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As a will probate litigation lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, I know it is important to understand the grounds to contest a Georgia will. If you are a beneficiary, however, it is important for you to know if the Georgia will contains a “no contest” clause. If the will does contain a “no contest” clause and you still try to contest it, you will likely be disinherited all together. At The Libby Law Firm, we can help you determine if there is a reason to contest a will and can represent your interests throughout the will contest process.


• Connected to the will-only people who are in direct connection to the will can contest its validity. You either have to be directly named in the will or a relative that should have been named in the will.

• Undue influence-if you believe that your loved one was influenced wrongly or created the will under duress in their final days, then you may have a valid reason to contest the will

• Fraud-if you believe that your loved one was the victim of fraud or wrongdoing, then you may be able to contest the will.

• Mental Incapacity-if you question the mental capacity of the deceased person or testator, then the will may be considered invalid. You must be able to prove that your loved one was not of sound mind and body when the will was created.


If you do not wish to contest the validity of a Georgia will, but wish to interfere with the GA estate proceedings to acquire what is rightfully yours, there is another way. You may be able to file a lawsuit against the recipient of the portion of the estate you believe is rightfully yours. It is important to note, however, that this must be done when the testator of the will is still living. The Atlanta will contest lawyers at The Libby Law Firm can help you determine which course of legal action is right for you.

As soon as you realize a GA will contest dispute attorney may be part of what is necessary, right, and required to achieve justice, it is essential you seek the advice of an experienced Atlanta, Georgia will challenge lawyer to dispute the validity of the decedent’s Georgia will. Acting fast may save your Georgia inheritance and the inheritance of others.

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 will challenge lawyers at The Libby Law Firm are fiercely qualified to represent you in any Atlanta probate or estate lawsuit to invalidate a will. Our GA probate attorneys work throughout Atlanta and the more rural parts of Georgia.
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Being an executor or administrator of a Georgia estate in probate court is no easy undertaking. In fact, as executor or administrator of a GA estate, you are stepping into a position ripe, ready and waiting for conflict and disharmony to develop among all the interested parties to the estate, or worse yet, parties that will use their influence to control others who do have an interest in the estate. To say the least, these matters are already emotional from the death of a loved one and now, as executor or administrator, you are in charge managing the often-greedy heirs or beneficiaries of the Georgia estate. At the very least, this can add substantial administrative and bureaucratic responsibilities to your life as well as significant anxiety and stress. Furthermore, these oftentimes come at a time when you may already be grieving and have your own affairs to manage. In almost all cases, this is further complicated by the significant administrative duties imposed by law on a GA executor or administrator and the fiduciary duties and liabilities that come with this position.

In most GA estates, both executors and administrators are frequently relatives or close friends of the deceased person (the decedent). This would seemingly be a plus; however, more often it turns out to be the starting place of many arguments, endless wrangling, power struggles and ultimately many GA Probate disputes, will contests and litigation proceedings. Many of these GA estate disputes and much of this GA probate litigation stems from the fact that many of the other members contesting the actions and alleged breach of the personal representative’s fiduciary duties are also frequently, family members, relatives, or close friends of the deceased person (the decedent). In fact, it is often the case that these family members, relatives and close friends stand to inherit assets of the Georgia estate or have some interest in the outcome of the distribution of assets.

Perhaps most importantly, acting as a personal representative gives you a fiduciary duty to the estate — that is, you are legally responsible for ensuring that your financial decisions are made with complete information, according to the estate’s best interests and as expeditiously considering the circumstances. This is the same fiduciary duty given to leaders of corporations, and like those leaders, you are legally liable for any lawsuit alleging that you have not met your fiduciary duties. This includes personal liability, which is beyond assets of the estate and not limited in any way, shape or form to the assets of the estate.

