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Probate litigation in Atlanta, Ga.
Probate litigation in Atlanta, Ga. can include a wide variety of issues from challenging a will to challenging for power of attorney.
The term probate refers to “proving” a will, or proving who will inherit if there is no will. It is the process whereby the property of the decedent is legally transferred to an heir.
Jointly owned property, retirement accounts or annuities do not have to go through the probate process, and the presence of a legally binding will does not mean that an estate can avoid going through probate or probate litigation Atlanta, Ga.
It does, however, significantly shorten the process. If there is no will, a court will find first for the spouse and then the children of the decedent. If there is a will but an executor is not named, the beneficiaries of the will can agree on an executor or have the court appoint one.
The executor then has many decisions to make, all of which can be made easier with the help of a probate litigation attorney.
The executor can choose to file common or solemn form probate. Both forms involve submitting the will to the court where a judge will find if the will is valid. This filing has different requirements and details depending on the state. No matter what state the petition for probate is filed, it must be in the county where the decedent was living.
Both forms have their advantages. Common form is a shorter process, but it doesn’t have the inherit protection of the solemn form of probate litigation.
Solemn form may take longer, but included in the filing is a deadline whereby anyone who may challenge the will must file by that time in order to bring the will to probate litigation. With the common form, potential challengers have years to challenge the will. In Georgia, for instance, that time is four years.
With solemn form, a notice must be sent to all the decedent’s heirs. These are not necessarily the people mentioned in the will if there was one. They are those that are related to the decedent who might possibly inherit as well as those mentioned as beneficiaries in the will. Common form does not require this notification, although beneficiaries can request a copy of the will from the executor.
Besides a will, families can consider living trusts or jointly owned property to shorten the probate process. In living trusts, the owner of the estate places their property into a trust, naming themselves as trustee and also naming a successor trustee who would take control of the trust in the event of their death.
Power of attorney is another area that may be challenged through probate litigation, which is also why you need aggressive probate litigation in Atlanta, Ga. Power of attorney is neither irrevocable nor all-powerful, but it can be difficult to change.
Take the case of the L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt. She was named #15 on Forbes list of billionaires who estimated her net worth around $25 billion. Bettencourt suffers from both dementia and Alzheimer’s, which is what spurred her daughter to file for power of attorney over her mother.
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She felt that her mother was being taken advantage of by a photographer who had charmed and flattered Ms. Bettencourt into shelling out over $1 billion over the course of their friendship. She had also changed her will to make him sole beneficiary and named him as beneficiary on her life insurance policy.
At first, the suit was settled when Ms. Bettencourt’s attorney agreed to oversee Ms. Bettencourt’s care. The photographer agreed to give up the life insurance. Ms. Bettencourt agreed to re-write her will and the attorney was granted power of attorney over Ms. Bettencourt’s affairs.
Call Michael C. Daniel @ 404-418-1150 for probate litigation in Atlanta, Ga.
A few months ago, Ms. Bettencourt’s daughter again filed for power of attorney when it was found out that her mother invested almost $200 million euro in a client of her attorney’s. The daughter has since been granted power of attorney over her mother’s affairs as this investment by her mother seems to be a classic case of the attorney having undue influence and not acting in the best interests of Ms. Bettencourt.
Probate litigation often involves a family at odds. At the very least, it involves bringing suit against a formerly trusted individual. A good probate litigation attorney in Atlanta, Ga. is one who will help his client set the emotional entanglement aside and make the best business decision possible.