When a person dies, their assets are distributed in the probate process. If a person dies without a will, an administrator is named to handle the distribution of the estate after a petition to probate the estate is filed with the court in the county where the deceased resided. Heirs may disclaim property by a written disclaimer filed with the court.
To dispose of the real property interests of the decedent, the executor or administrator executes an executor's deed or fiduciary deed. For example, if a person who is a co-owner dies, the administrator of the estate can execute a fiduciary deed transferring their interest to the remaining owners. Joint tenancy property passes outside of probate; however, it may be severed so that the property becomes part of one person's estate and passes to that person's heirs. Each joint tenant has an equal, undivided interest in the whole property, and automatically will inherit the share of a deceased joint tenant by right of survivorship, without the requirement of going through probate.
There are various methods for disposing of the property of a decedent. If formal probate proceedings are unnecessary, a petiton for temporary administration may be made, and a court order will allow the sale of property. If all debts of the decedent have been paid (or if all creditors consent or fail to object after notice), if there is no other need for formal administration, and the heirs agree on how the estate will be divided, a petition may me filed with the court to declare that no administration is necessary.
§53-2-7 provides that title to both real and personal property of a decedent vests in an administrator upon appointment; title to real property no longer immediately vests in the heirs at law, as under current law. Title to real and personal property vests in the heirs at law if no administrator is appointed within five years of the decedent's death or in accordance with an Order Declaring No Administration Necessary upon its entry of record. Property will escheat to the state after four years, instead of five.
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The following are GA statutes:
53-2-7. (a) Upon the death of an intestate decedent who is the owner of....
(a) Upon the death of an intestate decedent who is the owner of any
interest in real property, the title to any such interest which survives
the intestate decedent shall vest immediately in the decedent's heirs at
law, subject to divestment by the appointment of an administrator of the
(b) The title to all other property owned by an intestate decedent
shall vest in the administrator of the estate for the benefit of the
decedent's heirs and creditors.
(c) Upon the appointment of an administrator, the title to any
interest in real property which survives the intestate decedent shall
vest in the administrator for the benefit of the heirs and creditors
of the decedent, and title to such property shall not revest in the
heirs until the administrator assents to such revesting. For purposes
of this Code section, the assent of the administrator shall be proved
in the manner set out in Code Section 53-8-15.
(d) Upon the appointment of an administrator, the right to the
possession of the whole estate is in the administrator, and, as long as
administration continues, the right to recover possession of the estate
from all other persons is solely in the administrator. The administrator
may recover possession of any part of the estate from the heirs at law or
purchasers from them; but, in order to recover real property, it is
necessary for the administrator to show, upon the trial, either that the
property which is the subject of the action has been in the
administrator's possession and without the administrator's consent is
held by the defendant at the time of bringing the action or that it is
necessary for the administrator to have possession for the purpose of
paying the debts, making a proper distribution, or for other purposes
provided for by law. An order for sale or distribution, granted by the
judge of the probate court after notice to the defendant, shall be
conclusive evidence of either fact.
(e) If an order has been entered under Code Section 53-2-41 that no
administration is necessary, or if the administrator has assented to
the vesting of title in the heirs, the heirs may take possession of
the property or may sue for possession of the property in their own
53-2-51. (a) If no person has appeared and claimed to be an heir within....
(a) If no person has appeared and claimed to be an heir within
four years from the date letters of any kind on an intestate decedent's
estate were granted, the personal representative shall petition the
probate court of the county in which the letters were granted for
determination that property has escheated to the state. Such a petition
shall set forth the full name of the decedent, the date of death, the
fact that no person has appeared and claimed to be an heir, and the
property of the estate which may have escheated to the state.
(b) Upon filing of the petition, the probate court shall issue a
citation as provided Chapter 11 of this title, requiring the heirs, if
any, to file any objection to the petition by a date that is at least 60
days from the date of the citation, and shall order notice by publication
to all heirs of the decedent as provided in Code Section 53-11-4.
(c) If no individual files objection as an heir who is entitled to the
property on or before the date set in the citation, the court shall order
the property to be paid over and distributed to the county board of
education to become a part of the educational fund.
