Inheritance Law question

Started by Zach, April 02, 2009, 01:48:02 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Good Afternoon,

I'll try to be brief here, and hopefully I don't leave out any relevant facts.

I need some advice on how to research and determine if my father and I have a valid claim. Most of the emotional stuff is just something I'll have to process.

My Grandfather and Great Grandfather died within days of each other. This was in 1981

My great grandfather had no will as far as my father knows.

The estate was 120 acres in Ellijay, Gilmer County GA. Land that has been in my family since just prior to the Civil War. My g-grandpa, grandpa, and my father were all born on that land. In sad fact, the land was taken from Indians, won by my family in a lottery.

My great uncle (grandpa's brother) moved onto the land, and has lived there since. No one challenged him at the time.

Now 85, he is putting his affairs in order.

He just had the land surveyed for the first time in anyone's memory.

He intends to will all of the land to his son, who has no children and plans to sell it to a developer at a conservative $15k per acre. That sure is alot of money.

I don't want any money. But I would like some of the land. And my father doesn't even want the land sold.

I have mixed feelings about this. My great uncle has always been my hero. Taught me to hunt, fish, garden, carpentry, its a long list. I can hardly bring myself to speak against him. But I also feel he has lived a long peaceful life on that land and I am not taking from him. I have always felt that if my grandfather had lived longer, the land would have been rightfully divided. I feel I lost a birthright. Should I man up, and get over it? Or do we have a legitimate claim on the land? And if so, what do I do about it? My father is suspicious of lawyers, thinks we'll get screwed.  I feel we've already been screwed. Anyone have any advice to offer?

Thanks for reading, sorry if I wasn't as brief as I intended.



This is not legal advice.  This is for discussion purposes only.  The does not establish an attorney/client relationship.

I did not read if your grandfather had a will.  Who did title pass from/to.  Generally under statute of frauds all claim to title or interest in land has to be in writing. Who was the executor of your great grandfathers estate?  Who died first, you grandfather or great grandfather?  If it was your great uncle that was the executor and he decided that he gets the land in full and no one had a written claim to the land, it may be difficult.  The spouse or children of your grandfather might only be the ones with standing to even bring a claim.  I have not had a lot of experience in estate law. Unless your grandfather had a will transferring his interest in the property to you, I do not think you have standing in court to make a claim, only your father would.  Also if your grandfather died before your great grandfather, without a will, I do not think your father would have standing either.

I would check with an estate lawyer for anything discussed here. If you can not afford an attorney, many local bar organizations offer legal programs for indigent persons.  I volunteer with these sometimes. 

Again, this is not legal advice.


Also the fact that your grreat uncle has lived on, maintained, and paid the taxes for the land for almost 30 years could be a factor even if your father had a claim.


I agree you need an opinion from a local lawyer who is well versed in estate law. We've been through an estate without a will deal and it was very unsettling, seemingly unfair experience. In cases like that the laws of the state will supersede any and all so called common sense solutions.

With that in mind every should have a will made if you don't have one and review it if it's a few years old. FYI, bank accounts, investment accounts and the like can be titled with a payable or transferable on death to a designated beneficiary to avoid probate. Rules vary state to state. In NM we can title a vehicle as a TOD, transfer on death. Ditto on real estate. 
Just because something has been done and has not failed, doesn't mean it is good design.


If nobody challenged the brother's claim to live on the land and he's been paying taxes he has legal rights to the land and its disposition upon his death. I would say if you're going to challenged him you need get a good attorney quickly.

The other option, and I don't know how close you are, is to go to your Great Uncle and ask if he would deed over fifty acres to your and your father.


Lawyer up.  NOW.  You need a good Georgia attorney who is well versed in property law/real estate litigation to look into this for you.  As others have hinted at, your great uncle may have established a claim to the land, even though he had no title originally, through a doctrine called adverse possession.  Not all states recognize this doctrine and each that does tends to have different rules governing it.  Even if he has such a claim, if he has not specifically asserted it, you may have the opportunity to prevent it. 

Even though your great grandfather and your grandfather may not have had wills drawn up, Georgia will have statutes that deal with intestate succession.  Typically these say that if a decedent had no will, but had a spouse living, his estate will got to him/her.  If no spouse, do they have surviving children?  If yes, it is divided equally among them.  If no, they inquire whether the decedent has  grandchildren, etc. 

Good luck. 

-- Pritch
"The problem with quotes from the internet is that they're not always accurate." -- Abraham Lincoln