There are a variety of ways a person could commit fraud in the will process, such as by unduly influencing a testator who is drafting their will, interfering with the execution of a valid will, or displaying fraudulent behavior while representing a deceased person’s estate.
Fighting fraud in Manalapan Township wills can be made more effective with help from a qualified trusts & estates lawyer. A knowledgeable legal representative who is experienced in fraud could help you identify fraudulent acts surrounding your loved one’s will and ensure they do not result in an unfair or unwanted outcome in probate.
Contesting the Validity of a Will
Under normal circumstances, all a testator needs to do to make their will valid and enforceable is compile it in written form, sign it themselves, and have it signed by two witnesses. However, it is possible for someone to get close to a cognitively, emotionally, or financially vulnerable testator and try to influence them into changing the terms of their will, an act which could constitute a form of fraud under certain circumstances.
If a person puts “mental, moral, or physical” pressure on a testator to the point that the testator no longer has free will about where their property and assets will go, that person may be considered to have engaged in “undue influence.” If a court finds that undue influence impacted the drafting or revising of a will, they have the authority to declare the will invalid.
In this situation, the burden on proof that undue influence occurred falls on the party accusing someone else of interfering with a testator’s wishes and best interests. However, a local legal professional may be able to help dig up evidence of fraud in a will and present it in a compelling way to a probate judge.
Common Types of Probate Fraud
In addition to undue interference during the drafting of a will, it is also possible for fraud to occur after a testator has passed away during the execution of their will. For example, if a decedent did not leave a will or did not specifically name an administrator for their estate, less scrupulous family members may be dishonest about the relationship they had with the decedent in an attempt to control what is done with the decedent’s estate.
Other common forms of fraud that may occur during the probate process include:
- Executor fraud
- Spousal elective share fraud
- Guardianship fraud
- Trustee fraud
- Fraud by someone with power of attorney
Depending on the circumstances, a dedicated lawyer in the Manalapan Township area could help establish the truth in a will fraud situation and, if necessary, petition for a dishonest executor, trustee, guardian, or agent to be removed from their role and from any further interference in the probate process.
Seek Help Fighting Will Fraud from a Manalapan Township Attorney
Fraud before and during the probate process is unfortunately a significant risk in many situations, especially when someone passes away with a large and valuable estate. Depending on the assets and people involved, a single fraudulent act or act of undue influence could impact how millions of dollars in assets and property are distributed.
If you suspect fraud in a Manalapan Township will, you should talk to a trusts & estates lawyer as soon as possible about your legal options. Call today to schedule your initial consultation.