Being charitable can lead to probate litigation by upset heirs

Many Georgia residents give to charities, non-profits and other organizations whose work they believe in during their lives. Estate planning also allows them to be just as charitable after death. However, some heirs and beneficiaries might not be happy with or understand those choices, which could lead to probate litigation.

For example, a woman from another state left $1.2 million to the government of her county to care for cats and dogs. She loved animals and wanted to provide the local animal shelter with a gift. The shelter plans to use a large portion of the money to expand its facility and purchase a van needed to transport the animals.

The Tennessee woman's family apparently supported her choice, but not all families are as understanding. In other families, heirs and beneficiaries might balk at giving such a large gift to an organization rather than distributing it to family. Allegations could be made that the deceased family member was not in his or her right mind or that someone from the organization used coercion to obtain the gift.

In some instances, either of these scenarios could be true. However, if there is a chance the allegations in the probate litigation could be true, the matter should be explored. Even if it turns out that a person of sound mind made the gift without undue influence, everyone involved will know that the decedent intended for the charitable gift to be made. Some heirs and beneficiaries might not be pleased with that result, but the wishes of the Georgia resident should be carried out in accordance with his or her last will and testament.

Source:, "Woman bequeaths $1.2 million to Carter dogs and cats", John Thompson, Dec. 27, 2016

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