Most people in Georgia know of the importance of estate planning. While they create wills, they may overlook the importance of the creation process. For example, having neutral professionals draft estate planning documents can help prevent confusion and distrust. Unfortunately, an out-of-state woman has made accusations about the validity of her father’s will.
The man passed away in Dec. 2015. The woman is questioning a will that her father signed just months before his death; as a result of the will, the bulk of the man’s $1.2 million estate would go to a couple described as friends of the man. His children were each left $10,000 with the stipulation that they would not receive anything if they contested the will.
However, the man’s daughter argues that one of the people who would ultimately benefit from the will helped him write it and wrongfully presented herself as an attorney. The daughter claims that undue influence led to the terms and that her father’s mental and physical condition were questionable — the two executors named in the will are allegedly proof of this. He named his brother and his brother’s ex-wife as executors, with the woman who helped create the document as a back-up. The daughter claims that were her father making decisions on his own and/or in the right frame of mind, he would have realized that his brother, who lives in a nursing home, was not capable of serving as executor.
The woman who helped him create the will and is named as beneficiary denies that she ever represented herself as an attorney. A representative for her claims that it is legal for a person in Massachusetts who is not an attorney to help create a will. She also expressed her concern that the matter was being reported in the media.
Wills do not always name the expected people — such as children of the deceased — as beneficiaries. In order to avoid accusations of a conflict of interest or undue influence, it may be necessary for those in Georgia to ask an attorney with no claims to the estate to draft the will. Having a frank conversation with family members who may have their feelings hurt as a result of a non-traditional division of assets can also help them understand the rationale behind the decision and give them peace of mind.
Source: vineyardgazette.com, “Tangled Probate Dispute Involves Dukes County Manager“, Steve Myrick and Julia Wells, Nov. 17, 2016