My Mom (or Dad) Remarried. Will Their New Spouse Inherit Everything?
It’s never easy to lose a parent, no matter what age they are when they pass. In most cases, it will be the responsibility of the surviving spouse or children to administer their estate. This becomes easier if the deceased dies with a will or trust in place—but even so, questions about inheritance are bound to come up. Specifically, if your mom or dad remarried, you may be wondering, “Will my parent’s new spouse inherit everything?” The answer to this question isn’t cut and dried and will depend on a few different factors.
If you’re concerned about inheritance issues and want to speak with an estate planning attorney, contact E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC. Located in Lithonia, Georgia, Attorney Banks-Ware is proud to serve individuals and families in Decatur, Conyers, Covington, McDonough, Lawrenceville, and the rest of the state.
Dying Without a Will
When an individual dies without a will in place (known as dying intestate), this typically means that their estate will have to go through the legal process of probate. Here, a judge will assign someone the role of administrator, and this person’s job will then be to locate and organize all the deceased’s assets, have them appraised if necessary, contact heirs, address and pay any debts or taxes, then figure out who to distribute the assets to. This process typically takes several months to complete and can be rather expensive depending on the estate.
Another concern that comes up when there is no will is deciding who should be awarded the assets. Unsurprisingly, when there’s been no directive from the deceased, this can often spark family in-fighting and disputes about inheritance. When there is no will to consult, a judge will order the assets to be distributed per the terms of Georgia’s intestate succession laws. It’s important to understand how remarriage and inheritance rights work together so you’re not caught unaware during probate. A skilled probate attorney can help you navigate this process.
Georgia’s Intestate Succession Laws
Each state gets to lay out its own intestate succession rules, but these only pertain to certain assets. For example, the following assets will not be subject to these laws:
An asset that’s already jointly owned with another person
An asset that’s been placed into a trust
A retirement fund, pension, or IRA that has a named beneficiary attached to it
A life insurance policy with a named beneficiary
A payable-on-death bank account
Other assets that aren’t already assigned to a specific person will be passed down per the state’s intestate succession laws. In the case of someone who is married and has children, the heirs will split the assets equally. However, the spouse’s share can’t be less than ⅓.
Children’s Inheritance Rights in Georgia
There are further laws that spell out different scenarios as they pertain to the children of the deceased. These can help you better understand the inheritance rights of children and a new spouse. The following are a few examples to be aware of:
Adopted children are treated the same as biological children under the law
Stepchildren or foster children are not entitled to an automatic share
Any children born outside of marriage will be treated the same as others as long as there is proof the child belonged to the deceased
Grandchildren will only be entitled to a share if their parent (who is a legal child of the deceased) has passed away
Personal & Professional Legal Guidance
If you’re in the Lithonia area and want to sit down with a probate attorney to discuss concerns over your parent remarrying, your inheritance rights, or any other estate issue, reach out to E.N. Banks-Ware Law Firm LLC. While there are Georgia laws that govern inheritance in most cases, there may be options that you’re unaware of. Set up a consultation with Noreen Banks-Ware today.