WHAT IS YEAR’S SUPPORT?
The “Year’s Support” is a law very specific to Georgia. In fact, Georgia is the only state in the USA that has Year’s Support.
Most states, surviving spouses and minor children are entitled to a portion of the estate by law, regardless of what the Will says. However, in Georgia, the spouse and minor children can be excluded from the estate under a Will. Nonetheless, they still are entitled to one year of support from the estate, thus the creation of Year’s Support.
In a Year’s Support petition, the spouse or minor child requests a portion of the estate that will allow them to survive for a year. However, under Georgia law there is no limit to how much of the estate can be included in the Year’s Support petition, allowing the surviving spouse or minor child to include all estate assets in their petition.
WHEN COULD FILING FOR YEAR’S SUPPORT BE ADVANTAGEOUS?
The surviving spouse and minor children can take assets free of all estate debts, including one year of property tax. This is a great tool when estates hold debts that eat up a large amount of, if not all of, the estate assets. The advantage can be so great that many surviving spouses who were given assets under the Will have renounced their bequest and then chosen to take those assets under Year’s Support instead to avoid the debts.
As stated before, there is no limit to the size of what can be requested under Year’s Support, enabling the petitioner to request the entire estate.
TIME LIMITS & FACTORS TO CONSIDER
It is important to remember that a Year’s Support petition must be filed within two years of the death of a loved one and can only reach assets that belong to the estate.
Before a surviving spouse or minor child file a Year’s Support petition, they should identify and inventory the contents of the estate. This can be a time-consuming step as many significant properties or accounts may be considered to be non-Probate assets as the ownership automatically transferred to someone upon death.
For example, a house or bank account may be owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship. Complete ownership would transfer to the surviving owner(s) of this property. Automobiles and other vehicles owned by multiple parties automatically transfer to the surviving owner(s).
Other property maybe titled to the name of a trust. These trust assets are not part of the estate and will be managed by a Trustee or Trustees.
Moreover, when a deceased dies with a membership or significant share of a company such as an S-Corp, LLC, LLP, et cetera, the transfer of the interest may be governed by bylaws or partnership agreement of the company.
Finally, the proceeds of retirement plans such as IRAs and 401(k) plans and life insurance policies typically go straight to the beneficiary as defined by the policy and are not included in the estate. However, if the life insurance has no stated beneficiary or the estate is named as beneficiary, then the policy proceeds must be included in the Probate of the estate to be transferred according to the Will.
WHY CONSULT WITH US
The best way to understand what is in the estate and whether to include it in Probate is to consult an experienced Year’s Support law firm like Pasley, Nuce, Mallory & Davis, LLC. We will work with you to find solutions that fit your situation and respect you and your family members’ legal rights. After being involved in probate matters for decades, we know how complex or even hopeless some problems can seem. We can advise you if Year’s Support might be the route you should go. Contact us at any of our 4 office locations to put our knowledge and experience to work for you.