In Georgia, probate is the process that is necessary after a person has died. The court oversees it and it is designed for the personal representative (also called the executor) of a will to address the testator’s affairs. This includes accruing and distributing the assets, paying debts and taxes. It is generally hoped that this process will go smoothly with limited or no disagreements. Unfortunately, after a person has died, there is often dispute over a person’s property and how they structured their estate plan. It is therefore important to understand certain aspects of a case. One issue is what the law says about how witnesses will be examined during probate.
How are witnesses questioned during probate?
During probate, witnesses can be examined (questioned) as part of the process. This can be done in person or through written questions that will be answered under oath with a notary public present, through deposition or in discovery. This is comparable to any civil case. The probate court can compel witnesses to attend and take part in the proceeding. When witnesses testify, they can be shown a photocopy of the will if the original will is not available. Whether it is a photocopy or the original is irrelevant in the context of the witness testimony – it will be granted the same weight.
Why might witnesses be needed during probate?
Because probate can sometimes be contentious, the verification of the will and establishing its validity can be complex. For example, if there are allegations that the testator was coerced into putting certain things in the will that he or should was not expected to, challenging its authenticity and verifying it will likely require testimony about the matter. With probate, the goal is to reach a resolution based on the testator’s wishes and witnesses might be required to achieve that end.
Guidance for probate may be necessary
For estate administration and probate, issues can arise. It is a process that has many layers and part of that is establishing that the will is valid and heirs or potential heirs are treated reasonably. When there is a need for witness testimony or any other concern comes up, having legal assistance is essential to reach a satisfactory outcome. Consulting with those experienced in these circumstances is key.