The estate plan someone leaves behind will shape the lingering effects they have on the lives of their loved ones and the world. Those who take the time to plan their legacy carefully are often eager to share their wishes with friends and family members.
Sometimes, after a person dies, it becomes obvious that the last will or estate plan left behind doesn’t align with their previously expressed wishes. Sometimes, people just change their intentions. Other times, there may have been fraud involved. What are some of the warning signs that fraud has altered an estate plan that you stand to benefit from or that you must administer as the executor?
The estate plan doesn’t have signatures or witnesses
Family members or executors may produce a last will that they claim they found in someone’s home. If that document doesn’t have all of the necessary signatures, including notarization and witness signatures, it might be an obvious warning sign that the document is something another person created. Digital estate planning documents are particularly easy for others to falsify, which may then lead to challenges against the document based on fraud concerns.
You have written communication that postdates the will
If you frequently communicated via email, text or even handwritten letters with your aging loved one, they may have occasionally made reference to their estate plan or any updates they made to it. When you have written documentation that shows a testator expressed wishes contrary to the documents now available, it might raise questions about the authenticity of the documents.
One person or several people benefit at the cost of the family
Fraudulent estate plan changes often benefit one person or just a few people from the possible pool of heirs for an estate. Especially when those individuals played a caregiving role in the life of an aging adult, they may have been in the position to trick someone into signing documents or alter existing paperwork.
Although dissatisfaction with the last will isn’t a reason to challenge an estate, factually based concerns about fraud could be. Standing up to such fraud not only protects the inheritance but also the intended legacy of your deceased loved one.