(d) If an individual files objection as an heir who is entitled to
property, such claim shall be tried as other actions before the court. In
such case, no property shall be paid over or distributed to the county
board of education until the claim is determined in such manner as to
establish that any individual making the claim is not entitled to the
(e) When property is paid over or distributed to a county board of
education, the administration of the estate shall be terminated following
a final return and the granting of a petition for discharge.
(f) The proceedings shall be conclusive upon and shall bind all the
heirs of the estate.
(g) All expenses incurred in the administration of such proceedings
shall be paid from the property or proceeds of the estate.
53-1-20. (a) For purposes of this Code section, the term "property"....
(a) For purposes of this Code section, the term "property" includes any
interest in property and any power over or right with respect to the
(b) Any person to whom an interest in property is transferred or who
succeeds to property by contract or by operation of law may renounce the
property in whole or in part as provided in this Code section. A person
may renounce even if a spendthrift or similar restriction applies to the
property renounced. Persons who may renounce include fiduciaries acting on
behalf of an individual, such as personal representatives, trustees,
conservators, or guardians, as well as duly authorized attorneys in
fact, whether acting on behalf of an individual or fiduciary.
(c) A renunciation must be made by a written instrument that describes
the renounced property, declares the renunciation and the extent of it,
and is signed by the person making the renunciation.
(d) The written instrument must be received by the transferor of the
property, the transferor's legal representative, or other holder of
title to the property not later than the date which is nine months
after the later of:
(1) The date of the transfer; or
(2) The day on which the person making the renunciation reaches the
age of 21.
The instrument may also be filed in the probate court of the county in
which proceedings concerning the transferor's estate are pending or in
which they could be commenced and, in the case of real property, in the
real property records of the county in which the real property is
located. An instrument so filed in the probate court shall be
conclusively presumed to have been received by the personal
representative of the transferor's estate not later than the date of such
filing, but earlier receipt may be shown.
(e) A person who has accepted property or any of its benefits may not
renounce the property.
(f)(1) Except as otherwise provided by the will or other governing
instrument, a renunciation shall cause the renounced property to pass as
if the person renouncing had predeceased the decedent or, in the case of
property passing upon exercise of a power of appointment, as if the person
renouncing had predeceased the holder of the power, even if the
acceleration of a contingent remainder or other interest results. A will
or other governing instrument may otherwise provide expressly or by
implication, but the fact that a remainder or other future interest
following a renounced interest is conditioned upon surviving the holder
of such renounced interest shall not, without more, be sufficient to
indicate that such conditioned interest should not accelerate by reason
of such renunciation. Notwithstanding the foregoing, solely for the
purposes of the last clause of paragraph (5) and the last clause of
paragraph (7) of subsection (c) of Code Section 53-2-1, any individual
renouncing who is the only sibling or the only aunt or uncle surviving
the decedent shall not be deemed to have predeceased the decedent.
(2) Renounced property that is the subject of an attempted outright
gift shall be treated as an incomplete gift.
(3) A renounced power over property shall be treated as if such power
had not been created with respect to the person renouncing such power.
(4) The expression in a renunciation of an intent or desire that the
property pass to certain persons shall be considered merely precatory
and shall have no legal effect unless specifically declared to be a
condition of the renunciation.
(g) In every case a renunciation relates back for all purposes to the
applicable date among the following:
(1) The date of death of the decedent;
(2) The date of the death of the holder of the power of appointment;
(3) The date the gift was attempted; or
(4) The date the power was created.
(h) This Code section does not abridge the right of any person to
transfer or renounce any property under any other statute or common
law. Any renunciation that is otherwise valid but fails to meet the
requirements of subsections (c) and (d) of this Code section shall
operate as a transfer of the property to those persons who would have
received it had the renunciation met those requirements.
(i) Nothing in this Code section alters the duties of any fiduciary
to act in the best interests of the person the fiduciary represents.
This subsection shall not, however, limit the power granted by this
Code section to a fiduciary to renounce property.