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Georgia Intestacy Laws

The following are excerpts from Georgia’s intestacy laws. Please reference the full body of the Official Code of Georgia for any changes to those laws that may not be reflected below.

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Georgia Intestate Laws

Title 53. Wills, Trusts, and Administration of Estates
Chapter 2. Descent and Distribution

§ 53-1-2. Definitions
As used in this chapter and Chapters 2 through 11 of this title, the term:
(6) “Descendants” means the lineal descendants of an individual including those individuals who are treated as lineal descendants by virtue of adoption.

(9) “Heirs” means those one or more individuals who survive the decedent and are determined under the rules of inheritance to take the property of the decedent that is not disposed of by will.

§ 53-1-8. Adopted individuals
A decree of adoption, whether issued by a court of this state or by a court of any other jurisdiction, shall have the effect described in Code Section 19-8-19, and the adoptive parents and relatives of the adoptive parents shall likewise be entitled to inherit from and through the adopted individual under the laws of intestacy in the absence of a will and to take as parents or relatives of the parents of the adopted individual under the provisions of any instrument of testamentary gift, unless expressly excluded therefrom.

§ 53-2-1. Rules of inheritance when decedent dies without will
(b) For purposes of this Code section:
(1) Children of the decedent who are born after the decedent’s death are considered children in being at the decedent’s death, provided they were conceived prior to the decedent’s death, were born within ten months of the decedent’s death, and survived 120 hours or more after birth; and
(2) The half-blood, whether on the maternal or paternal side, are considered equally with the whole-blood, so that the children of any common parent are treated as brothers and sisters to each other.

(c) Except as provided in subsection (d) of this Code section, when a decedent died without a will, the following rules shall determine such decedent’s heirs:
(1) Upon the death of an individual who is survived by a spouse but not by any child or other descendant, the spouse is the sole heir. If the decedent is also survived by any child or other descendant, the spouse shall share equally with the children, with the descendants of any deceased child taking that child’s share, per stirpes; provided, however, that the spouse’s portion shall not be less than a one-third share;
(2) If the decedent is not survived by a spouse, the heirs shall be those relatives, as provided in this Code section, who are in the nearest degree to the decedent in which there is any survivor;
(3) Children of the decedent are in the first degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally, with the descendants of any deceased child taking, per stirpes, the share that child would have taken if in life;
(4) Parents of the decedent are in the second degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally;
(5) Siblings of the decedent are in the third degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally, with the descendants of any deceased sibling taking, per stirpes, the share that sibling would have taken if in life; provided, however, that, subject to the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection (f) of Code Section 53-1-20, if no sibling survives the decedent, the nieces and nephews who survive the decedent shall take the estate in equal shares, with the descendants of any deceased niece or nephew taking, per stirpes, the share that niece or nephew would have taken if in life;





(6) Grandparents of the decedent are in the fourth degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally;
(7) Uncles and aunts of the decedent are in the fifth degree, and those who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally, with the children of any deceased uncle or aunt taking, per stirpes, the share that uncle or aunt would have taken if in life; provided, however, that, subject to the provisions of paragraph (1) of subsection (f) of Code Section 53-1-20, if no uncle or aunt of the decedent survives the decedent, the first cousins who survive the decedent shall share the estate equally; and
(8) The more remote degrees of kinship shall be determined by counting the number of steps in the chain from the relative to the closest common ancestor of the relative and decedent and the number of steps in the chain from the common ancestor to the decedent. The sum of the steps in the two chains shall be the degree of kinship, and the surviving relatives with the lowest sum shall be in the nearest degree and shall share the estate equally.

§ 53-2-3. Inheritance by children born out of wedlock
The rights of inheritance of a child born out of wedlock shall be as follows:
(1) A child born out of wedlock may inherit in the same manner as though legitimate from or through the child’s mother, the other children of the mother, and any other maternal kin;
(2) (A) A child born out of wedlock may not inherit from or through the child’s father, the other children of the father, or any paternal kin by reason of the paternal kinship, unless:
(i) A court of competent jurisdiction has entered an order declaring the child to be legitimate, under the authority of Code Section 19-7-22 or such other authority as may be provided by law;
(ii) A court of competent jurisdiction has otherwise entered a court order establishing paternity;
(iii) The father has executed a sworn statement signed by him attesting to the parent-child relationship;
(iv) The father has signed the birth certificate of the child; or

§ 53-2-4. Inheritance from children born out of wedlock
(a) The mother of a child born out of wedlock, the other children of the mother, and other maternal kin may inherit from and through the child born out of wedlock in the same manner as though the child were legitimate.
(b) The father of a child born out of wedlock, the other children of the father, and other paternal kin may inherit from and through the child born out of wedlock in the same manner as if the child were legitimate if:
(1) A court of competent jurisdiction has entered an order declaring the child to be legitimate under the authority of Code Section 19-7-22 or such other authority as may be provided by law;
(2) A court of competent jurisdiction has otherwise entered a court order establishing paternity;
(3) The father has, during the lifetime of the child, executed a sworn statement signed by the father attesting to the parent-child relationship; provided, however, that when the court determines by clear and convincing evidence that the father caused his child to be conceived as a result of having nonconsensual sexual intercourse with the mother of his child or when the mother is less than ten years of age, such sworn statement shall be insufficient for purposes of this subsection;
(4) The father has, during the lifetime of the child, signed the birth certificate of the child; or
(5) The presumption of paternity described in division (2)(B)(ii) of Code Section 53-2-3 has been established and has not been rebutted by clear and convincing evidence.

§ 53-2-5. Children conceived by artificial insemination
An individual conceived by artificial insemination and presumed legitimate in accordance with Code Section 19-7-21 shall be considered a child of the parents and entitled to inherit under the laws of intestacy from the parents and from relatives of the parents, and the parents and relatives of the parents shall likewise be entitled to inherit as heirs from and through such individual.

§ 53-2-6. Individual related to decedent through two or more lines of relationship
An individual who is related to the decedent through two or more lines of relationship is entitled to only a single share based on the relationship entitling that individual to the largest share under the laws of intestacy.

§ 53-2-8. Death intestate, and without ascertainable heirs, of spouse of intestate decedent
(a) When the spouse of an intestate decedent dies intestate and without ascertainable heirs within six months of the decedent’s death, any undistributed property of the decedent to which the spouse had been entitled prior to the spouse’s death shall not escheat but shall be distributed to the heirs of the decedent who would have inherited the property under the intestacy laws if the spouse had predeceased the decedent.

§ 53-2-50. Definition
As used in this article, the term “escheat” is the reversion of property to the state upon a failure of heirs of a decedent to appear and make claim for or against property owned by the decedent at death for which no other disposition was provided either by will or otherwise.

§ 53-2-51. Procedure
(a) If no person has appeared and claimed to be an heir within four years from the date letters of any kind on an intestate decedent’s estate were granted, the personal representative shall petition the probate court of the county in which the letters were granted for determination that property has escheated to the state. Such a petition shall set forth the full name of the decedent, the date of death, the fact that no person has appeared and claimed to be an heir, and the property of the estate which may have escheated to the state.
(b) Upon filing of the petition, the probate court shall issue a citation as provided Chapter 11 of this title, requiring the heirs, if any, to file any objection to the petition by a date that is at least 60 days from the date of the citation, and shall order notice by publication to all heirs of the decedent as provided in Code Section 53-11-4.
(c) If no individual files objection as an heir who is entitled to the property on or before the date set in the citation, the court shall order the property to be paid over and distributed to the county board of education to become a part of the educational fund.