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Year’s Support

Year’s support is a provision of law in Georgia that provides the spouse and minor children of a decedent a share of the decedent’s estate above and beyond what they are entitled to as heirs-at-law or beneficiaries under the decedent’s Will.  The purpose of the law is to ensure the continued support of the spouse and minor children for a one year period after the death of the decedent.  It derives from an old legal concept called a dower, which was a gift traditionally given by a husband to his wife upon their marriage that was for the purpose of supporting her if she became a widow.  The wife kept the dower during the course of the marriage but did not use it.  The concept has evolved into a legal claim against an estate that has priority over all other claims.  Unlike a dower, the property subject to a claim for year’s support is in the general estate of the decedent and not kept separate during the marriage. Also, while minor children of a deceased man might have benefited from his widow’s dower, they had no legal claim to it.  Today, each minor child of a decedent has his or her own individual claim for year’s support.

Claims for year’s support typically are seen in situations involving a married decedent with adult children from a previous marriage, especially where there is no Will.  This is because an intestate estate is split between the spouse and children.  The year’s support claim allows the spouse to claim not only an additional amount from the estate but also specific property in the estate, such as a home. Unsurprisingly, the claim often created hostility between the spouse and children.

A claim for year’s support may be made up to two years following the decedent’s death.  There are only two general issues to be addressed:

  1. Is the claimant entitled to year’s support?
  2. How much is the claimant entitled to from the estate, and what particular property?

The first question is simple to answer.  The claimant need only show he is a spouse or minor child.  Typically, the guardian of the minor child will make the claim on the child’s behalf.  Commonly, the spouse claiming year’s support will file a claim on behalf of any minor children she shares with the decedent as well, and the court may provide for the spouse and minor children in one award.

The second question is more difficult to answer, especially with regard to a spouse, and is usually the basis for objection. The claimant must specify in the petition which property he is seeking in the petition.  If an objection to the property sought is raised (either by a creditor, beneficiary, or heir), the court may look at certain factors in deciding whether the claimant’s demand is appropriate, such as what other assets and income are available to the petitioner and may also take into consideration the solvency of the estate.

Whether you are seeking an award for year’s support or believe you have a legitimate objection to one, you should be aware of the procedures and potential obstacles.  Our firm is experienced in pursuing and challenging claims for year’s support and can help you make the most of yours. Please call us or send us an inquiry.

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Atlanta, GA 30361

Phone: 404-445-7771
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