Georgia probate law allows for any individual, not just beneficiaries and heirs, to legally challenge a will that has been filed for probate. When successful, this type of petition deems invalid all of the provisions of a will, or sometimes just specific sections of a will. The person challenging the will is required to provide evidence that the will is invalid. There are many legal reasons for challenging a will under Georgia law. Five commonly accepted objections that frequently are used to contest a will are as follows:
1) The will presented is not the most up to date will.
2) The deceased was not of sound mind when the will was written.
3) The will was written under a fraudulent misrepresentation, mistake of fact, or other false pretense, which affected the way the will was written.
4) The will was written with undue influence from a third party.
5) The will was not executed properly, including not being witnessed or notarized correctly.
It is not enough for an individual to object to a will because they feel that the deceased has not treated them fairly in the will. Proof that the will is invalid must be provided and all claims will be investigated thoroughly by the court. As a result, this type of petition can cost unnecessary time and money and completely stalls the Georgia probate process. There are several things that can be done when a will is written that will discourage will contests. Using witnesses who can later provide logical testimony in front of a court and securing affidavits from credible individuals that can be used later to confirm the true intentions of the deceased are two of these strategies.
In my Atlanta Estate Litigation law practice, I have represented many clients in Georgia will contest lawsuits. Most recently I have seen an increase in cases that arise from the assertion of undue influence. Unfortunately, many people fall victim to third parties who have less than honorable intentions and wills written under this type of coercion or duress can cause havoc after the death of a loved one. When undue influence or any other cause for objection is suspected, the assistance of an experienced Atlanta Probate attorney is critical for the equitable resolution of a will contest. A qualified attorney can ensure that the genuine desires of the deceased are honored and defended.
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