What are my rights if I was at disinherited by my father?

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What are my rights if I was at disinherited by my father?

My father just died. His Will was changed by a novice attorney about 6 weeks prior. Up to that point, my dad told me his estate would be split 50-50 between my only sibling and I. Now all of a sudden, she is receiving 100% of his estate. However, her name is misspelled on 1 of the pages of the Will. Does this raise any red flags to you? My sister did not even provide me with the name of his “new” lawyer.

Asked on January 6, 2016 under Estate Planning, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, a parent may completely disinherit a child. And generally, a typo or mispelling doesn't raise any legal red flags--all it suggests is poor proofreading.
A will would be invalid if procured by fraud (by lies; e.g. by lying about what someone was signing to get them to sign a new will); by undue influence (if the testator, or person making the will, is particularly dependent on someone, like a caregiver, and that person uses his/her position of power to get the testator to change the will); or by duress (threats). It is also invalid if the testator was not mentally incompetent at the time of the will. And, of course, it's not valid if it's a "fake"--that is, if someone else, not the testator--made the will. If you think one of these things happened--such as if your sister took more care of your father than you, and used her access or power to make him do a new will; or if your father had bad eyesight and your sister slipped  a new will in front of him to sign without telling him what it was; or if your sister and lawyer simply made up a new will and that's not your father's signature--you'd have grounds to challenge the will, but would need to have or reasonably be able to get evidence of this; a mere suspicion is not enough.
Note that if there was fraud, duress, influence, etc. and your father simply did decide to leave it all to your sister for any reason, including maybe that he'd had some recent fight or argument with you, that is perfectly legal.


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