Contesting a will is a complex and often emotionally charged process that can arise when individuals, often family members or beneficiaries, believe that a will does not accurately reflect the intentions of the deceased.
In the state of Georgia, several reasons exist for contesting a will.
Lack of mental capacity
One common reason for will contests is the belief that the person who created the will, known as the testator, lacked the mental capacity to make sound decisions at the time of creating the will. This could be due to conditions such as dementia, mental illness or other cognitive impairments.
There must be evidence that proves the testator could not comprehend the implications of their decisions to invalidate the will.
Contestants may argue that someone unduly influenced the testator to make specific provisions in the will. This influence could involve coercion or manipulation, consequently leading to a will that does not reflect the testator’s true wishes.
Georgia law outlines specific requirements for the proper execution of a will, such as the stipulation that two witnesses must sign the will in the presence of the testator to render a will valid. Failure to follow these formalities could lead to the will’s contestation.
Contestants may claim evidence of fraud in the creation of a will. Fraud may include false statements or misrepresentations made to the testator, leading them to include provisions they would not have otherwise.
An individual may contest a will upon discovery of a newer will, or if the testator purposely destroyed the existing will with the intention of revoking it. Such cases may give cause to invalidate the previous will.
When a will excludes a family member or heir who would typically inherit under intestacy laws, that individual may contest the will. They may argue that their omission was unintentional or influenced by external factors.
Forged wills are a serious matter. If evidence suggests that someone altered or forged the testator’s signature or any part of the will, it can be grounds for contesting the will’s validity.
Creating a will with care and precision minimizes the risk that someone will have substantiated reason to contest it. This offers individuals peace of mind with having their final wishes honored.