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Forgiveness May Be Available For An Untimely Caveat

January 20, 2017

Authors

Luke Lantta

Forgiveness May Be Available For An Untimely Caveat

January 20, 2017

by: Luke Lantta

It’s a new year and with it comes many resolutions. Each year, a popular resolution is to be more forgiving or to forgive someone who wronged you.  Apparently, trying to get a head start on its resolutions, on December 30, the Georgia Court of Appeals entered its opinion in In re: Estate of James Lynn Hill.  What does this have to do with forgiveness?  Remember that time we said that “in Georgia, the time to file a caveat may be short and unforgiving?”  Well, some forgiveness may be available.

An executrix filed a petition to probate a will.  Notice was sent to an heir informing him of the deadline to object.  The heir filed a caveat, but did so over a month late.  Under Read More

Evidence Of Undue Influence Came Too Late

September 24, 2015

Authors

Luke Lantta

Evidence Of Undue Influence Came Too Late

September 24, 2015

by: Luke Lantta

Of the many reasons estate litigation can get so expansive (and expensive), family relationships often take a central role.  In addition to the depth and complexity of relationships among family members, the sheer number of relationships to investigate and pin down when a claim is raised can make estate litigation particularly toilsome.  For an undue influence case, for example, you may want to track down and interview every person who interacted with the testator within a certain period of time before and after the will was executed.  At least an undue influence case puts a premium on evidence close to the execution of the will.  For some disputes, the relevant time period may stretch decades.

In Debter v. Stephens, the Georgia Supreme Court highlighted the danger of not running all the evidence to ground early on.

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Virtual Adoption Requires Intestacy

July 15, 2015

Authors

Luke Lantta

Virtual Adoption Requires Intestacy

July 15, 2015

by: Luke Lantta

For the second time this year, the Georgia Supreme Court has addressed the equitable doctrine of virtual adoption.  Here’s how we previously described the doctrine:

In a virtual adoption, the ‘adopting parent’ orally agrees to adopt the child of another as his or her own without actually legally adopting the child and all parties act on the oral agreement to adopt.   Virtual adoption is not legal or statutory adoption.  It is an equitable remedy that is applied only upon the death of the ‘adopting parent’ to avoid an unfair result to the ‘adopted child’ by the application of intestacy laws.

In Johnson v. Rogers, the Georgia Supreme Court reaffirmed that this equitable doctrine can only be applied where the ‘adoptive parent’ dies Read More

In Georgia, The Time To File A Caveat May Be Short And Unforgiving

August 27, 2014

Authors

Luke Lantta

In Georgia, The Time To File A Caveat May Be Short And Unforgiving

August 27, 2014

by: Luke Lantta

A recent case decided by the Georgia Court of Appeals serves as a reminder that probate court litigation often differs procedurally from other types of litigation.  So, when faced with a will contest or other probate proceeding, it’s often best to consult with someone who specializes in that type of fiduciary litigation.

In In re: Estate of Loyd, one of the heirs of Virginia Childs Loyd, Jack, tried to object to a petition to probate the will on the grounds of undue influence.  The trial court dismissed Jack’s caveat as untimely and the appellate court agreed.

After the petition to probate the will was filed, the probate court entered an order requiring certain of the heirs, including Jack, to file any objections to

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Preparing A Will For A Blind Testator

May 22, 2014

Authors

Luke Lantta

Preparing A Will For A Blind Testator

May 22, 2014

by: Luke Lantta

People with disabilities need wills, too.  Depending on the disability, however, an estate planner may need to do a little extra work to ensure that the testator’s intent is upheld if the will is challenged.  In deciding other issues in Ammons v. Clouds, the Georgia Supreme Court gave estate planners a few suggestions on how to draft a will for a blind client.

In Georgia, there is some authority that, if a testator is blind, more than the ordinary degree of “positive proof that he actually knew and assented [to the contents of the will] is required to repel any suspicion which circumstances may have cast upon the good faith of the transaction . . . .”  Estate planners, therefore, should take extra care to show that the will was prepared according to the testator’s

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Petition To Probate Copy Of Testator’s Will Denied

January 30, 2014

Authors

Luke Lantta

Petition To Probate Copy Of Testator’s Will Denied

January 30, 2014

by: Luke Lantta

Just a few months ago, we saw the Georgia Supreme Court decide that a copy of a will was good enough to admit to probate.  At that time, we said

Under Georgia law, if the original of a will cannot be found for probate, there is a presumption that the testator intended to revoke the will.  But this presumption can be overcome if a copy is established by a preponderance of the evidence to be a true copy of the original and if it is established by a preponderance of the evidence that the testator did not intend to revoke the will.

Now, in Britt v. Sands, we see that same Supreme Court decide that a copy was not good enough.  What was the difference?

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Pecan Farms And Alleged Fraud

December 10, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

Pecan Farms And Alleged Fraud

December 10, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

It’s not uncommon to hear that someone gets left the family farm allegedly based on a promise to keep farming the land or to keep the farm in the family.  What if the devisee never follows through on that promise and once he receives the property, he quickly sells it?  In Johnson v. Burrell, the Georgia Supreme Court considered claims that a devisee of a pecan farm made false statements to the testator, upon which the testator relied in making a will.

In a new will, Hubert Johnson devised a 350 acre pecan farm to Donna Ellis Burrell.  A few weeks after executing the will, Hubert died.  Two of Hubert’s kin filed caveats alleging that Donna executed undue influence over Hubert and that she procured the execution of the will through fraud or misrepresentation.  In Georgia, a

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Copy Of Will Was Good Enough

November 26, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

Copy Of Will Was Good Enough

November 26, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

Testators may want to keep careful track of who has copies of their will and where those copies are.  If only a copy of a will – and not the original – is found, it may raise a question about whether the testator destroyed the original in an attempt to revoke it.  Such was the argument made by the caveators in Johnson v. Fitzgerald.  Let’s see why the Georgia Supreme Court felt like a copy was good enough to admit to probate in solemn form.

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Georgia Supreme Court Addresses Numerous Fiduciary Litigation Topics In Will Contest Opinion

July 23, 2013

Authors

Luke Lantta

Georgia Supreme Court Addresses Numerous Fiduciary Litigation Topics In Will Contest Opinion

July 23, 2013

by: Luke Lantta

Standing to caveat a will?  Check.  Undue influence?  Check.  Testamentary capacity?  Check.  Monomania?  Fraud?  Check and double check.  While the Georgia Supreme Court’s opinion in Odom v. Hughes didn’t break any new ground, it examined such a wide range of will contest topics that it’s definitely worth a read.  Without further ado . . .

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