Question: My father passed, and his estate went to my mother. Now my mother has passed. Who receives the estate now?
Loraine’s Answer: If your father’s estate went entirely to your mother and it was fully administered before your mother’s death, then that part of the estate is already settled.
In terms of distributing what is now your mother’s estate:
- Assets that have direct beneficiary designations will be distributed to those beneficiaries.
- Any assets she owned jointly with another owner as ‘joint tenants with rights of survivorship’ now belong 100% to the surviving owner.
- Assuming that no assets are held in Trusts, any other assets are part of her probate estate. They must first be used to fully pay off debts, expenses, and taxes before anything else can be distributed.
If your mother had a Will, remaining assets go to the Will’s beneficiaries. If she didn’t have a Will, the state of her principal residence would determine her heirs.
In Georgia, if a person who dies is not married, any surviving children are the first in line as heirs. If the decedent had a child who predeceased them, that child’s surviving children would be considered heirs in place of the deceased child.
Key Estate Planning Takeaway: Whenever there are questions about a person’s estate, it’s a good idea to consult an experienced probate attorney for help determining what needs to be done and who gets what.
This “Q&A with Loraine” blog series features answers from Morgan + DiSalvo Partner Loraine DiSalvo that are based on questions originally posted on www.avvo.com. A key takeaway from each exchange highlights an important facet of estate planning.