Even the most carefully crafted estate plan can be challenged after the death of a loved one. Heirs and beneficiaries can say that they understand the decisions a Georgia resident makes when crafting an estate plan, but after that person’s death, they might feel differently. When disputes arise regarding the will, probate litigation might be filed in order contest it.
Two of the most common reasons cited in will contests are incapacity and undue influence. An heir or beneficiary might argue that the decedent lacked the capacity to understand what he or she was signing. For example, if evidence documents that a loved one was suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia at the time the will was signed, it might be declared invalid. If it is believed that a friend or family member coerced the individual into adding provisions to the estate-planning documents that seem out of character, the court might invalidate them.
There are cases where more than one will is presented to the court. The later of the documents is most often viewed to be the most valid since most wills contain language invalidating prior ones. A will might also be challenged if it is not properly executed. Most states, including Georgia, require wills to be executed in a certain manner. If they are not, they might not be considered valid.
If you are an heir or beneficiary, and questions are raised regarding the validity of the will, you should discuss the matter with an attorney. Before filing probate litigation to contest the will, it will be necessary to gather the appropriate evidence to support your claim. If you are the executor of the estate, your attorney can advise you on how to best proceed based on the circumstances.