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In my many years as a Georgia probate attorney, I have come to believe that no matter how big or small an estate, Georgia will contests are here to stay. The typical will contest usually arises from some perceived unequal disposition of estate assets. Most of the time, distraught heirs, or beneficiaries will have their own ideas and theories regarding the unequal or unfair disposition of estate assets. However, they leave it to the Georgia will litigation lawyers to find the legal terminology and reasoning to substantiate their claim(s). While it seems many Georgia lawyers and layperson are rather indifferent to will contests and see them as nothing more than greed at its worst, I feel and see something totally different.

In my Georgia Probate Litigation law firm, I find a great amount of unique justice in seeking out a defendant who has taken it upon himself or herself to engage in illegal activity to cause a person to alter their free and voluntary making of their will, and thus alter the disposition of their estate. Thus, while the biggest stake in the result of Georgia will contest is without a doubt monetary, it is significant to convey that relationships between family members may be damaged. Even in tight-knit families, it is common to see infighting over estate assets due to emotional issues such as who was a certain parent’s “favorite” child.

To ensure that your assets are distributed as you wish, it is wise to implement a few strategies, such as the following:

Avoid using joint accounts that can disinherit children inadvertently: Many elderly people put a child or close relative on bank accounts for easy access and routine handling of affairs. Joint accounts pass directly to the joint account holder upon death of the primary account holder, so it is better to set up financial powers of attorney that give others the ability to help you without them being joint property owners.

Choose an impartial executor to administer your will: Commonly family members are asked to administer wills, which can create damage to family relations. A wise choice is to use a bank as executor. While this does carry a cost, many disputes can be avoided and self-dealing by the executor will not be a problem.

Try to treat children equally in the will: Unequal distribution of estate assets will likely cause friction between the children. This is because children often believe that their inheritance is a direct reflection of their parents’ love for them. When a child feels left out or cheated, he is likely to imagine that one or more siblings manipulated the parent. It is possible that this will result in a will contest.

Discuss big inheritance issues before they are written into the will: You should not need to discuss every detail of your will within your will. However, any unusual distributions in your will should be explained and documented. Disclosing these items in advance allows for your children to assimilate the information to understand the motivation behind the decision. Avoid going into detail about your decisions and make sure it is done with the assistance of a professional. Doing so may hurt your child’s feelings, which could trigger a will contest later on during probate proceedings. However, be careful not to induce an environment where there are attempts to influence you because of being open about your will and what will happen when you die. Be careful, this theory has a double-edged twist if proper protocol is not followed. (NOTE: Doing this with assistance is a must).

Give sentimental gifts to your children while you are alive, and equally: Let each heir know what you are giving to the other heirs. This strategy will allow you to see your heirs enjoying these precious items and can prevent Georgia probate disputes. This can also have tax benefits Continue reading →

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As an Atlanta Estate and Probate Attorney, many of my clients come to me for counsel during the difficult time following a loved one’s death. Confusion over how the Georgia probate process works and conflicts of interest between heirs and/or beneficiaries can make this process painful and complicated. During the Georgia probate process, assets from the estate will be distributed and any disputes between heirs or beneficiaries regarding estate assets will be resolved. The process of probate varies by state. In Georgia, the law is somewhat straightforward, but still extremely complicated for most any non-lawyer.

For a better understanding of the probate process, it is important to clarify a few commonly used terms:

Probate: the court proceedings that prove a Will to be the last valid Will of the decedent – it is also the process of administering the decedent’s estate
• Decedent: a person who has died
Estate: all of the decedent’s property, including personal property and real estate
• Heirs: in the absence of a Will, those persons who have a just claim to the property in the estate of the decedent
Beneficiary: a person who is identified in the Will to receive property from the decedent’s estate

• Will: a signed, legal document that states how the decedent wishes to distribute his property after death
• Testate: when a person dies and did write a Will
• Intestate: when the decedent did not write a Will, or when the Will is invalid
Executor: the person named in the Will to administer the decedent’s estate

• Administrator With Will Annexed: the person assigned by the court to administer the decedent’s estate when a Will exists, but has not named an Executor, or in the case that the Executor named is unwilling or unable to serve this duty
Administrator: when there is no Will, this is the person assigned by the court to administer the decedent’s estate
• Escheat: in the case that no heirs make claims to all or some part of the property in an estate, the state will receive the unclaimed property

