Rules of Inheritance

The following outline is a summary of the Georgia Law which determines who are heirs at law of a decedent (the person whose death necessitates the administration of his or her estate). The actual statute may be found in the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (OCGA), Section 53-2-1.

Heirs
The heirs are:
  1. The spouse is the heir if there are no children (and no children who died before the decedent leaving living children of their own or descendants of living children).
  2. The spouse and children are heirs if there are children as well as the children of any child or children who died before the decedent (as well as the deceased child’s descendants if any of the deceased child’s children also predeceased the decedent).
  3. If there is no spouse, children, descendants of deceased child, grandchild, etc., then the parents will be heirs.
  4. If no spouse, children, descendants of children, or parents survived the decedent, the brothers and sisters of the decedent and the descendants of any deceased brother or sister who predeceased the decedent will be the heirs.
  5. If none of the above were living at decedent’s death, then the grandparents will be the heirs.
  6. If none of the above were living at decedent's death, then uncles and aunts and descendants of any deceased uncle or aunt are the heirs. If all uncles and aunts are deceased, then 1st cousins share equally, rather than siblings taking their parent’s share.
  7. The more remote degrees of kinship are determined by a mathematical formula involving the relative in question and the closest common ancestor. If you have gotten this far, please consult OCGA sec. 53-2-1(b)(8). You may also need the assistance of an attorney.