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What happens when a will isn’t valid?

On Behalf of | Jun 30, 2021 | Probate & Estate Planning |

Someone concerned about his or her spouse, children and other loved ones may spend significant time writing a will. The testator may not realize, however, that a Georgia court could deem a particular will invalid. An invalid last will and testament would carry no legal weight in court, meaning the intestate laws will guide the court’s decisions.

Intestate laws and probate

When someone dies without a will, the state’s intestate laws guide the asset division among heirs. Georgia’s laws apply to property held solely in the Peach State. A home owned in neighboring Florida, for example, becomes subject to that state’s laws.

The deceased testator’s wishes may appear crystal clear in the invalid will, but the courts likely won’t follow the directives of a will they deem unacceptable. The court’s distribution of assets might go contrary to the testator’s wishes. For example, a disinherited relative might now have a valid claim to some property.

Making sure a will is valid

Adequate preparation for probate and estate planning may increase the chances that a will proves valid. Georgia statutes designate definitive requirements for a will to be valid. The testator must be competent and sign the will and the signatures of two witnesses are necessary.

Georgia law may vary from statutes in other states. When a person owns property in two states, it is necessary to determine a will’s validity in another jurisdiction if out-of-state probate becomes unavoidable.

Creating a poorly constructed do-it-yourself will might lead to a disaster scenario for heirs. They may find themselves going through a stressful probate process due to the original will being useless in court. To prevent this, an attorney may review a testator’s will to determine if writing a new one is necessary. The attorney may advise the client on other matters related to estate planning and probate as well.