Our Atlanta probate attorneys often receive questions about Georgia probate issues related to the estates of deceased relatives who lived outside of Georgia but owned property in Georgia at the time of the relatives death. Sharon Rowen has been answering Georgia probate law questions for 28 years. She has given many lectures on behalf of Georgia estate and probate attorneys. Her talks cover the gamut on state of Georgia attorney probate and estate issues. The following probate materials are taken from her the June 8, 2006 seminar materials, "Troubling Shooting Real Estate Transactions Involving Probate in Georgia". This probate paper may be of useful to people with Georgia probate issues involving deceased persons that were not domiciled in Georgia at the time of their death but did own real property in the state of Georgia. The Georgia probate attorney as well as the Georgia estate attorney understand the complexity of probate and estate law and the necessity to stay apprised of the continuing changes in the Georgia estate and probate statutes. Hopefully these seminar material will be of use to the lay person with Georgia probate issues related to non-residents as well as to the Georgia probate and estate attorney needing more in depth information.
If an intestate decedent who was not domiciled in Georgia owned real property located in Georgia, the real property will be distributed to his heirs in accordance with the laws of intestacy of the state of Georgia. OCGA 53-5-38. Upon the petition of any heir, creditor, or personal representative from the jurisdiction of the decedent's domicile, the probate judge of the county in which the real property is located, must appoint an administrator for the decedent's estate in Georgia. The procedure is the same as for appointing an administrator for a decedent domiciled in Georgia (OCGA 53-6-22). If the personal representative from the jurisdiction of the decedent's domicile is appointed, he or she is called the "ancillary administrator" or the "ancillary personal representative."
The laws of intestacy are set forth in OCGA 53-2-1 et seq. The rules can be summarized as follows:
1. If there is a spouse and no children, the spouse is the sole heir.
2. If there are children, the spouse shares equally with the children, per stirpes, but the spouse's portion shall not be less than a one-third share.
3. Children of the decedent, per stirpes
4. Parents of the decedent
5. Siblings of the decedent, per stirpes
6. If no siblings survive, nieces and nephews, per stirpes
8. Uncles and aunts per stirpes
9. If no uncles or aunts survive, then first cousins who survive the decedent
The more remote degrees of kinship are determined by a formula set out in the code section.
OCGA 53-2-3 sets forth the rules for inheritance by children born out of wedlock. In short, a child born out of wedlock inherits from the mother, but only inherits from the father if one of a list of conditions are met, or if there is other clear and convincing evidence that the child is the child of the father.
Conversely, OCGA 53-2-4 sets forth the rules for inheritance from children born out of wedlock.
OCGA 53-2-7 sets forth the rules regarding vesting of title to the decedent's property. Upon the decedent's death, title to real property shall vest immediately in the decedent's heirs at law, subject to divestment by the appointment of an administrator of the estate. When an administrator is appointed, the title to real property shall vest in the administrator, and title shall not revest in the heirs until the administrator assents to such revesting. The title to all other property shall vest in the administrator. The right of possession of the whole estate is in the administrator.
The identity or interest of any heir may be resolved judicially by the court, after the filing of a petition by any interested party.
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