Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Georgia

My Dad passed away Oct 13, 2015 in Jeffersonville, GA (closest major City is Dublin,, GA). He was very sickly, especially the last year. He has a wife and her name is on the house, only. He has a church (that is paid off) which is on the land of the house. Two weeks ago she asked for my and my 4 sibling address (because she said he left us something in the will. To date we have not heard from her. Our correspondences are document. I want her to take her 1/3rd from the house and get off the property. I really don't think he had a will - I think she is stalling for time. My sibling (5 total) are from his first wife; we have a step sister - from his second wife and lastly, his current wife - they had a child who is grown and married. This lady is the same age as my oldest sister - so she is my peer. Please direct to an attorney so, they can tell us what we need to do.

Asked on 11/19/15, 11:10 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

You are not going to take the wife's home. The home is in her name and belongs to her, not your father. Probate is only for assets that are in your father's name. And you are not getting the wife's 1/3rd share. Assuming you recover anything it will be on behalf of all of the father's children,not just you, unless there is a will stating otherwise.

Why is it relevant that some lady is the same age as your sister?

You don't tell me anything relevant. It is also irrelevant that the closest city is Dublin.

Jeffersonville is located in Twiggs County. If that is correct then an estate will need probated for your father in Twiggs County. The court is located in the county seat which is Jeffersonville, not Dublin.

First question, did your father have a will? Its important to know. If he had a will, what does it say? Parents do not have to leave anything to their children and your father could have left all to current wife. If there was a will, when was it made? While your father was healthy or while he was sick? If the latter, can a will challenge, called a caveat, be brought? Will caveats generally seek to invalidate wills based on fraud, undue influence or lack of testamentary capacity. You say your father was sick, but sick people can make wills. The question is whether he was so sick or so under the influence of wife 3 that the will could not have been the product of his own free will. Also, was the will drafted by an attorney or a do-it-yourself thing?

If there is no will then the current wife and ALL of the man's children get to inherit. Step-siblings do not count. The children must be the biological or adopted child of your father in order to inherit from your father.

Assuming no will, then current wife and children would inherit on a 1/3rd to wife, 2/3rd to children basis. Homes are attached to land usually and referenced by a DEED. Check with the Twiggs County register of deeds to see whose name is on the land and how the land is titled. As I said, if things are in the wife's name then you are not getting any of it. Same is true if land/house was owned jointly between wife and your father with right of survivorship.

You indicate your father owned a church. That is nice but what value does it have? Does it have a separate deed? Who owns the land on which the church sits? If your father did not own the land but owned the church, then you may be forced to move the church off the land.

What else did your father own and how was it titled? Is wife going to probate an estate for your father? That may be why she needed your and your siblings' name and address. It is not uncommon to wait at least 30 days after death before seeking to petition for probate. She has to wait for death certificates before an estate can be probated. Your father has not even been dead much over a month. You have not given the wife much of a chance to act. I assume she had some feelings for your father and has to cope with his loss too.

I suggest that what you should do is contact the probate court and find out if an estate has been opened for your father. If so, get a copy of the probate petition and will if any. If not, then make a list of your father's children, names and addresses, a list of assets that you know of and visit the register of deeds and get a copy to all land owned by your father. Then talk to your siblings and all of you hire ONE probate attorney to represent you. The probate attorney can see if the wief plans on probating an estate. If not, then one can be probated by any of you children. If a will exists but wife will not produce it, she can be made to do so.

I do not make referrals. I do not know anyone in Twiggs County. You will need a probate attorney who practices in Twiggs County and knows the probate court clerks and judges there.

Read more
Answered on 11/20/15, 3:23 pm

Related Questions & Answers

More Probate, Trusts, Wills & Estates questions and answers in Georgia