Heirs at Law in Georgia
The following outline is a summary of the Georgia law that determines who are heirs at law of a decedent (the person whose death without a will (intestacy)) requires the administration of his or her estate). The actual statute may be found in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA) Section 53-2-1.
The heirs are:
- The spouse if there are no children (and no children who died before the decedent leaving living children of their own or descendants of living children)
- The spouse and children if there are children, and the children of any child or children who died before the decedent (as well as the deceased child’s descendants if any of the deceased child’s children also predeceased the decedent)
- The parents if there is no spouse or children, descendants of deceased children, grandchildren, etc.
- If no spouse, children, descendants of children, or parents survived the decedent, the brothers and sisters of the decedent and the descendants of any deceased brother or sister who predeceased the decedent
- If none of the above were living at decedent’s death, the grandparents
- If none of the above, uncles and aunts and descendants of any deceased uncle or aunt, but if all uncles and aunts are deceased, then first cousins share equally, rather than siblings taking their parent’s share
The more remote degrees of kinship are determined by a mathematical formula involving the relative in question and the closest common ancestor. If you have gotten this far, please consult OCGA sec. 53-2-1(b)(8). You may also need the assistance of a Georgia probate attorney. This information is also available in the form of a flow chart.
SOURCE: Athens-Clarke County.
In the state of Georgia, it’s not legally required for you to hire a probate lawyer after the passing of a loved one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. For one thing, a Cobb County probate attorney will have a lot of insight into the process, which is something most folks just don’t have. After all, the probate lawyer works with probate cases all the time, is up-to-date on the most current laws, and has a pretty good idea of how to streamline the process as much as possible.
Hiring a Marietta probate lawyer is a good idea for another reason, too: If you do something wrong in the proceedings, the liability is on you. Considering all the complicated paperwork, financial responsibilities and time-sensitive deadlines, a lot of folks just don’t want to take on that kind of responsibility. Additionally, the person in charge of an estate (the Executor) is often dealing with his or her own grief and doesn’t want the additional stress of the job.
That said, plenty of estates can go through probate without a lawyer. If all of the decedent’s assets can be transferred outside of probate, then a probate lawyer wouldn’t be necessary. Cases like that might include assets that are held in joint tenancy, or those that have a named beneficiary, such as an insurance policy or retirement account.
It’s up to the individual in charge to determine if or when professional advice is needed. Some circumstances where this might happen could include:
- Family members threatening to contest a will
- Business dealings that weren’t complete when the decedent passed away
- The need for a guardian for a minor or disabled adult
- A shortfall of assets to cover debts owed by the estate
- There are complications with the taxes
- Assets were not properly owned by an existing trust
If the situation isn’t overly complex, you may only need the Marietta probate attorney to consult with you or review a few documents. A couple of hours of the attorney’s time might be all you need to ensure that you’ve got everything in proper order. On the other hand, if things start looking particularly complicated, it’s a good idea to gather up all your materials and sit down with an experienced probate lawyer in Cobb County for your own protection and your family’s peace of mind.
If you’d like to give your loved ones and yourself the gift of peace of mind, please call Steve at 770-425-6060 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information on filing probate in Georgia, click here for Seven Steps to Handling Your Loved One’s Estate.
Probate attorneys in Marietta are well aware of how difficult the process can be for families and friends who are grieving, for those who value privacy, and even for those who need to get an estate closed to pay off debts and take care of other obligations. Day in and day out probate attorneys hear about the downsides of probate.
What Is Probate
Probate is a process used by courts in Georgia, as well as across the country, to settle the affairs of a deceased person. This legal process ensures that the estate fills its obligations and that its assets are distributed fairly according to the law. Technically, “probate” refers to the settling of an estate according to a will, but when someone dies intestate (without a will), most people still refer to the process that follows as “probate.” There may be a few slight differences between the processes, but they are very, very similar.
Why Do People Avoid Probate?
There are a few reasons that people want to avoid the probate process, and they’re good reasons most of the time. Examples include:
- It can take a long time.
- It can cost a lot.
- Everything is in public records.
Individuals who engage in solid estate planning before death are often able to take care of the estate better than those who die intestate, or even those who only use a will. For example, a probate attorney in Cobb County GA can help determine when a certain kind of trust could be used to avoid paying more taxes than necessary after death.
When Is Probate a Good Thing?
While many people have been conditioned to think that probate is a terrible thing, probate lawyers in Marietta see plenty of cases where it is quite beneficial. For example, it may be quite difficult to track down all the creditors owed by an estate. By following the legal procedures, there is eventually a cut-off date for any unascertained creditors. This keeps creditors from coming back months or even years later and demanding payment.
Probate can also be helpful in cases where beneficiaries are receiving disproportionate inheritances. It provides an opportunity for parties to make their claims and legally resolve any disputes. Probate lawyers in Marietta GA often see how having this type of forum can lessen tempers while making sure that all parties can be heard before acting on legal precedent.
So, while you will generally hear about why you want avoid probate, it’s good to remember that it certainly has its place in the judicial system. Should you find yourself facing probate, our firm’s probate attorneys in Marietta Georgia are skilled at helping move the estate through the process as efficiently as possible.
If you’re ready to get started with the probate process after the passing of a loved one, please contact our experienced Cobb County probate attorneys at (770) 425-6060 or contact us here to schedule a complimentary case review.
WHAT IS PATERNITY?
Paternity means fatherhood, the quality or state of being a father.
WHAT IS A PATERNITY TEST?
A Paternity Test is a DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) or genetic test that determines whether a given man could be the biological father of a child.
ON WHAT GROUNDS CAN I RECEIVE A PATERNITY TEST?
Paternity test are not just used to determine whether an individual is the biological father of a child. A Paternity test is useful in many situations, including:
- Assisting women seeking child support from a man who denies he is a child s biological father.
- Helping men attempting to win custody or visitation rights.
- Providing peace of mind for men wishing to confirm paternity.
- Establishing proof of heritage for an adopted child seeking their biological parents.
- Determining grand parentage, inheritance rights, insurance claims or Social Security benefits.
- Assisting in immigration cases on the grounds an individual is a biological relative of a citizen.
- Establishing Native American Tribal Rights.
- Determining rightful heirs by DNA profiling for estate purpose.
- Providing conclusive evidence of sisterhood or brotherhood for siblings separated for long periods of time.
WHAT IS A "LEGITIMATION"?
Legitimation is a legal action which is the only way, other than by marrying the mother of a child, that the biological father of a child born in the State of Georgia may establish legal rights to his child.
WHO MAY FILE FOR LEGITIMATION?
Only the biological father of a child may file a petition seeking to legitimate his child.
WHAT IS THE LEGAL EFFECT OF A LEGITIMATION?
An order of legitimation creates a father and child relationship legally between the petitioner and his child. An order of legitimation establishes that the child may inherit from his legal father and vice versa. An order of legitimation allows the legal father to be listed on the child’s birth certificate as such. An order of legitimation is the only way that the father of a child born out of wedlock can be recognized as the legal father of a child and therefore can petition for custody and/or visitation with this child.
If you are already listed on the child’s birth certificate as the father, but you and the child’s mother were not married to each other, you must still file a petition with the court to legitimate your child.
Effective July 1, 2005, requests for custody and/or visitation may be included in your petition for legitimation.