Wondering “what happens if I die without a will in Georgia”?

First of all, dying without a will means that you won’t have a say in who gets what and in what amounts. If you have a written plan that follows the requirements of the law, that is the plan that controls what happens with your estate. If you don’t have a will, then the law will control what happens; not your wishes. The laws calls this “dying intestate.”

A will is just one document that typically comprises an estate plan. There are different kinds of estate plans: will-based plans and trust-based plan. You can center your plan around a will (a will-based plan). You can center your plan around a trust (a trust-based plan). The vehicle that will work best for you depends on your circumstances and the goals that you have for the things you want to leave to others.

You may be wondering whether you actually need an estate plan. Maybe you think that you’re not wealthy enough? Maybe you think that your loved ones know what to do? Maybe you think that your loved ones will honor your wishes? But, are you sure?

Wthout an estate plan, it won’t matter if you didn’t speak to your children for years. It won’t matter if one child took care of you, while the others did nothing. It won’t matter if you were separated (but not yet divorced) from your spouse. It won’t matter if your estate is modest or worth millions of dollars. It won’t matter if you wanted everything to go to your favorite aunt. The only way to be certain that things work out as you intend is to have a properly executed estate plan.

What Happens if I Die Without a Will in Georgia : What Does it Mean to Die Intestate

What Happens I Die Without a Will in GeorgiaPerhaps most importantly, if you don’t create your own estate plan, the State of Georgia has one for you. The state’s plan is called the laws of intestacy. These rules set out in Georgia’s statutory law govern who benefits from your estate, even if it’s someone you don’t want to benefit from your passing.  (Read more about the Georgia Legal Code about intestacy )

When you fail to write down what you want to see happen to you, your kids, your pets, your money or your things, then you are leaving those decisions to others. Although it may seem like that could make things more simple for those you leave behind to leave it up to the law, but what you may inadvertently do is leave behind confusion and uncertainty instead.

The Bottom Line on Intestacy / Dying Without a Will in Georgia

Dying without a will means that figuring out what to do and who gets what from your estate can take a long time. Look at Prince. He died in 2016 without a will. A Minnesota judge is tasked with distributing Prince’s assets — estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. His heirs at law are his 6 siblings and half siblings. It is likely that figuring out what to do with his estate will go on for years. In Georgia, a typical probate case takes around 8 months to a year to complete, but sometimes a probate case can drag on for much longer depending on the complexity involved. If you have an estate plan, it is more likely that your estate will be resolved smoothly and efficiently.

Get a P.L.A.N.™

When you make your estate plan, you decide whether you want that plan to be will-based or trust-based. If you have a written plan that follows the requirements of the law, that is the plan that controls what happens with your estate. Regardless of which option is most appropriate for you, you have to have something in place. Everyone needs to Protect Loved ones & Assets Now – what we call a P.L.A.N.™

Do More than Wonder What Happens if I Die Without a Will in Georgia, Get a P.L.A.N.™

You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to create a PL.A.N. (Protect Loved ones & Assets Now).™ A P.L.A.N.™ allows to you decide what is best for you and for those you leave behind, and to make sure that your decisions are clearly communicated and honored. A P.L.A.N.™ provides purpose, direction, and control.

At Stone & Sullivan, LLC, we look forward to working with you to create a P.L.A.N.™ that reflects your instructions, goals, and expectations for your things. Call or email us to get started on putting your P.L.A.N.™ together today.

Key Terms and Links

Testate: the condition of having died with a valid Last Will and Testament that covers at least part of the decedent’s assets.

Intestate: The condition of having died without a valid Last Will and Testament (can also be partial) See also my article “What is Intestacy”.

Testator/Testatrix: Person who makes a Last Will and Testament

Decedent: Person who passed away

Devisee/Beneficiary/Heir: One or more individuals who receive assets from a decedent Probate Estate: Assets that cannot be transferred to others after death without going through the probate/estate administration process

Link to the Chatham County Court Including Probate

Image of Prince with hand on ear : jimieye from flickr.com – https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimieye/ [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]