Given the major difficulty most people have with acknowledging the absolute certainty of their own deaths, intestate laws will always be needed. Here are some interesting facts about dying intestate that usually hold true in most states.

General Information about Dying Intestate  

  • Requirement of survival. Although this can vary among states in terms of what must be proved, many jurisdictions require an inheriting person to have survived the deceased by 120 hours. Also, the legal standard of proof that's applicable (“clear and convincing proof”  versus “a preponderance of the evidence”) may also vary;
  • Inheriting between parent and child. This is usually allowed if the relationship has been established (1) naturally -- you were physically born into the relationship; (2) by legal adoption (which ended your legal inheritance rights in regards to your biological parents); or (3) via equitable adoption. This last way of establishing a parent-child relationship means that if you live in a state willing to accept evidence that your “parent” had agreed to adopt you (but never actually carried out the plan), you can still inherit through this person;
  • Inter vivos gifts/advancements. Affluent people often give relatives large sums of money each year while they're still alive, in keeping with various tax limitations. These types of gifts are also sometimes only made to help an adult child by a car or a home – or for other purposes.


Under common law, there was a presumption that such gifts should reduce the donee’s later share of the giver’s estate. Today, no such hard – fast rule exist. However, it's very wise to try and give equally to adult children as bitter feuds often develop over this type of situation -- lasting long after a parent has passed away;

  • Who normally receives the first shares of intestate property. In general, (although some state laws may vary), those who are first legally rewarded with property are: (1) your spouse, (2) any children or “issue;” (3) parents (4) children of parents (5) grandparents [or their children], (6) next of kin or (7) when no relatives can be found, the state where the intestate person was legally residing at the time of death is awarded the funds.

To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.

Shane Smith
Connect with me
Advocate for the Seriously Injured in Georgia

Contact Us

Before you sign any documents, we urge you to contact our legal team using this short form. We will be in touch within 24 hours to discuss your case.