State laws about inheritance matter in two circumstances. The first is when someone dies without a will, leaving their family to decide how to handle their estate. The second is when someone’s will violates state law.
Most people have no guaranteed right to an inheritance under federal or Georgia state laws, but there is one notable exception. Your spouse has a right to an inheritance from your shared estate if you predecease them – and vice versa.
If a testator creates an estate plan that allocates less of their property to their spouse than state law gives them a right to claim, the surviving spouse can potentially challenge the estate plan or will of the deceased individual. What is the statutory spousal right of inheritance in Georgia?
How much a spouse inherits depends on the structure of the family
The specific inheritance rights of a spouse who loses their partner will depend on the size of the family. Spouses generally have strong inheritance rights, but if there are children in the family, those children may also have a claim to the property of the deceased.
Typically, the estate plan of someone who dies will guide the division of their property. If they don’t have an estate plan, Georgia law requires that the spouse and children equally share the estate. However, the statutory inheritance rights as a spouse ensure that they should receive a minimum of one-third of the deceased spouse’s estate.
If someone leaves a will that gives their spouse less of an inheritance than state law allows the spouse to claim, that spouse can potentially challenge the estate plan to request their statutory inheritance. Unlike other states, Georgia may uphold the intentional disinheritance of a spouse.
If you’re having difficulty getting the inheritance you believe is rightfully yours, it’s wise to seek the help of an experienced estate planning attorney.