Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Georgia

When a person who has no close relatives other than siblings, states in their will that the estate is to be equally divided among the siblings, and then outlives all of those siblings, what is the expected disposition of the estate? Value of the estate is less than $500,000.

Asked on 9/03/12, 7:28 am

3 Answers from Attorneys

Glen Ashman Ashman Law Office

That depends on what the will says happens when an heir dies. Since you chose not to tell us what the will said in that eventuality there is no way anyone here can possibly answer you.

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Answered on 9/03/12, 7:39 am

Robert Thompson J. Robert Thompson Attorney

This depends entirely on what (if anything) the will says about the death of a named heir.

1. If it says nothing at all (that is, it does not require an heir to survive the testator, and makes no alternative provisions in the event of death) each sibling's share passes to the sibling's estate, and is distributed in accordance with his or her will, or is distributed to his or her heirs at law by intestacy if he/she has no will.

2. If the will requires the heir to survive in order to inherit, but provides no alternative distributionm the testator is in effect intestate, and the estate passes to his heirs at law (basically to the descendants of the siblings who have descendants, each set of descendants getting their ancestor's share. if a sibling had no descendants, his or her share would be divided among the siblings who do, and distributed as part of their shares).

3. If the will requires the heir to survive, but provides an alternative if they do not, distribution follows that alternative.

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Answered on 9/03/12, 11:38 am

A probate attorney needs to review the will. As noted by Attorney Thompson, what happens depends on what the will says. If the will states "I leave all property to siblings," does it say anything about what happens is siblings die first? If not, does the will contain what is called a "residue clause" which says basically that "Anything else I own goes to X." If there is no residue clause then the siblings shares pass via intestacy. If the person had no spouse or children, then are the parents alive? I am guessing no. The next choice would be siblings, but if they are also deceased, then the estate may pass to the siblings' children if any. The state will try to find someone who is living - by going back to any siblings of the parents and their children if necessary but after a point, then a relative who is too distant will be cut off and the state will keep the money.

Your post illustrates why it is a good idea to periodically review a will to avoid the scenario you describe. Once it became evident that the siblings were deceased, the testator (person who made the will) should have changed their will to leave their property to their nieces/nephews, church, charity, alma mater or whatever to avoid intestacy.

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Answered on 9/04/12, 9:11 pm

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