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Estate administration and probate planning can prevent disputes

Although most people do not spend much time planning their estates, those in Georgia who own businesses may be more likely to make wills so that their heirs can benefit from their hard work. A well-known woman in another state built a reputable florist shop. When she died at age 86 from Alzheimer's disease, the estate administration and probate of her assets became a source of contention. Despite the fact that she made a will, at least one of the beneficiaries of the will was not satisfied.

The woman left the shop and the rest of her estate to her children. Her daughter inherited the shop since she helped her mother keep the business going as the mother's health deteriorated. The woman then divided the rest of her estate equally between her daughter and son, and left 10 percent to the only child of another son who had died 20 years earlier.

The granddaughter who received 10 percent of the estate is contesting the will. She believes she should have received one-third of all of her grandmother's assets, including the shop. She says it was always her grandmother's intention to divide the estate equally into thirds and to give her granddaughter the share that would have gone to her father had he been alive.

It is the girl's allegation that her aunt heavily influenced the grandmother when she wrote her will just two years before she died. At that time, the grandmother had been suffering from Alzheimer's for seven years, and the disease was progressing rapidly. Because of this and the medications the woman was taking, the granddaughter feels she was not in her right mind when she wrote the will.

The family will take the matter to court in the future. However, the outcome may not repair the hard feelings that already seem to exist between the disputing parties. People in Georgia who wish to protect their families from drawn-out legal battles over their assets could benefit from consulting an estate administration and probate attorney to discuss how wills and trusts can be created to avoid challenges.

Source:, "Veronica Shoemaker's will challenged in court", Bill Smith, Nov. 3, 2016

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