When A Will Is Being Contested, Put Our Skilled Litigators On Your Side
What we often refer to as a will is more formally called a “last will and testament.” It is supposed to be the final and official instructions from the decedent (the person who died) about what becomes of their estate assets. Unfortunately, there are sometimes problems with a will that lead to questions of intent or validity. In either case, a legal challenge is typically the result.
If you find yourself in a dispute over a loved one’s will, it is wise to have an experienced legal representative on your side. In northern Georgia, you can find the help you’re looking for by contacting The McGarity Group. Our skilled estate litigation attorneys can protect your interests and work toward an efficient and cost-effective resolution to your will contest or related matter.
The Most Common Reasons A Will May Be Contested
When family members or other interested parties contest a will, they usually make one or more of the following allegations about the testator (the person who created the will) or about the document itself:
- Undue influence: The testator was manipulated into changing their will or otherwise unduly influenced by someone close to them.
- Lack of capacity: In order for a will to be valid, the testator must be “of sound mind” when creating it. Plaintiffs often allege that the testator lacked mental capacity at the time they created or changed their will.
- Fraud or forgery: The testator was somehow misled into signing their will under fraudulent circumstances, or the document itself is a forgery created by someone other than the decedent.
- Improper execution: In Georgia, a will must be in writing, bearing the signature of the testator and the signatures of two competent witnesses. If these conditions were not met, it leaves the will vulnerable to challenge.
- Not the final will: A testator can change their will over time or replace it entirely. Plaintiffs may argue that the version of the will in the court’s possession is not the most recent one but rather an outdated document.
- Questions of interpretation: There are cases in which important parts of the will are written vaguely, introducing ambiguity and allowing room for interpretation. It may be necessary to seek the court’s help in clarifying what the testator most likely intended.
Like all litigation, will contests can be expensive. Legal fees are often paid by the estate, reducing the very assets in dispute. Therefore, you will first need to decide if contesting a will is worth the costs. If it is, you’ll want to work with an attorney – like those at our firm – who will seek an expedient and cost-effective resolution to the dispute.
Prevention Is More Effective Than Any Remedy
Of course, writing a better will is not possible after someone has already passed away. But if you’ve been a party to litigation, you may want to consider revisiting your own estate planning documents with the help of a knowledgeable attorney. Our work in estate litigation has given us keen insight into the problems that can lead to disputes. We use this knowledge to help our estate planning clients write wills and other documents that can withstand scrutiny and are unlikely to be challenged.
Reach Out To Discuss Your Concerns With Attorneys Who Care
Based in Buford, The McGarity Group serves clients in the greater Atlanta metro area and throughout northern Georgia. To learn how we can help you contest or defend a loved one’s will, contact us to schedule an initial consultation. You can reach out online or call 770-692-9877.