A Strong Offense
A Stronger Defense
People with disabilities need wills, too. Depending on the disability, however, an estate planner may need to do a little extra work to ensure that the testator’s intent is upheld if the will is challenged. In deciding other issues in Ammons v. Clouds, the Georgia Supreme Court gave estate planners a few suggestions on how to draft a will for a blind client.
In Georgia, there is some authority that, if a testator is blind, more than the ordinary degree of “positive proof that he actually knew and assented [to the contents of the will] is required to repel any suspicion which circumstances may have cast upon the good faith of the transaction . . . .” Estate planners, therefore, should take extra care to show that the will was prepared according to the testator’s wishes. The will should be read to the testator. This reading should be documented in the planner’s file and it may be a good practice to have the witnesses to the will execute contemporaneous affidavits recounting that the will was, in fact, read to the testator before he or she executed it. While the videotaping of a will execution is seldom a good idea, in the case of a blind or visually impaired client, a video may prove helpful. Also, if resources permit, consider preparation of a Braille copy of the will.
There are countless options for demonstrating that a will was prepared according to the testator’s intent, the point is that – when drafting for a disabled client – the planner consider taking some steps in addition to the normal practice.