, if one of the children has already died, then his or her children inherit that share. Also, the spouse must not be left with less than 1/3 of the total inheritance.
  • If the deceased person did not have a spouse, then the following relatives inherit in order of listing below:
    1. Children shall share equally. If one child has already died then his or her heirs inherit that portion,
    2. If there are no children, any living parent inherits,
    3. If there are no parents living, then siblings, i.e. brother or sister, inherit equally. The heirs of a deceased sibling inherit his or her share. If all siblings are deceased then their children, the nieces and nephews, inherit equally.
    4. If there are no siblings, then grandparents who are living inherit.
    5. If no grandparents are living, then uncles and aunts inherit and their heirs per their share if they are already deceased.
    6. Relatives beyond aunts and uncles are counted according to the closest degree of kinship.

These are the general rules. There are more rules determined by whether a parent abandoned a child or lost custody and other specific situations.

The only way to make certain your property is left to whom you want to have it is to make a will. For example, if you prefer a sibling to inherit rather than a parent who may be in hospice or have dementia, then you need to make a will. Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor has experienced attorneys to help you write a will to make sure your property is left to exactly whom you want to have it. Call 678-971-3413 today to set up a consult to discuss your will.