What Effect Does a Divorce Have on a Will in Georgia?

By Beverly Bird

Georgia is the only state, as of 2010, to allow a testator, or the person making a will, to disinherit a spouse. This makes the state one of the safest places to get a divorce from the perspective of planning your estate. There is no window of time when a spouse can be granted part of your estate if you die while you are separated or your divorce is in progress but before it is final.

Elective Share Provision

All other states have elective share provisions in their estate laws that prevent a testator from leaving a spouse out of her will. Spouses have a right to do something called “take against” a will in these states if it doesn’t leave them anything. A spouse can renounce the will in favor of receiving a portion of the deceased’s estate determined by law. The share a spouse can elect to take is up to half the estate in some states. If a divorcing testator dies before receiving a final decree, most states award the surviving spouse this elective share. Georgia has no such provision in its Official Code, so if you die while going through divorce proceedings or while you are separated, your spouse receives nothing more than a year’s support allowance, as long as you have not bequeathed him anything in your will.

Divorce Provision

If your spouse is a beneficiary in your will and you neglect to update your will to reflect a divorce, Georgia’s Code treats your spouse as though she predeceased you. Once your divorce is final, any bequest you made to her reverts to your estate when you die for disbursement to your other beneficiaries.

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Remarriage

If you remarry your spouse after a divorce, any provisions you made for her in your will are automatically reinstated. The exception is if you revoked or amended the will after your divorce. In that case, since Georgia allows the disinheritance of a spouse, she does not have a right to any of your estate unless you make a new will to include her.

Limitations of the Law

Wills cannot dictate the terms of Social Security benefits. If you are married for at least 10 years before you divorce, your spouse is entitled to collect survivors’ benefits under your Social Security record no matter what your will says. If he is 60 years of age or older, this does not affect the benefits your other survivors receive.

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Does a Divorce Exclude a Spouse From Inheriting Under a Will in Georgia?
 

References

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Wills in Maine

Maine’s statutes regarding wills are on par with other states. You must be of sound mind and at least 18 years old to make a will in the state, and your signature requires two witnesses. Maine allows your witnesses to also be beneficiaries. Self-proved wills are accepted and eligible for simplified probate proceedings after your death. To self-prove your will, you and your witnesses must sign a second sworn statement indicating that it is authentic, and attach the statement to the will.

CT Laws on Wills & Estates

When someone dies in Connecticut, the executor -- the person appointed in the will to carry out its terms -- has 30 days to submit the will to the probate court in the county where the deceased lived. The exception is if the deceased’s entire estate is valued at less than $40,000 and includes no real estate that requires transfer of title.

Does My Spouse Inherit Everything When I Die?

Whether your spouse inherits your entire estate depends on your state's laws. If you die without a will, your estate is divided according to state intestacy laws. If you had a will, your spouse's share is partly dependent on what you left her and whether you have surviving children or parents. Any part of your estate not subject to your state's estate laws, such as your retirement account, automatically belongs to the person you put as beneficiary on the account paperwork. Property you owned jointly with your spouse, such as your home, usually belongs to her as soon as you die.

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