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Probate Court did not err appointing County Administrator to Administer Will Rather than Named Executor

In Estate of Jeffcoat, 2021 Ga. App. LEXIS 554 (2021), Eleisha Pate filed a Petition to Probate the Will of Rhonda Jeffcoat, her mother. Pate was the named Executor. However, evidence in the Probate Court showed that Pate and her half-sister, Shauna Jeffcoat, could not get along. As a result, the Probate Court found Pate was “unfit due to her actions after the death of the Decedent.”

The Court of Appeals found there was some evidence to support the Probate Court’s ruling. “Unless adjudged unfit, nominated executors shall have the right to qualify in the order set out in the will.” OCGA ยง 53-6-10(b). “The word `unfit,’ as used in this statute, is given a broad meaning and is not merely limited to physical, mental, or moral conditions.” However, “[i]rreconcilable differences and animosity, between a nominated executor on the one hand and the beneficiaries on the other, authorize but do not require the probate court’s refusal to appoint the person nominated in the will as executor.”

However, “[i]rreconcilable differences and animosity, between a nominated executor on the one hand and the beneficiaries on the other, authorize but do not require the probate court’s refusal to appoint the person nominated in the will as executor.”

Although Pate argues that the probate court erroneously considered evidence that had not been admitted, there is no indication that the court considered such evidence, which she explicitly had ruled was not admitted. We presume that the probate court relied only upon proper evidence.

The Court rejected a second arguement that property was sold without giving her prior notice. At the evidentiary hearing, Shauna Jeffcoat requested that the decedent’s house be sold and the proceeds distributed to her and Pate. Pate did not object. Failure to object at the hearing was implied consent.

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