A will is meant to represent the final wishes of the testator with regard to the distribution of their property after their death. If executed properly, a will is legally binding, and it is not easy to convince a Georgia probate court to disregard the instructions provided by the document.
That said, there are times when a will can – and should – be challenged in court. For instance, a will can be found invalid due to:
- Incapacity of the testator at the time the will was written
- Fraud or undue influence over the testator
- Insufficient number of witnesses, or inappropriate witnesses
- Unclear provisions in the will
- A later will
In some cases, the probate court itself will find problems that invalidate a will, but most often a court will approve a will so long as it appears to meet all the formal requirements. This can be very frustrating for friends or families of the deceased who suspect the will does not actually represent the last wishes of the testator.
It is possible to challenge a will in court, but the process has some strict requirements. First, there are requirements about who can file suit to contest a will.
The only people who have legal standing to contest a will are those who are named in the will or those who would inherit from the deceased if the will were declared invalid. This second category refers to the people who would inherit under Georgia’s law of intestate succession, which controls the distribution of a deceased person’s estate in the absence of a will. Specifically, this means family members of the deceased.
Once you have established that you have legal standing to contest a will, you must show that the will is invalid. This is often technically and emotionally difficult. If you are considering contesting a will, an experienced attorney can advise you about your options.