Regardless of whether you come from a quarrelsome family whose members often argue with each other, you should make doubly sure your lawyer drafts as ironclad a will as possible. Simply listing all of your assets and noting why some people won’t be inheriting from you may not always stop those who tend to challenge everything in life.
The following list notes some of the various arguments unhappy people often raise when they think they’ve been wrongly disinherited. You should keep these in mind as you and your lawyer prepare your will.
Common Arguments Survivors Often Use to Challenge Wills
- Testamentary Capacity. This is often used by those who claim you were too incapacitated to create a will. They’ll often say you had dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or a profound mental illness of some sort;
- Someone May Claim All or Part of Your Will Fails to Comply with Georgia Law;
- Your Signature Will Be Called a Forgery (Or Some Other Type of Fraud Will Be Alleged);
- Someone Claiming to Be Your Lawful Spouse May Appear. Georgia law is different than that of most other states because it does not assure spouses left unmentioned in wills that can receive any material bequests from a deceased spouse under a will. Therefore, this argument is likely to fail. However, a different result may occur if you died without a will (intestate);
- A Minor or Adult Child Not Mentioned in the Will May Appear. While such individuals can petition the court, wanting to prove that they are your biological children, Georgia law does not require you to leave anything to your children. However, a knowledgeable Peachtree estate planning attorney will usually tell you to note why you’ve chosen to leave one or more of your children out of your will – in an effort to simply matters for everyone else involved;
- All of the Proper Will Drafting Requirements Have Not Been Met. It’s not unusual for someone to question your signature, the signing date or the actual existence of one or both of your signing witnesses (or their eligibility to serve as witnesses);
- Undue Influence. Quarrelling siblings and other family members often allege that the testator was coerced into creating a will leaving some family members out or leaving too much property to one person at the expense of another;
- A “New Will” or Updated Codicil/Addition to Your Will Appears. It’s sadly rather common for unhappy relatives to destroy wills they find or produce questionable codicils (updates) to wills being probated.
While this list is not intended to be exhaustive, it should provide you with a general idea of the many ways people will try to convince a court that they know better than you, the deceased, as to what you “really” wanted to do with your possessions or money. As you can see, it’s critical to obtain the help of a knowledgeable Georgia estate planning attorney to help you when either first drafting your will -- or later updating it over the years as changes in your personal life and assets dictate.