Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
“Can a will be contested?”
This is a question we see a lot at our office. To answer the can a will be contested question, we’re going to discuss 7 common scenarios where a will is challenged.
If you find one or more of these situations apply in your case, a will contest may be a good idea.
These are not all of the possible reasons to contest a will, but these are the most common ones.
At our firm, we help families who have lost a loved one navigate the complex and confusing legal process so they can make sure the estate is handled properly and their loved one’s memory is honored. We’ve done a lot of work with will contests, and have helped hundreds of families through these difficult situations.
Sometimes when a will is revealed, someone might feel shocked and hurt by what it says. Usually, that shock and hurt are not enough to support a legal challenge to a will. So, when can a will be contested?
To start with, if one or more of these seven situations are in your case, a will contest may make sense:
1. You feel that the will is a fake or a fraudulent and you have some kind of proof. For example, you look at the signature page and the signature on the will looks nothing like the deceased’s signature.
2. The wishes expressed in the will are nothing like the wishes that your loved one openly discussed with family or friends. Perhaps the will was changed shortly before death or even on their deathbed, and the desires expressed in the new will are radically different from what was expressed in prior wills.
3. There was a person who was around your loved one all the time and was exerting inappropriate influence. When you read the will, it appears that the will is really that person’s wishes, not the wishes of your deceased loved one. This type of case can be even stronger if the person also helped your loved one create the will. In addition, if the person inheriting under the will is not a close relative or someone else you would expect to inherit then it is cause for concern.
4. When you look at the will, it is missing signatures. In Georgia, a will must be signed by the person making the will as well as two witnesses. So, if the will is missing any of those signatures, it is worth looking into contesting the will.
5. You believe your loved one made a will that is dated after the one that has been filed with the probate court. If you believe the newer will can be located, then that can be a viable reason to object and have the older will declared invalid.
6. You believe your deceased loved one destroyed their will, but a copy of that will has been filed with the probate court. Just because someone made a will once does not mean they are forced to keep it forever. If there is evidence that the deceased destroyed the will prior to death, it can help invalidate the copy.
7. You believe your loved one lacked the capacity to sign the will. This is one of the hardest ways to overturn a will because Georgia law is very flexible with whether someone has the mental ability to sign a will. In fact, if mental capacity can be found for just a few minutes while the will was signed, then that can be enough to uphold the will. That said, if evidence can be found showing that the deceased did not have mental capacity at the time the will was signed, then the will can be invalidated.
Hopefully, reviewing these seven common scenarios has helped you with the can a will be contested question. If you found that one or more applies in your situation, you may want to look further into filing an objection.
Each of these seven situations are different and they are all complicated. That’s why it’s important to partner with a probate attorney to make sure will contests are handled correctly.
Everything discussed in this article is for general information and is not legal advice. If you are in a situation where you believe you need to contest a will, I recommend you reach out to our office at (770) 920-6030 to set up a consultation.
If you’re not quite ready for a consultation, be sure to download our Georgia Probate Handbook so you know how the estate is supposed to be handled. If you would like to learn more about will contests, take a look at this video on the more technical considerations when contesting a will.
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