What Happens if I Die Without a Last Will and Testament?

A last will and testament (“will”) is the primary document to administer the assets that you leave behind.  If you don’t have a will, how your property is distributed and how your affairs are managed is determined by Georgia law.  Generally, your property will be distributed to your immediate family.  Unfortunately, this means that if you have minor children the court will determine how the property is held and managed and by whom.  Most likely it will be the other parent or guardian of the child.  While this does not seem like a problem, there are several scenarios where this may not be your intent.  One example is where the other parent is not be available.  Another example is when you have children from a prior relationship.  You may not want the parent of the child to be the guardian of property of money for your child.

Another important provision is that, no matter how many children you have from a current or prior relationship, at lease 1/3 of your property will go to your current spouse.  This is true even if you are physically separated.  If you do not have an adult spouse or immediate family member available, the court will appoint an executor  to administer your estate. If you have minor children and you are the sole parent, then the court will determine who becomes the guardian of your children.

This is just a broad summary of what happens when you pass away without a will.  That is why it is so important to have a will to describe exactly your desires at the time of your passing.  Much of this is equally true if you pass away and your will is invalid.  Needless to say, it is important to make certain that you follow the correct procedure in creating your will.

Jason M. Gordon



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