Eric Wilborn and Kristin Kole Bloodworth, Stewart Melvin & Frost attorneys, recently assisted a client with resolving an estate dispute that eventually made its way from Probate Court to Superior Court, then ultimately to the Georgia Court of Appeals with a successful conclusion.
Following the death of their client’s mother, the client was sued by her brother over property that was left to her in their mother’s will. The client had cared for her mother, who suffered from dementia, and dealt with similar frustrations with her brother following their father’s passing. In her will, the mother left her house to her daughter and equally divided the remainder of her estate among her surviving children.
After the estate was distributed and the petition for discharge of probate was filed, the daughter’s brother filed a caveat and counterclaim for damages in Probate Court. The brother’s efforts to thwart the estate closure were dismissed by the Probate Court as untimely and the petition for discharge was granted.
Six months later, the brother filed an action in Superior Court against his sister claiming that she had abused their mother and taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in alleged cash that should have been given to all of the children. The brother further alleged that his sister improperly retained all of the proceeds from the sale of their mother’s house, which the mother had left to her in the will.
In response, Wilborn and Bloodworth filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted after oral argument. The brother then appealed to the Court of Appeals, claiming that the trial court erred in its finding that he was barred from contesting his mother’s will because he had already accepted his inheritance during the estate administration.
Before the Court of Appeals, Wilborn and Bloodworth again defeated the brother’s claims reinforcing their arguments that the brother’s allegations pre-dated the mother’s passing and that the contents of his mother’s will would have been known to him during probate. In affirming the trial court’s dismissal of the brother’s case, the Court of Appeals found that the brother took his inheritance with full knowledge of all relevant facts and he could not subsequently make a claim against the will.
“This poor woman had been dealing with her brother’s harassment for years. It’s very gratifying to know that we helped settle this matter so that she can finally begin to grieve her mother’s passing.” said Eric Wilborn.
Stewart Melvin & Frost attorneys are recognized statewide for their expertise in assisting clients with complex estate and trust administration issues. The firm knows that the estate settlement process occurs, by its very nature, during an emotionally difficult time and that compassionate and caring legal advice can be of great comfort to clients. They strive to offer an “uncommon” balance of compassion for clients and passion for the law.