Do you think your spouse or children will automatically get your home when you die? Think again.
September 17, 2013
How real estate is handled without a will in Georgia.
Buying and owning a home can be a great source of joy. As the years pass, you can look back at all the memories and hopefully a bit of equity you’ve created along the way. Though we often don’t want to think of it, the assumption by many is that when they pass, their property will automatically go to their spouse, children, significant others. When one dies with a will, a specific set of legal instructions are left to follow. Assuming the will is not contested or deemed invalid, the Executor carries out your wishes and everything goes to whom you intended. Die without a will (intestate), and things become far more complicated and often more expensive for those you wished to protect.
One very large misconception is that your home would automatically go to your spouse. In Georgia, as many other states, this is just not true. Unless your spouse is named on the deed (joint tenancy with right to survivorship), the state will oversee to whom your estate is dispersed. Your loved ones will have to petition the court for Letters of Administration. Administration is the process by which the State determines the heirs to your estate. Now, the typical chain is spouse first, children second, then brothers/sisters, grandparents, etc… That’s great if everyone gets along and agrees on everything and/or it’s how you intended things to be done. Too often things do not work out so easily, or those at the top of the list may not be aware of your full intention on how and to whom property is awarded. If no heirs are found, your estate will escheat back to (become property of) the State.
Now, I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY! YOU MUST SEEK PROFESSIONAL LEGAL ADVICE to find your best solution to how and to whom you will pass along your estate. In most cases, you can find general information about the process of probating a will and/or requesting Letters of Administration on your local county or state government website. It’s typically going to be somewhere in the probate court information. Fees and processes will vary by county. Take some time to read up on it, so you can have good questions for your legal professional. If you plan to sell any of this property, consult your legal professional as early as possible. There are periods of waiting which must happen before you can transfer title. Additionally, it’s a very good idea to review family owned properties to which you are a part of the title, from time to time. Things change, and it’s easy to forget when something might need attention.
Contact me with any questions you have about how to sell estate owned properties. I can work with your legal professional to help you achieve a successful outcome!