Georgia probate proceedings usually are held in the Georgia county where the decedent permanently resided at the time of death. The county probate court will verify that the will presented in the proceedings is valid and that it is the last will that was written by the decedent. Once the will is verified, or in a case where there is no will, the probate court will oversee the distribution of the estate’s assets. When the decedent dies with a will, the estate will be administered in accordance with the decedent’s wishes that are expressed in the will. Should the decedent die without a will, Georgia’s Intestacy Statutes provide the scheme for distribution of estate assets. This usually means that the surviving spouse and children will receive the percentages of property first, followed by parents, siblings, and other family members.

The time that the probate process takes can run between seven or eight months for simple estates, to several years for more complex estates. During the process, the executor or administrator will identify the assets in the estate, perform an appraisal of those assets and pay any debts and taxes owed by the estate. Only after these steps are completed can the remaining property be distributed to the heirs and/or beneficiaries. Disputes between the parties involved over how these duties are performed will lengthen the process. The normal expenses incurred in probate, including the payment of debts and taxes, are paid out of the estate’s assets. Legal fees are also usually paid from estate assets.

The clarity with which a will is written will affect the duration and outcome of the process. Working with a qualified Georgia Estate lawyer to define exactly how your estate’s assets will be distributed is critical. If you are named as Executor or Administrator of an estate, a lawyer can explain your duties under Georgia Probate Law, help you fill out court forms and send the required probate notices. An attorney can also help you to meet all court deadlines. When issues between heirs and/or beneficiaries seem likely, or when they do come up, an experienced Probate litigation lawyer should be consulted so that delays in the proceedings, and additional costs, can be avoided.
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I have experienced first-hand the wide range of time frames and seemingly, intolerable leeway a Georgia executor or administrator has to carry out the fiduciary duties imposed pursuant to TITLE 53 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated entitled “WILLS, TRUSTS, AND ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES”. Under this Title 53, the Georgia Probate Court likely will allow the any GA executor or administrator varying degrees of time in which to undertake the Georgia estate administration process in any decedent’s estate. Any acting executor or administrator who is qualified and in charge of an estate in Georgia Probate court has approximately six (6) months to create an inventory of all of the estate’s assets, liabilities, debts and other relevant estate matters, and issue and provide any beneficiary or heir of the Georgia estate an inventory and accounting. Moreover, this seemingly lenient rule of Georgia Probate Law is oftentimes waived by an unknowing estate beneficiary or heir if they “sign off”, or “consent” to giving the estate executor or administrator this leeway.

The unknowing beneficiary or heir oftentimes signs documents as requested by the Georgia executor or administrator, or their GA Probate Lawyer, without knowing or asking what these documents mean. It is essential for any beneficiary or heir to understand the impact signing any “release” will have on them in knowing and understanding the estate’s assets, liabilities, debts and other relevant estate matters such as the status of the estate proceedings or their inheritance. As a rule of Georgia Probate Law, you should be very cautious about any documents you sign. This is especially true if it is requested you sign anything having to do with an estate under which you are a beneficiary or heir, where you are requested to sign in front of a witness or witnesses or in the presence of a Georgia Notary Public. Under Georgia Probate law, you are deemed to have read, understood and presumably had the right to consult with a Georgia Probate Attorney or Atlanta, Georgia Probate law firm concerning the meaning and impact of these documents. In my Probate Law practice, I often see beneficiaries and heirs unknowingly waive important rights to their detriment. Moreover, many times it becomes a “he says she says” argument as to whether the beneficiary or heir knew or understood the dire impact of the documents she or he signed or if any explanation was given at all.

If you are a beneficiary or heir under a Georgia Probate Court estate, you should consult an experienced Atlanta Probate Law Firm before signing anything. As an experienced Georgia probate lawyer, I can not tell you how many time clients come into our Buckhead, Atlanta, Georgia Probate Law Firm after it is to late and the client-beneficiary or client-heir has given up many important rights they would have been entitled to had they not signed important empowering estate documents to their detriment.

