Contact Us Today 678-344-5342


How Can I Protect My Will From Being Contested?

Posted by Joel Beck | Mar 06, 2024 | 0 Comments

At Peach State Wills & Trusts, we recognize the importance of safeguarding your will from potential disputes. Crafting a will is a significant step in managing your estate, ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you pass away. However, the prospect of a will being contested can cast a shadow over this process, raising concerns about your estate's future and your loved ones' well-being. We aim to help you go through these waters confidently, ensuring your will stands strong against potential challenges.


The Importance of a Well-Crafted Will

When using a will-based estate plan, a well-crafted will is your roadmap for the future of your estate, outlining your desires for asset distribution, guardian appointments for minor children, and any specific instructions you wish to follow. Here's why ensuring your will is robust and articulated matters:

  • Prevents Misinterpretation: A well-written will leaves little room for misunderstanding, reducing the likelihood of disputes among beneficiaries.

  • Reflects Your Wishes Accurately: A detailed will ensures all your wishes are captured precisely, from specific bequests to the broader distribution of your estate.

  • Legal Clarity: A will that adheres to Georgia's legal requirements is more likely to withstand contestation, ensuring your wishes are honored.

Strategies to Protect Your Will from Being Contested

To fortify your will against potential challenges, consider the following strategies:

  • Ensure Legal Compliance: The testator must be of sound mind, understand the nature of the legacy, and identify the beneficiaries clearly. Typically, Georgia requires the presence of two disinterested witnesses to the signing of the will, enhancing its credibility and legitimacy. Follow all procedural requirements for executing a will in Georgia, including the testator and witnesses' signatures.

  • Regular Updates: Keep a chronological record of significant life events to assess the need for will updates periodically. Schedule an annual review of your will to consider any changes in your relationships, assets, or intentions.

  • Clear Communication: Consider holding family meetings to discuss your estate plan, including the reasons behind specific decisions. 

  • Use of No-Contest Clauses: Ensure the no-contest clause is clearly written and specifies the conditions under which it applies to discourage frivolous contests effectively. Consult with an estate planning lawyer to tailor the no-contest clause to your specific situation and to comply with Georgia laws. But keep in mind that in some situations, these clauses provide some heirs no disincentive to contest the will, and therefore may be of very little value.

  • Consider a Trust: These allow you to maintain control over your assets during your lifetime, with the trust becoming irrevocable upon your death, providing a seamless transfer of assets outside of the probate process. Consider using trusts designed for specific purposes, such as special needs or charitable trusts, which can further protect parts of your estate from contests and ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Trusts are generally considered more difficult to successfully challenge, and for those persons who reasonably expect a will contest, considering a trust may be very wise.

What Makes a Will Contestable?

Understanding the grounds on which a will can be contested is vital in protecting against it. In Georgia, common reasons include:

  • Lack of Testamentary Capacity: Questioning whether the testator had the mental capacity to understand the nature and implications of the will at its creation.

  • Undue Influence: Allegations that the testator was coerced or manipulated into making decisions that do not reflect their true wishes.

  • Improper Execution: Challenges based on the will not meet the formal requirements set by Georgia law, such as needing to be properly witnessed.

Documenting Your Decisions

Documenting the process of creating your will, including your decisions and the reasons behind them, can provide valuable evidence if your will is ever contested. This could include notes on your mental state, the absence of undue influence, and your relationship with beneficiaries.


Closing Thoughts

Ultimately, there is no fail-safe way to prevent your will from being contested. But you can take practical steps to minimize that action, and to minimize the likelihood of success of a challenge, which helps ensure your wishes are followed. In some situations, using planning tools other than a will (such as a trust) would be very appropriate to help ensure your wishes are followed and to minimize the likelihood of a will contest that might take considerable time and expense to your estate.

Contact Peach State Wills & Trusts at 678-344-5342 or online to learn how to plan for your estate in Georgia today. If you have any questions about estate planning in Georgia, you can download our free guide here, no strings attached. Our team is dedicated to providing you with friendly, professional, and approachable legal services, helping you confidently secure your estate's future.

About the Author

Joel Beck

Joel Beck founded The Beck Law Firm, LLC in 2007. His firm focused on business law and estate planning needs of clients, two areas that he was drawn to based upon personal and business experiences in his life, including a ten-year career at NASD (now known as FINRA).


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today

At Peach State Wills and Trusts, a division of The Beck Law Firm, LLC, we're committed to answering your questions about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directives, uncontested probate, and business planning issues in Georgia.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.