The Atlanta lawyers at The Libby Law Firm are experienced in defending clients in disputes over the provisions of wills and administration of estate assets. Parties that can be defended in a will contest include the estate, beneficiaries, heirs or personal representatives. But it is usually heirs or beneficiaries who challenge a will, especially if they are slated to receive less from the estate than what they had originally anticipated. Once notice of the death or petition to begin probate proceedings is served, any parties interested in filing a will contest may come forward. The Libby Law Firm files Georgia Will Contests Caveat Petitions and just as often, their Atlanta Office defends Will Contests. As such, whatever role we engage on behalf of our client in will contest litigation, you can be assured, we know what opposing counsel is thinking and what their objectives are. Oftentimes, our Atlanta, Georgia will contest defense lawyers use tactics such as mediation, enhanced discovery, to catch opposing counsel of guard and to throw the theory of their case off balance, oftentimes, making them start over or think again about whether contesting the will in question.
Many conditions can provoke a Georgia will contest, including:
• The Testator’s Mental Capacity – if the deceased was not considered to be of sound mind and body when the will was executed
• The Imposition of Undue Influence on the Testator – if a third party a suspected of coercing the testator into executing a will that was not his true intention
• An Improperly Executed Will – if the will was not signed under the proper procedures, for example signed in the presence of the correct number of witnesses and in front of a notary public, or if any witnesses to the will are named as beneficiaries in the will
• Rights of a Surviving Spouse or Minor Child – the law mandates a statutory minimum of the estate to be awarded to a surviving spouse or minor child
• The Existence of Joint Accounts – joint accounts may have been set up for convenience only and may not express the wishes of the decedent to pass those assets on to the surviving account holder
• Poor Inventory and Accounting of Estate Assets – beneficiaries and heirs may question how the personal representative identifies, values and accounts for estate assets
• Unusual Gifts Made Before Death – any questionable gifts made by the decedent before death may cause heirs and/or beneficiaries to contest the will
• Breach of Fiduciary Duty by the Personal Representative – wrongdoing or negligent behavior during the administration of the estate
For testators, the key to reducing will contests is the development of a good strategy of asset distribution. It is important to remember that the legal costs of will contests are paid for out of estate assets. And besides the monetary cost, these disputes can delay the distribution of assets for months and even years. Because will contests are not easily won, Georgia personal representatives sometimes offer a monetary settlement to the challenger to minimize the cost and time that will be required to close the estate. Gifting portions of your estate before death will minimize the assets to be distributed through probate, thereby reducing the chance of will contests. Creating a trust is another way to leave assets outside of probate. Upon death, the assets in a trust are transferred to beneficiaries outside of probate, and as such will not be scrutinized by the parties involved in the probate proceedings.
At The Libby Law Firm our attorneys are qualified in all areas of probate court litigation, probate court law law, and will contest law. Contact us today to discuss how to leave a lasting legacy that honors your wishes and protects your loved ones at (404) 467-8611 . We can also be contacted by sending us a confidential message through our “Contact Us” form on our website. The Firm’s main office is conveniently located in the Buckhead section of Atlanta.