Most Georgia residents who put an estate plan into place do so to ensure that their loved ones will be provided for when they pass away, but this is not always the case. Not all family relationships are warm and loving, and there are situations where individuals would prefer to pass their assets to charitable organizations or friends rather than their spouses and children.
There is no law requiring individuals to provide for their families when they die, but individuals who wish to disinherit their spouses and children must draft a will or put trusts into place. This is because assets are distributed to family members when a person dies intestate. Another thing to bear in mind is that simply not mentioning children in a will is not enough to disinherit them. In these situations, children could claim that they were merely forgotten and challenge the will. To avoid this, wills should specifically state that children are being disinherited.
Disinheriting a spouse is a far thornier issue in most of the country, but the inheritance laws of Georgia allow it. In most other states, spouses are entitled to between a third and a half of their deceased husband or wife’s assets. Georgia law does allow widows and widowers to claim a year’s worth of financial support from their former husband or wife’s estate, but the amount they get will be determined by a judge based on their financial needs.
Attorneys with estate planning experience may urge their clients to think carefully before disinheriting their spouses or children as taking this path will likely give rise to bitter disputes. When this course of action is taken, attorneys may recommend revisiting the estate plan from time to time to ensure that it still reflects the testator’s wishes. Attorneys might also advise using trusts that allow assets to be distributed only when certain conditions are met.