Georgia Will Contest Attorneys
The Atlanta probate and estate litigation attorneys at The Libby Law Firm represent beneficiaries, heirs, executors, administrators, and personal representatives in will contest litigation and will disputes.
The most common litigation over the validity of a will involves claims of undue influence, lack of capacity, fraud, improper execution, or the existence of a will executed at a later time. Our Firm litigates matters involving challenging the validity of a will or the provisions in a will. Our knowledgeable Georgia Will Contest attorneys have handled a multitude of estate litigation issues relating to the validity of wills and administration of estates including:
Undue influence: There are unfortunate situations where a child or a friend of the decedent takes advantage of a testator and coerces them to execute a will that gives them rights or control under the will. If the will is made with unwarranted influence by another, the will's validity is subject to being contested.
Claims of lack of testamentary capacity: Sometimes, the decedent or “testator” did not have the testamentary capacity to execute a valid will. For example, if there was evidence of mental illness, Alzheimer's, dementia or alcohol or drug-related impairment at the time of execution, the will may not be valid. Generally the law requires that the testator be of “sound mind,” as shown by the testator’s capacity to (1) understand the nature and extent of his or her property, (2) know the people who would naturally benefit from the will, and (3) realize that the will he or she is executing controls the final disposition of their property.
Fraud: Like any document, a will is subject to being changed in a fraudulent and illegal manner. Pages can be switched, altered, or removed and reinserted. In fact, people may actually forge the will with the testator’s signature, forge the name of a witness, or even forge a notary public's signature. A will may be contested under any of these circumstances. Likewise, when a will is executed, the testator should be fully informed of relevant facts, information, and circumstances regarding matters relevant to their will. If the testator signs their will based on misinformation, or lack of information, it is possible the will can be contested.
Improper will execution: To be valid, a will must be witnessed and signed by two competent witnesses. The witnesses must view the testator signing the will. Preferably, a notary public should also witness the signing of the will. If any witness is a beneficiary to the will, or if the required witness did not observe the actual signing of the will, the will’s validity can be called into question. There are many other circumstances in which a will's validity can be challenged based on the strict formalities Georgia law provides for legal execution of a will.
Spouse and minor children’s rights to support: Under Georgia Law, a minor child or surviving spouse is entitled to a certain portion of the estate. If the testator left these heirs nothing or less than the statutory minimum, our attorneys can petition for a "year's support," under the Georgia year's support laws.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Executors, administrators, and personal representatives have a legal obligation to act in the best interest of the persons whom they have the fiduciary obligation. Fiduciaries are required to act with honesty and candor. Sometimes interested fiduciaries administer the estate with their own self interest in mind or do not act in the best interests of all parties involved. Thus, a claim for breach of fiduciary duty may arise.
Existence of a later Will: In general, a validly executed later will is presumed to revoke any prior wills.
If you are the executor or a beneficiary of a will that is the subject of a will contest or if you want to challenge a will that you believe is invalid, you should consult an experienced probate attorney.
We can serve as Local Counsel for Georgia Estate Litigation
The goal of the attorneys at The Libby Law Firm is to work with our clients to develop an effective litigation strategy-- taking into consideration the specific needs of the client and helping them evaluate the risks associated with litigation, as well as the benefits. Our Atlanta law firm has represented clients throughout the United States in probate and estate litigation matters as well in the estate administration of their loved one's will or trust. We have represented non-residents who are executors, children, spouses and other claimants in a variety of contested Trust and Estate matters relating to the following:
- Validity of wills, codicils, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents
- The beneficiary designations on life insurance policies, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and other paid-on-death accounts
- Disputes among relatives, care-givers and friends, relating to the division of assets
- Filing claims against estates for recovery of amounts owed by a person who failed to pay prior to death
- Assisting with payment and negotiation of creditors of the decedent
Many times, we are able to resolve matters without family members ever coming to Georgia, but there are some situations where a Georgia probate court may require the presence of the executor to open estate or for family members or administrators to testify if the case is in litigation. Our attorneys will do our best to eliminate the necessity of multiple trips or extended stays to Georgia by handling the rest of the issues involved in the case.
Please contact our Georgia Wills and Trusts Attorneys in our Atlanta, Georgia law offices or call us at 404-445-7771, to schedule a meeting or conference call consultation.