If someone dies without a Will, what happens?

UPDATED: Dec 7, 2011

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If someone dies without a Will, what happens?

There is a wife with no marriage license and a child. In GA.

Asked on December 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, Georgia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First off, if there is no marriage license then there may be no marriage. As a general rule, GA does not recognize common law marriage. That is unless it was created prior to 1997 or occurred in another state.

When someone dies without a Will they are said to have died "intestate". This means that the laws of the state in which the deceased dies will control. Typically, that is 1/2-1/3 to the surviving spouse, if any, with the remaining 1/2-2/3 to the children of the deceased to share equally. If there is no surviving spouse, then the children (or in this case the child if they have no other siblings or half-siblings) will inherit the entire estate.

Since the rules of inheritance vary from state-to-state, you should consult with a probate law attorney in your state. They will also be able to advise of the validity of the marriage under specific state statute.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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