LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Duncan Hamilton Adams | Nov 2, 2010

GEORGIA PROBATE PROCEEDINGS REQUIRE PROTECTING AGAINST UNDUE INFLUENCE CLAIMS

It is common for elderly or infirm family members or friends to be cared for by one person, or a small group of people, especially at the end of their life. This can occur because the caregivers live closer to the sick or elderly person, or because there is a closer personal relationship between the parties involved. Sometimes it happens because those caring for the individual are natural caregivers who are the best suited for this role. In these situations, the deceased typically will have made some effort to compensate those who helped them for their kindness and time. This can take the form of gifts given before death, or may be reflected in the will of the deceased. In some instances a** will contest may ensue if the will reflects an unequal division of assets favoring the caretaker(s) and the other beneficiaries/heirs feel that the deceased was coerced into making special concessions.**

As an** Atlanta, Georgia Probate Lawyer, I have handled an increasing number of these types of will contests. These claims usually state that undue influence was exerted on the individual before death, causing some to question the disposition of estate assets. The cause for suspicion might be more understandable where the suspected party is a homecare professional, neighbor, or friend who had little contact with the other beneficiaries or heirs. But in the case of an**** Atlanta, Georgia will contest lawsuit, based on**** undue influence, involving a family member who is suspected of coercing the decedent, it is easier to see how both sides have valid arguments. The caregiver often feels that the will is providing fair compensation for the care provided, but the beneficiaries and/or heirs feel that they deserve to be given an equal amount of the assets, despite how little they participated in the care of the decedent. Often, beneficiaries and heirs simply want an equitable division of assets to serve as a demonstration of how much they were loved by the deceased.**

So, what can unsuspecting, good intentioned Georgia Caregivers do to protect themselves from** Georgia Will Contests and/or**** Wills, Trusts, and Estate Litigation arising from suspicion of undue influence? The first step is to understand what the court looks for in these cases. In order for undue influence to be confirmed, the person disputing the will must prove that a confidential relationship existed between the decedent and the person thought to have exercised undue influence. It must also be established that the person in question dictated the terms of the will and derived undeserved benefit as a result. Finally, those filing claim must also show that the accused person dominated the decedent. This final point is the reason why so many cases of undue influence involve establishing the diminished mental or physical capacity of the decedent before death. Communication is the key in these cases so that all potential beneficiaries understand the relationship between the testator and the caregiver(s), as well as any decisions made regarding the disposition of assets. Ultimately, a testator can prevent will contests by explaining to**** beneficiaries and heirs any unusual distribution of assets as well as explaining these same matters to the nominated executor or administrator.**

Additional resources provided by the author

The following links below are to websites where there is information published about Wills, Trusts, and Estates as well as Will Contests and factors that are a part of these claims, such as "Undue Influence". Duncan H. Adams, Esq. THE ADAMS LAW OFFICES, LLC

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