MCFADDEN, P. J., RICKMAN and MARKLE, JJ.
Crawford, Executor of the Estate of Georgia Lee Crawford,
appeals from the probate court's order resolving various
disputes as to how the proceeds of the estate should be
disbursed. This appeal concerns the interpretation of a
year's support order that was entered after Georgia Lee
Crawford's husband, Mr. Sam Crawford, Sr., died intestate
in 1969. The probate court concluded that the
year's support order set apart the Crawfords'
homestead for the joint benefit of Mrs. Crawford and the
couple's three minor children, while the executor
contends that the homestead was set apart solely for the
benefit of Mrs. Crawford. For the reasons discussed below, we
affirm the probate court's decision.
appellate review, we will not set aside the probate
court's factual findings unless they are clearly
erroneous. In re Estate of Long, 307 Ga.App. 896,
898 (2) (706 S.E.2d 704) (2011). We review questions of law,
however, de novo. In re Estate of Knapp, 326 Ga.App.
486, 489 (756 S.E.2d 716) (2014).
viewed, the record shows that Mr. and Mrs. Crawford bought
certain real property, hereinafter "the homestead,"
in 1941, with each taking a one-half interest. When Mr.
Crawford died in 1969, he was survived by his wife, three
minor children, and several adult children. Mrs. Crawford
filed an application for a year's support. The ordinary
(now referred to as a probate court judge) appointed
appraisers to evaluate the estate, and they reported as
We, the undersigned, appointed by the Honorable the Ordinary
of said County of Columbia to assess and set apart a sum
necessary for the support and maintenance of the widow and
minor children of Samuel Crawford or (Sam Crawford),
deceased, for the space of twelve months, either in money or
such property as the said widow may select, do report, that
we have assessed and set apart as being necessary for the
support and maintenance of said widow and children which the
said widow has selected to take as follows:
ALL that tract or parcel of land . . . described in a deed
from [sellers] to Sam Crawford, dated Feb. 20, 1959 . . . .
ALSO, a one-half undivided interest in [the homestead, which]
is described in a deed from [seller] to Sam Crawford and
wife, Georgia Lee Crawford, dated June 30th, 1941 . . . .
And we also set apart the following household furniture for
the use of said widow and children: All house-hold and
kitchen furniture; 1 - 1958 Ford Pick-up truck . . .; 1 -
1958 2-dr. Pontiac Automobile . . .; 1 milk cow; and 5 head
of hogs; cash money on Deposit in Georgia Railroad Bank &
Trust C., $141.53.
ordinary adopted the appraisers' report, and the property
was set aside from Mr. Crawford's estate.
Mrs. Crawford died in 2011, she left a will that appointed
her son Lee Crawford as executor of her estate. The
Crawfords' homestead was sold for $125, 000 in December
2017. During administration of Mrs. Crawford's estate, a
dispute arose as to how proceeds from the sale of the
homestead should be distributed. One of the beneficiaries of
Mrs. Crawford's will, Larry Crawford, wrote a letter to
the probate court, asserting that the executor had erred in
distributing the estate. The probate court treated the letter
as a request for final settlement of accounts. After a
hearing, a transcript of which is not included in the
appellate record, the probate court entered an order
resolving the matter.
probate court concluded that the executor had made various
errors in distributing the estate. Among other conclusions,
the probate court found that when Mr. Crawford died and his
one-half interest in the homestead was set apart from his
estate pursuant to the year's support order, that set
apart was for the benefit of his widow and his three minor
children - not for the benefit of Mrs. Crawford
alone. As discussed in more detail below, this
finding is important because it determines how much of the
homestead became part of Mrs. Crawford's estate upon her
death. Under the probate court's ruling, Mrs. Crawford
held a 5/8 interest in the homestead: she owned a one-half
interest herself, and she obtained another 1/8 interest as
year's support. The remaining ownership interests - three
shares of 1/8 each - are held by the three children who were
minors when Mr. Crawford died.
appeal from the probate court's order, the executor
argues that pursuant to the terms of the year's support
order, the homestead was set aside solely for the benefit of
Mrs. Crawford. Thus, Mr. Crawford's one-half interest in
the homestead passed entirely to Mrs. Crawford. And, because
Mrs. Crawford owned the other one-half interest herself, the
entire homestead was part of her estate upon her death.
legal principles concerning year's support are
well-established. "When an individual dies testate or
intestate and is survived by a spouse and/or minor children,
the survivors are entitled, upon application to the probate
court having jurisdiction over the decedent's estate, to
an allowance out of the estate called a year's
support." Cabrel v. Lum, 289 Ga. 233, 236 (2)
(710 S.E.2d 810) (2011). The property may be set apart for
the benefit of the surviving spouse and children, or for the
surviving spouse alone. See, e.g., In re Estate of
Wallace, 284 Ga.App. 772, 774 (2) (2007). When property
is set aside for a widow and minor children, they all
"own the property jointly, subject to the widow's
right to consume the property [during her lifetime], and each
has a share in the unconsumed property which is transferable
on death to his or her heirs or legatees." Barber v.
Dunn, 226 Ga. 303, 306 (2) (174 S.E.2d 898) (1970). In
other words, when the year's support is for the widow and
the minor children, the widow's death does not result in
the entire property being distributed according to her will.
See id. at 238 (2); see also Ennis v. Ennis, 207 Ga.
665, 675 (63 S.E.2d 887) (1951) (when a year's support is
for the widow and the minor children, only the ...