As an Atlanta Lawyers; Especially Atlanta Will Challenge Lawyers, I have seen the number of cases on the rise. As an Atlanta, Georgia Probate Litigation lawyer, I have represented many clients in different types of will contests. Especially common are the cases that involve undue influence in the writing of wills. When undue influence is found to have played a role in the writing of the will, then the court can determine that the will is null and void.
Undue influence occurs when an act takes place that overcomes the victim’s free will. Undue influence is most likely when there is a confidential relationship between those involved and when one of the parties is of greater mental capacity. The confidential nature of the relationship and ability of one party to exert influence over the other party due to a superior intellect are the key factors that allow the manipulation to go unnoticed.
Many cases of undue influence occur between parents and children. When a close relationship exists between one child and the parent, it is possible for the child to manipulate the parent into signing a Georgia will that favors that particular child. It is also possible for the influence to come from outside the family, for example from a hired caregiver who spends large amounts of time with the elderly person.
When faced with a case of undue influence regarding a will, the Georgia probate court will examine the mental state of the deceased at the time that the will was executed. Evidence of mental or physical coercion is required. Because direct evidence is difficult to collect (since the victim is deceased), the courts will rely on circumstantial evidence for proof. The court will try to determine if:
1) the decedent was easily influenced, due to age, health or general mental state
2) the person suspected of undue influence had an opportunity to coerce or manipulate the victim
3) the person suspected of undue influence had the motive or disposition to influence the victim
4) the person suspected of undue influence was actively involved in creating the will
5) the will appears to have been influenced
As soon as undue influence is suspected, it is critical to seek the advice of an experienced estate litigation attorney. Undue influence is often suspected upon administration of the decedent’s estate, but in other instances when noticed early on, the person exerting undue influence can be stopped before a will is executed. The Atlanta, Georgia estate litigation lawyers at The Libby Law Firm are qualified to assist with any probate or estate litigation issue. Please contact us to discuss your situation at (404) 467-8611. You may also send us a message through our confidential website form. Serving metro-Atlanta and northern Georgia, the Firm’s main office is conveniently located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.
Our Firm would be glad to be of service to you. The Libby Law Firm provides legal services throughout Georgia, including the cities and counties of North Georgia. Whether you are an individual, family, business, or other type of clientele, we welcome the opportunity to assist you.