One of the many shortcomings of probate law is how to deal with alleged “promises” to leave a loved one something as part of one’s estate. The typically scenario involves an elderly or sick individual promising to leave something of value to their caretaker in exchange for the caretaking services. In Georgia, there are a few specific rules that must be followed for such a promise to be enforceable.

As set forth in O.C.G.A. 53-4-3, a contract made that is intended to obligate an individual to make a will or a testamentary disposition, must be done in a writing that provides expressly what is being promised and signed by the individual obligated to make the testamentary disposition. In addition, the person making the contact must get something in exchange so that there is valuable consideration.Basically, the person making the promise should make it in writing and sign it. These rules also apply to promises not to revoke a will or a testamentary disposition, or to die intestate.

If the promise was made before January 1, 1998, Georgia Courts will consider oral promises in some circumstances.

If someone promised to leave you a testamentary disposition, you should be certain that you get it done in writing. In addition, it is also good practice for you to be able to review the actual will that provides for your bequest.

If you or loved one needs to discuss issues relating to the enforceability of a promise concerning a testamentary disposition, the estate planning lawyers at Durden & Mills, PC can assist you. Call us at (706) 543-4708 for a free consultation.

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