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As an Atlanta, Georgia probate dispute lawyer, I know a personal representative who “steals” or “defrauds” an estate, or otherwise behaves dishonestly, is a nightmare for a grieving family, the beneficiaries, and heirs. Unfortunately, I have seen in my Atlanta probate law firm practice, this occurs more than you might think. Inexperience with the legal and financial duties of a personal representative can lead to mistakes that have very bad results for the estate and its heirs or beneficiaries. In other cases, because executors and administrators are frequently family members or close friends of the person who died (decedent), they may have emotional or financial reasons for not being completely genuine. Or, they may have fallen on tough times and just think nobody is watching and no real harm will be done by “stealing” a “little bit” here and there.

Fortunately, Georgia fiduciary law allows you several ways to deal with a personal representative who is not meeting his or her duties, being dishonest or otherwise engaging in self-dealing. If you know ahead of time that the personal representative is not trustworthy, you may file a caveat — a probate law term for a formal objection — to that person’s role as personal representative. As a Georgia probate litigation lawyer engaged in will contests and probate disputes, I vastly prefer to take steps long before this stage, to minimize the costs to my client from both fraud and legal fees. Nevertheless, it is often not until the probate process is underway that heirs and beneficiaries realize that there are problems.

For that reason, the law also allows them to formally sue a dishonest personal representative for breach of fiduciary duty — that is, breach of the duty to act wisely and legally with another person’s money. In fact, you can file this type of claim when the personal representative has merely threatened to breach that duty, as well as when you have positive evidence that he or she has breached it. If you can prove your claim, you can ask a court to order one or more of the following remedies:

• Stop a threatened breach of fiduciary duty • Remove the personal representative • Replace the personal representative
• Compel the personal representative to do his or her duties • Reduce or deny payment to the personal representative • Have the personal representative pay back money stolen or lost because of a breach of fiduciary duty • Compel damage payments (compensation for the petitioner’s losses) from the executor or administrator (personal representative)
• Money or property given to the wrong beneficiary may also be placed in trust by the court while it works out the proper ownership.
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While we focus on Obama Care, health care reform, and whether social security will stay properly funded to keep up with payouts to the ever-increasing elderly retirees, it seems the financial abuse of the elderly and incapacitated has reached new highs. Most Atlanta, Georgia estate lawyers agree that in “looting the estate situations”, Adult Protective Services is not a preliminary answer, but can be of great service in many instances once the financial abuse is uncovered. The answer to this problem is action by you, the family and friends of the financially abused elderly and/or incapacitated persons.

Atlanta, Georgia probate lawyers should not only represent clients in Georgia probate cases after a loved one passes, but should be ready to intervene and stop the financial abuse of loved and/or incapacitated persons before they pass if they are the subject of looting, theft, elder financial abuse, etc. I have termed it “looting of the estate” is some instances even though the elderly person has not passed, and an estate has not yet been created. I believe that Greenway v. Hamilton is one remedy, but I think what is better is to catch the thieves during the life of the elderly and/or incapacitated and hopefully before too much money/assets have been stolen. These thieves are abundant and as easily found as your closest family member.

Atlanta, Georgia probate lawyers oftentimes practice Georgia probate law, but also work in estate administration, estate litigation, Georgia guardianship and conservatorship proceedings, and misuse/abuse of powers of attorney and just plain conversion of assets taken from the elderly and/or incapacitated. It seems lately I have noticed a disturbing trend and I want to be outspoken about it so that you, the reader and be on the lookout for financial elder abuse. It takes many forms, and usually is carried out by someone who is close to the loved one. I hope that more attorneys will look to GREENWAY v. HAMILTON. GREENWAY v. HAMILTON et al. No. S06A0050. JUNE 26, 2006, to bring many of these “thieves” to justice. I also help it will raise awareness of what may be happening will our loved ones try to enjoy their last years. Frankly, what I see happening more and more often is quite disturbing. That being theft from the elderly using powers of attorney, looting, conversion, undue influence for gain, and more.

