Contesting a will in Georgia

| Dec 5, 2018 | Firm News

If you have found the terms of a will are not to your liking, is it possible to contest it for a change? There are ways to contest a will, but you are not able to do it legally if it is because you do not like what it says. When contesting a will, you are contesting the whole will and not just trying to change or invalidate one aspect of it. In the state of Georgia, there are four legal reasons to contest a will and each one of them will have their own challenges.  

  1. It was not signed properly – For a will to be legal in Georgia, it must be signed with two witnesses present. Each witness must be deemed to be competent and must be at least the age of 14. Each witness must personally witness the signing of the will and have an understanding that the document that is being signed is a will.
  2. Satisfactory mental state of the testator – The testator or testatrix, or the person who executes the will, needs to be at a certain level of competent mental ability for it to be valid. This is called testamentary capacity and it means the testator/testatrix understands what is in the will and that their property will be distributed after their death based on the provisions set forth in the will. Challenging this would require pertinent medical records and possibly even a document showing an unsatisfactory mental assessment of either the testator/testatrix around the time of the signing.
  3. Undue influence – Many people who are working on a will are very elderly or ill. Because of this, the use of force, influence or intimidation can play a role in getting a will signed. The tactics used to get someone to finalize a will who was under undue influence will need specific evidence to show that this was done.
  4. The will is fraudulent – If a beneficiary to a will had knowingly used false statements, which in turn caused a testator/testatrix to change a will, this can be construed as fraud. Any sort of manipulation that was used to change a will can be challenged on the basis of fraud.

The challenge of a will can only be made by someone who is deemed to be an interested party. Usually, this person is affected financially due to the terms of the will. If you have questions about contesting a will or about what evidence is needed to be obtained for contesting a will, you should contact an attorney who specializes in estate planning and wills.