Non-probate transfers of assets can be tough to attack. First, they’re often hard for estate beneficiaries or heirs to find out about. Second, even if they do know about them, in Georgia they’re often wrongly challenged in probate court or there’s a probate court ruling or order that makes them difficult to challenge in the appropriate forum.
That’s why a case like Prainito v. Smith is unusual. In this case, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a jury verdict that a decedent’s grandson exercised undue influence and committed actual fraud with regard to a securities account to which the grandson was a joint tenant with the decedent and a certificate of deposit on which the grandson was a payable on death beneficiary.
The appellate court’s failure to flesh out some more of the underlying details of the case and failure to fully address the undue influence claim, however, make the decision one that may create some issues down the road. (more…)