Michael C. Daniel – Probate Litigation Attorney
Many people think of probate litigation as a Will contest. However, probate litigation is more. Probate litigation consists of legal disputes about any issues related to aging, disability and death. It involves court battles over those still living, such as guardianships and conservatorships, as well as legal fights over powers of attorney, patient advocate designations, Living Wills and of course, Will and Trust contests.
Why do you need a litigator rather than an Estate attorney? Estate attorneys are very skilled in drafting and preparing legal documents, and setting up Wills and Estates. However, in most cases, Estate attorneys do not participate in the litigation process. Probate litigation is a very specialized process requiring expert knowledge of evidentiary rules and the Georgia Civil Practice Act. Additionally, probate litigation requires an attorney skilled in the art of advocacy.
At Prior, Daniel and Wiltshire, the firm provides expertise in Estate Planning and Elder law, as well as probate litigation. Michael Daniel has successfully helped clients in probate disputes for more than 30 years. Michael possesses extensive knowledge and expertise in areas which frequently arise in probate litigation, including business valuation, auditing, and corporate structures.
Mr. Daniel has litigated multiple complex probate matters throughout Northeast Georgia, including disputes involving multi-million dollar estates. If you and your family face a dispute over a probate matter, you need to have skilled legal representation from an experienced attorney to understand how best to safeguard assets, protect the estate and honor the final wishes of your loved one.
The Types of Probate Litigation
There are several grounds for contesting an individual’s Will including:
- Mistake in Execution
– If any of the provisions in the Georgia statutes are not met, then the documents are not a valid under Georgia law.
- Undue Influence
– An undue influence claim challenges whether the person making the Will did so freely and without being coerced by a person who was in a position of trust and control.
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity
– A lack of capacity claim is asserted based upon the belief that at the time the Will was executed, the person making the Will did not have the requisite mental ability to understand:
- The amount and nature of his property;
- The family members and loved ones who would ordinarily receive such property; and
- How the Will disposes of such property.
In addition to Will contests, probate litigation can involve:
- Will Construction – Sometimes Wills are vague, beneficiaries have died or disappeared, or the document does not properly dispose of the entire estate. In these instances, the assistance of the court is sought to determine how a decedent’s estate should be distributed.
- Determination of Heirs – Sometimes a decedent leaves no will and had little contact with his family. The heirs need to be determined by the court. Sometimes, the decedent has formerly unacknowledged children who wish to prove paternity/maternity and make a claim in the estate.
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty – A person appointed by the court to administer a decedent’s estate has duties and responsibilities with which they are charged. Failure to properly administer an estate, either by overt act or by omission, can be actionable. Sometimes the remedy sought is removal of the fiduciary. When funds have been wasted or mismanaged or excessive fees have been taken, the remedy can be a surcharge action.
- Removal of Fiduciary – A fiduciary may be removed by the court for cause.
- Accounting – Beneficiaries have the right to an accounting. If one has not been provided, then a beneficiary may seek the court’s assistance to compel the fiduciary to account for the estate assets. If an accounting has been provided and is objectionable for any reason, then the beneficiary may object to the accounting.
Mr. Daniel, Brittany Drew (Paralegal), and Daniel Woodrum
Daniel is an Associate with Prior, Daniel & Wiltshire. Daniel is a native of the town of Millen, Georgia. Daniel graduated from Bulloch Academy in Statesboro, Georgia, before attending college at the University of Georgia. At the University of Georgia, Daniel studied marketing in the Terry College of Business and received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with honors. After graduating from college, Daniel attended the University Of Georgia School Of Law and earned a Juris Doctorate.
Daniel is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and is admitted to practice in all courts of the state of Georgia. This includes the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Georgia Court of Appeals, the Superior Courts of the state of Georgia, and the State Courts of Georgia.
Brittany grew up in Henry County and began working as a legal assistant in 2002. While working as a legal assistant, she decided to make a career in the legal field and enrolled in Clayton College and State University to pursue her Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies, graduating in 2004. Later, Brittany went back to school and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Administrative Management in 2010. Brittany has worked in various areas of law including Bankruptcy, Business and Commercial Litigation, Employment law and Domestic law.
- Atlanta Probate Litigation
- Athens Probate Litigation
- Greensboro Probate Litigation
Interviews with Michael Daniel
Read More Testimonials
"I engaged Michael Daniel as retained counsel because of his expertise in business and employment matters. He has saved us thousands of dollars in potential liability on several matters he has handled, and his employment counseling will save money in the future. There is no question his representation provides value to my company."
— Gary Avants – Avants Management Group, Inc. (Zaxby’s Licensee)
"Michael Daniel serves as our general and litigation counsel. Michael provides expertise in a myriad of legal areas which we find very beneficial in the operation of our company. In addition to his legal skills, I value his responsiveness. When we have issues or questions, his response time is excellent. Michael and his Firm provide a tremendous value to our company." Mark S. Brickhouse, Executive Director ActivHealthCare, Inc.