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Does a blood relative have inheritance rights that take precedence over relatives by marriage listed as beneficiaries in a will?

Lawrenceville, GA |

My father died recently. I met with the proposed executor of his estate and was allowed to read the will. I have not yet signed the "acknowledgement of service and consent to probate instanter".
My father left amounts of $5,000 to $10,000 each to various relatives of his late wife and left me nothing. First, as his only living blood relative, what are my chances of disputing the will and getting some or all of that money? Second, if I do plan to dispute the will, should I still sign the acknowledgement form?

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Attorney answers 6

Posted

If you are planning to contest the Will, I would not sign anything without first meeting with an attorney. Whether or not you contest is a whole different consideration based on the facts of your situation, which are not included in your summary. You cannot contest a Will simply because you do not like what it says. You can generally contest a Will because: 1) it does not comply with state law requirements to be a Will, (testator did not sign the Will, or there were no witnesses, etc.); 2) the testator lacked mental capacity when the Will was signed, or 3) there was undue influence exerted against the testator. You have not said anything that suggests that any of these facts were present, but that does not mean that they were not.

Will contests are complex and difficult proceedings. An attorney is a must, if you are serious about trying to proceed.

I am very sorry for your loss.

James Frederick

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Posted

When a will is properly executed in GA, it typically includes what's known as a self-proving affidavit, which indicates that the will was signed in front of two witnesses and a notary. That means challenging the authenticity would require challenging your father's state of mind at the time he made the will. In my experience, that is not nearly so easy as it sounds, most of the time.

But in short, assuming your father had his wits about him, his directions in the will would prevail.

I suggest consulting an attorney if you wish to challenge this.

If you have further questions, call me at 770-904-5115. The information and opinion rendered herein is done as a courtesy and is for general informational purposes. Nothing herein may be construed by any party as to give rise to an attorney-client relationship.

Posted

You may acknowledge the will and you can also file an objection to the will. You may also be able to seek a years support. You need to retain an attorney.

Darrell B. Reynolds,
Attorney and Counselor at Law
2385 Lawrenceville Highway, Ste D
Decatur, Ga. 30033
404-636-6616

Posted

I assume this is a Georgia estate. If you think you have a reason to contest the Will, NO, you should NOT sign the acknowledgement. By doing so, you are agreeing that the Will is valid and should be probated. You should also consult an estate litigation attorney as soon as possible.

As your father's blood relative, you do have potential rights to his estate as an heir (you may be the only heir, based on your statement that you are the only living blood relative, but please note that adoption counts the same as blood in Georgia for most purposes, so if there are any adopted relatives they could also have rights). However, if his Will is his validly executed expression of what he wanted, then the Will will eventually be admitted to probate and you will not receive anything. Whether the Will is valid depends on many factors: whether it was executed correctly, whether it was the product of undue influence by a third party on your father and not really his true wishes, whether he was mentally competent enough to make the Will at the time he signed it, etc. However, it's not easy to overturn a Will, and it is litigation.

Again, if you think you may have a case to overturn the Will, talk to a litigation attorney specializing in estate matters as soon as possible. Timing will be critical, and so will evidence.

This answer is not intended to provide you with specific legal advice regarding your situation, or to create any attorney-client relationship. The intent is only to provide general information. You should be aware that you cannot rely on this answer to provide you with any protection against tax penalties. You should always consult your own attorney in order to obtain legal advice.

Posted

First of all, unless you have grounds to contest he will (and being left out is NOT grounds), you may be wasting money for no reason. Having said that, spend a small amount to meet with a lawyer and be sure if you have no grounds, or if you do (you'd have to show something like a lack of mental capacity, undue influence, etc.). Be aware that will contests are expensive.

As for the acknowledgment, if you sign you have likely prevented yourself from any challenge.

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James P. Frederick

James P. Frederick

Posted

Very good advice.

Posted

If you sign the acknowledgment, then you are assenting to the Will being probated. This will mean that you lose your right to contest the Will. However, if the Will was properly executed, then your only challenge would be to claim that your father lacked the mental capacity to make a Will. You should understand that this mental capacity is determined WHEN he actually executed the Will and not based upon other times. There also may be a question of Undue Influence. I would suggest talking to an estate attorney prior to signing anything.