This is in every way shape and for, FINANCIAL ELDER ABUSE and must be stopped! Here are some of the forms this looting of elderly assets takes place:

• Using a power of attorney to control assets of an elderly and/or incapacitated person, but use their monies for other purposes than the health, care, welfare, and well-being of the elderly and/or incapacitated person.

• Using monies of an elderly and/or incapacitated person for their own purposes and not for the caretaking of the elderly and/or incapacitated person. Oftentimes, the elderly and/or incapacitated person can do little to stop these thieves or do not understand the scam that is being perpetrated on them. Many factors contribute to this. Mostly is the lack of capacity elderly or incapacitated person suffer from prevents them from understanding what is happening.

Looting a loved one’s estate is a serious legal matter and one that should not be taken lightly. While using your influence to affect the estate and the will are one thing, deliberately forging documents or ignoring a will and testament’s wishes is another. While both are against the law, looting the estate is significantly more heinous and carries federal penalties, as well as, civil penalties.

When a person is ill or too incapacitated to care for him or herself, they depend upon the kindness and care of others to help them in their final years. Unfortunately, many people prey on these individuals and take advantage of them during this time. When a person deliberately ignores his loved one’s wishes as laid out in their last will and testament and disposes of the money and estate for their own personal gain, then they may be guilty of looting the estate.

If you are the heir to an estate, it is important to pay attention to the things that are going on throughout your loved one’s life. Make sure you regularly visit and remind your loved one to show you all documents BEFORE he or she signs them. If there is a will and testament already in place, make sure your loved one knows not to make any changes before consulting with you and your family. In addition to talking to your loved one, you should also talk to family members and other heirs to ensure that everyone involved agrees about your loved one’s care and treatment.
If you or someone in your family believes that your loved one may be the victim of estate looting or undue influence, it is important to contact an Atlanta probate and estate dispute attorney immediately. Your Atlanta, Georgia estate attorney can help you ensure that your loved one’s estate is protected from all types of fraud, looting, and greed.


If you feel you or your loved one is the victim of “looting of the estate”, immediately contact the Atlanta, Georgia estate lawyers at The Libby Law Firm. Our experienced Atlanta estate lawyers can stop the looting of the estate. Our Atlanta, Georgia estate attorneys have a number of methods. Most notably is bringing the looting or stealing of what will be estate assets to the attention of those carrying out this egregious act. This is conversion and is stealing, theft by taking, and/or conversion anyway you portray it.
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Atlanta Lawyersrecommend that clients have a lawyer prepare their will, powers of attorney, and other estate planning documents. The existence of a will makes the distribution of estate assets run more smoothly during probate proceedings and can significantly reduce disputes between heirs and beneficiaries. When a will is written, an executor can be named who will administer the estate. In some cases, when no executor is named in the will, or if there is no will, the court will assign an administrator. In all of these scenarios, disputes can arise surrounding the choice of the executor or administrator.

Disputes over executors and administrators
, which cause unneeded stress during probate proceedings, occur because the role of estate executors and administrators is so important. This is a fiduciary role in which the person administering the estate has very specific legal and financial responsibilities. Because of the serious nature of these responsibilities, there are times when the person chosen is regarded by the heirs and beneficiaries as being an inappropriate choice. Executors, as well as court assigned administrators, have to operate in a levelheaded, responsible manner during the process and they need to be able to understand the mechanisms of Georgia probate law. Besides possessing a calm disposition and having knowledge of the proceedings, they also need to be trustworthy and honest and have the best interests of all parties at heart. Without these traits, a poorly chosen executor or administrator can cause havoc in the proceedings. Fortunately, Georgia law does provide heirs and beneficiaries with a mechanism to remove executors and administrators.

