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
The Georgia probate attorneys at The Libby Law Firm are interested in helping you with any Georgia probate or estate matters. We can assist you in a wide range of matters from simple estate planning to multi-million dollar Georgia will contests, Georgia probate disputes, or Georgia estate litigation. Please contact us at (404) 467-8611. You may also send us a message through our confidential Website Form.
Should you reside in another state, The Libby Law Firm also serves as local counsel in Georgia. We are equipped with state of the art technology, which helps us assist you and your further your case. As your local Georgia counsel, we will endeavor to keep you and your case from being disadvantaged due to your out of state location.