Reach out to the Wilbanks Law Firm for assistance resolving a will dispute.

Why are Wills Contested?

By creating a will, someone can control how their estate will be managed after they pass away. A will can only be effective if it works as intended. As often happens in situations involving family and dividing property, relations can be tense, and people may dispute a will.

If you believe there is a reason to challenge a will or you need assistance proving the validity of a will, give us a call. We can help you understand your situation and the possible solutions available.

Types of Georgia Will Disputes

Several scenarios can lead to a contested will. The level of dispute will vary.
Examples of disputes include:

  • Undue Influence
  • Lack of Testamentary Capacity
  • Breach of Fiduciary Duty
  • Fraud
  • Improperly Executed Wills
  • Existence of a New Will

Under Georgia law, testators (the people creating their wills) must follow formal guidelines. They must understand what they’re asking for without impairment and be given the details of their will before they sign it. There can’t be any influence from someone seeking to benefit unfairly from the will.

Wills must be signed in the presence of two witnesses and ideally a notary public who watch the testator sign the will. After a will is signed, it must be properly executed. Any properly created wills will invalidate previous versions.

But these are just some examples of why a will could be challenged.

Handling Will Disputes in GA

There is a deadline to challenge a will after it’s been filed with the probate court. The timing of a challenge will depend on how an estate is probated: common or solemn form.

Solemn Form Probate

If an executor chooses solemn form probated, all beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors are served notice of the probate process. Once an heir is alerted of the probate status, they will have thirty days to file a challenge, called a caveat.

What Happens After a Caveat is Filed?

The estate will be put on hold if a caveat is filed during probate. All interested parties can gather evidence during the discovery phase. This evidence can be used to prove a will’s validity. Either side can file pretrial motions before the matter goes to court.

A party could request a motion to suppress certain evidence or a summary judgment on the estate. Having the right evidence to prove your claim, whether for an invalid will or defending a will, can affect your chances. We are ready to discuss your needs and help you with your disputed will.

Disputed Will FAQs

How Long Does Probate Take if a Will is Disputed?

A caveat can delay the probate process by six months or more. All interested parties can gather evidence and build their case for or against the will. After the discovery phase, the court can schedule a hearing to hear both sides. Not every challenge will go to a hearing or trial, but being prepared for that possibility is critical.

Who Can Challenge a Will in Georgia?

Anyone with an “interest” in an estate can challenge a will once it enters probate. People named in the will or people who may inherit property if the will is ruled invalid can challenge a will. Heirs, creditors, or beneficiaries can argue that a will is invalid.

What Happens if a Will is Voided?

Under Georgia law, if a judge rules that a will is invalid, it will be voided. Voided testamentary gifts of real estate or property will become part of the “residuum” of the estate. Property in this residuum would be distributed amongst other beneficiaries or heirs named in the will if some but not all of the will was voided.

Otherwise, the property will be handled as if the decedent died without a will or intestate.

What Happens if You Lose a Challenge Against a Will?

If you have a valid reason to contest a will, discuss it with a probate attorney to establish your case before you file any paperwork. Winning a challenge means you get the property you claimed. However, losing could mean you are disinherited from any property you were entitled to.

Is it Worth Contesting a Will?

Whether or not you should contest a will is a question you may need to answer with help from a probate attorney before you file any objection. You must weigh the reality of how much property you believed you should receive, how easily you can prove that the will is invalid, and if it’s worth fighting the decedent’s family and beneficiaries. You may need to cut your losses if the negatives outweigh the positives.

How Does a Probate Attorney Help My Case?

Whether you think a will is invalid or need to defend its stance, or need to make sure your interests are protected in an intestate estate, you should consider working with an experienced Georgia probate attorney.

They can investigate the will’s execution, and anyone involved in administrating the estate and help you calculate the value of the property being distributed in the will. Probate can be a complicated process, and you should not have to deal with the loss of a loved one while also dealing with a challenge to their will alone.

Dealing with a Disputed Estate? Call Us Today

A probate dispute is not something you should deal with on your own. The team at the Wilbanks Law Firm recognizes how stressful and draining probate can be. We’ve helped many clients in Northeast Georgia find closure when a will has been challenged. Whether you need to prove a will is invalid or defend it against challenges, we can help.

Attorney and founder Dylan Wilbanks has been a civil litigator for over 20 years. He has helped many clients work through their probate needs. He knows that an invalid will can cause family strife, and he’s ready to help you work through that process in the best way possible.

Call (706) 510-0000 or use our online form to schedule your free evaluation.