Georgia probate law allows for a formal objection to be filed that removes the person picked to administer the estate. When the heirs or beneficiaries recognize that the person assigned to administer the estate is unfit, it is always preferable to remove them immediately when probate proceedings are initiated. By acting promptly, before any breach of the fiduciary duties can occur, costs associated with fraudulent actions and any ensuing legal fees can be avoided. Of course there are cases in which the person chosen initially appears to be adequate for the responsibilities, but later acts inappropriately, is dishonest or irresponsible. In those instances, it is possible to sue for breach of fiduciary duties, including, but not limited to, the removal and replacement of the administrator or executor. This can be done once a breach of duties occurs, or if a breach has not yet occurred, once there is evidence that the person intends to violate their fiduciary duties.

In any probate proceedings it is important to secure the counsel of a qualified and experienced Atlanta, Georgia probate attorney. Individuals acting without proper legal counsel can unknowingly file false or groundless petitions, such as petitions to remove a person assigned to administer an estate. These frivolous petitions carry specific penalties under Georgia probate law. For that reason, it is especially wise to always seek legal counsel to avoid these types of issues, as well as to ensure the most successfully outcome of the probate process.
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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

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In my Atlanta, Georgia Probate Law practice, I counsel many clients on the procedures that Georgia’s probate law dictates. Heirs and beneficiaries frequently ask questions about the duties of personal representatives in the probate process. A personal representative is either named in the will as an executor (and usually called an executor as opposed to a personal representative), or appointed by the court as an administrator. An administrator is appointed when no will exists, if an executor was not named in the will, or in the case that the named executor is unfit to serve. Personal representatives have a fiduciary duty to perform the required tasks of probate in a way that treats heirs and beneficiaries fairly. Nevertheless, personal representatives are almost always referred to as an executor or administrator. In short, an executor or administrator is a personal representative and the Official Code of Georgia gives them this title. What is more, is that personal representatives must give an inventory and/or accounting to heirs or beneficiaries who have a legitimate concern or reason to know about the estates assets.

However, as a Georgia Probate, Wills, Trusts, and Estates Lawyer, what is problematic to me when it comes to an executor or administrator, is that there are so many situations where the heirs or beneficiaries do not hire a lawyer and demand an inventory or accounting merely because the Will or Letters of Administration state that the executor, administrator, or personal representative is relieved from performing this duty.


The general list of tasks of Georgia personal representatives includes taking control of the estate’s assets, paying off the estate’s debts and administration expenses, selling estate assets to pay debts and expenses (or to distribute assets more efficiently), filing tax returns on behalf of the estate, distributing assets to beneficiaries and heirs, filing any required reports (including an inventory and accounting), and applying for discharge from office. The first step of taking control of the estate’s assets is critical. In this step, the personal representative must identify, locate, and value the estate’s assets. Without this information, no determination can be made regarding how to distribute the estate and the probate process would stall.

During the stressful time surrounding the death of a loved one, friend, or business associate, it is common to lack the focus necessary to deal with probate proceedings. Under stress, beneficiaries and heirs may sign documentation without the proper legal review, which can cause them to waive certain rights. The right to an inventory and accounting of estate assets is one of the rights that is sometimes waived unknowingly.
Even when a personal representative succeeds in getting an heir or beneficiary to sign a waiver that forfeits their right to an inventory and accounting, it is important to know that the waiver can be renounced afterward and an inventory and accounting can be demanded. Once you have waived this right, it is important to retain an Atlanta Probate Lawyer to assist you in acquiring an inventory and accounting that is true, accurate, and complete.

To renounce this type of waiver, an experienced Georgia probate attorney can assist in filing a petition for inventory and accounting that forces the personal representative to release this information. Another way that heirs and beneficiaries are left out during the probate process is through the instructions given in the will. Sometimes wills state that the executor is not required to give an inventory and accounting to heirs and beneficiaries. While this may be included in some wills as a result of undue influence over the testator by a third party, heirs, and beneficiaries do have rights under Georgia law to protect against this type of self-dealing. Again, a petition for inventory and accounting can be filed that will give the heirs and beneficiaries access to the asset information.
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