Probate Litigation Attorney Atlanta
What is probate litigation?
Probate or estate litigation is simply “contesting a will.” When there is a large estate, several real estate properties, bank accounts and gifts, it’s not uncommon for beneficiaries to become involved in probate litigation. It’s important for people to review their estate plans periodically in order to keep them current. When they fail to do so, the will doesn’t always reflect family relationships which can change over time. It’s especially important to update the will whenever there are changes such as a birth, death, marriage, divorce, changes in assets, or changes in tax laws.
While it’s human nature to procrastinate, when someone puts off writing a will, it can be disastrous for the family members. A will should always be prepared when a person is in good health and in the position to make decisions regarding its provisions. A hastily-contrived or “death-bed” will often fails to accurately carry out the wishes of the maker, or it can be found invalid or hotly contested in court by the beneficiaries. Some of the most common reasons for probate litigation include:
- Beneficiaries are making claims of undue influence
- Disputes about the personal representative
- Beneficiaries arguing over the distribution of assets
- One of the beneficiaries receives the lion’s share of the assets
- The beneficiaries aren’t given a full accounting of the property
- The details about the creditors have not been disclosed
Need an attorney for a probate litigation case in Atlanta?
Probate litigation concerns actions brought to court against a deceased person’s estate. Such actions are often brought on by beneficiaries who either disagree with the terms set forth in the will, or they have disagreements with how the estate is being managed. Whether you are a beneficiary or a personal representative, we urge you to contact Atlanta probate litigation attorney Dana Ashford for aggressive legal representation. Please call us today at (678) 591-9575 to schedule a consultation.
If someone you love passes away and you discover to your surprise that you’ve been left out of the will, you may be able to contest it based on any one of several valid issues. Whether you feel it was an honest oversight or you feel that someone used undue pressure against your loved one to change their will before they passed away, meeting with litigation attorney Dana Ashford is a good first step. She can review the will and determine how to go about contesting it in court. There are several reasons why probate litigation attorneys might dispute these documents, including improper execution or coercion of the deceased. These attorneys can also represent you as an heir of someone who has passed away without a will, which unfortunately often leads to squabbles between relatives. If you and other potential heirs can’t agree, things could turn into a lengthy battle in probate court, giving rise to animosity and damaged relationships. The goal of probate litigation is to quickly resolve the situation with minimal fuss. Some of the most common reasons to contest someone’s will include:
Documents That Weren’t Prepared Properly
If the will wasn’t prepared in accordance with Georgia state inheritance laws, it may be invalid. One common mistake is not having it properly witnessed and signed by two witnesses who not only saw the writer sign, but also saw each other sign. In other words, both the individual and his or her two witnesses should be in the same room at the same time when signing. In this case, Dana Ashford may be able to resolve the issue relatively quickly.
The Decedent Didn’t Have Testamentary Capacity
“Testamentary capacity” is simply the ability of the person writing the will to rightly understand what their estate and any assets are worth and truly understand the ramifications of how they are disposing of it. Litigation attorneys may contest the document on a variety of grounds, including whether or not the deceased was capable of realizing the unintended results of excluding specific individuals from the estate. Because each person has their own opinion about whether another person should have inherited, contesting the will on these grounds can be a complex process.
The Decedent Was Under Extreme Duress
Atlanta litigation attorney Dana Ashford has seen many situations where a frail or ailing individual has been pressured to alter their will by an unscrupulous relative or friend. In some cases, the pressure is severe enough to be considered undue influence, particularly when the document goes against the individual’s stated wishes. There is a clear burden to prove that the deceased was pressured before they died in a manner that went beyond nagging. In court, you’ll generally need to provide evidence and reliable testimony that the accused person used extreme measures such as isolating the individual, stealing an earlier version of the will, physical abuse or having the document prepared by their own attorney rather than the decedent’s lawyer.
The Will Was The Result Of Fraud
Do you believe your loved one was tricked into signing a will that he didn’t understand? Are you afraid that he might have signed a will not realizing what he were signing? If so, the courts shouldn’t accept the document because it is fraudulent. Manipulative relatives sometimes coerce elderly individuals who are easily confused in order to make sure they aren’t left out of the will or to increase their share of the estate. In other situations, an entirely new will may be prepared without the elderly individual’s knowledge or understanding and given to the individual, who is told that it is a power of attorney, advance directive or some other legal document. A forged signature is another way that a dishonest heir can try to inherit, although this does require two others to be complicit as witnesses. If your loved one signed a will believing it was something else entirely or you believe her signature was forged, litigation attorneys Dana Ashford can get to the heart of the matter for you.
Consult With Atlanta Probate Litigation Attorney Dana Ashford
If you’ve been wrongly excluded from the last will and testament of someone you believe intended to leave you an inheritance, contact our office today for a free consultation. Located in Atlanta, attorney Dana Ashford can determine the nature of your claim and guide you through the court proceedings, protecting your rights as an heir.
Has your adult child been recently diagnosed with a mental disorder or schizophrenia? We can help you through this difficult time.
Breach Of Fiduciary Duty
We understand how frustrating this process can be on families. We have worked with numerous families to help resolve estate conflict, we seek to provide quick and affordable representation. Click to learn more about how we handle the unique needs involved with Petitions for entitlement to the estate.