When it comes to the administration of your will in Marietta, you likely assume that the hard work and planning you put in with your lawyer will ensure everything goes off without a hitch. The good news is that this is precisely what happens the majority of the time. Wills and trust administration is a big job, and the sole purpose of creating a will is to make your wishes as clear as possible to simplify the process.
When a will is “contested” that means that it is being challenged for some reason. Fortunately, heirs can’t simply overturn your will because they’re not happy with it. Instead, they have to show a legal reason that the will itself is invalid. If it is found to be invalid, then the administration process changes dramatically for all involved.
Who Can Contest a Will in Georgia
As mentioned above, a will can’t just be contested because someone doesn’t think you left him or her enough or to create more drama at an already difficult time. Instead, it must be shown that there is a valid reason for contesting. Those who can contest a will during the administration process include:
- Someone named in the will who feels he or should have inherited differently
- Someone not named in the will who thinks he or she should have been
One way to determine if a person has standing to contest the will is to determine if he or she would have inherited if you had died without one and your estate had gone into probate.
Reasons for a Georgia Will Contest
Simply being unhappy with your share isn’t enough for a court to consider a request to contest a will. Instead, specific problems must be shown. For example:
- The testator was unduly influenced
- The testator did not have the mental capacity to make binding decisions
- There was a mistake in the will
- The will constitutes fraud or was created fraudulently
If any of these things are found to be true, then all or part of the will can be voided. If the entire will is considered invalid, then its administration is governed by Georgia’s intestate laws. If only part of the will is questionable, then that portion of the estate can be added to the residuary estate and dispersed as the will otherwise states.
No Contest Clauses
Many Marietta estate planning clients work to improve the desired outcome of their wills by including “no contest” clauses. These typically state that anyone attempting to contest your will is simply disinherited. That may be enough of an incentive to stop someone from interfering with your wishes out of their own sense of greed or mischief. Working with a local Marietta wills and trusts lawyer will ensure that you are following the applicable laws for our state. Call us at 770-425-6060 and let us help you analyze and evaluate your situation.
Of course it makes sense that a Marietta wills and estates lawyer would tell you to create a will, right? Our job is to help people plan for what will happen to their estates once they’re gone. But, having been involved in estate planning in Marietta for such a long time, it’s clear that message of proper planning is something more people still need to hear.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of four brief reasons that explain why you need a will…and why it must be created sooner, rather than later. There are certainly many other aspects to consider, but these can have a great impact on the future of your estate:
Reason You Need a Will #1: It Saves Money
There are so many financial issues that come into play once an individual has passed away, and it really does take a trained lawyer to understand them and come up with a solid game plan. An estate planning attorney is able to help you take advantage of tax benefits that you might not have otherwise known were available, as well as help you save an incredible amount of money that can be passed on to your heirs.
Reason You Need a Will #2: It Protects Your Family
Not all adults have minor children, but those who do should have a will in place that names who they want to be their child(ren)’s legal guardian in case of death or incapacitation. If you and your wills lawyer in Marietta have not formally and legally laid out this information, then it will be up to the courts to determine who will raise your children in your absence. Keeping your will updated also protects other family members, as you can determine what goes to whom, rather than having family members cause fights and drama over your estate.
Reason You Need a Will #3: It Keeps Real Estate Intact
Do you own a house or other property? If so, and you pass away without a will, the courts will likely pass co-ownership of that property to your heirs. What happens when some of your heirs want to keep the property and others want to sell it? What if you specifically want a certain heir to inherit your property? What if you don’t want your heirs inheriting the property and would rather leave it to someone outside the family instead? Without a will, the answers to all of these questions will be completely out of your control.
Reason You Need a Will #4: You Might Not Be Allowed to Do It Later
One of the requirements of a valid will is that the person creating it is of “sound body and mind.” If you become victim of an illness or injury that brings your ability to make sound judgments into question, you may be unable to put together a legally binding will later on. Anyone who does not agree with your decisions can simply contest the will, saying that you were not competent to make those choices; and the whole thing could end up in court.
Of course, there are many, many other reasons to meet with a Marietta lawyer and have an estate plan designed that addresses your unique legal and financial needs. We’re happy to help you get started with the process, so if you have further questions about wills here in Marietta or you’d like to move forward protecting the people and things you love, please give our office a call at 770.425.6060 and ask to schedule a free Georgia Family Treasures Planning Session with the mention of this article ($600 value).