Typically, the documents someone leaves behind when they die will determine what happens to their property and the people who depend on them, but sometimes those documents aren’t valid.
Allegations of fraud can lead to challenges against someone’s estate plan. Often, concerns about estate fraud relate to how a trustee or representative of an estate manages assets. There may be concerns about fraudulent billing claims or inappropriate distribution of estate assets. However, fraud claims can also relate to actual testamentary documents.
Sometimes, family members have reason to suspect that fraud may have played a role in the creation or alteration of someone’s estate documents. What are some of the more common forms of estate plan fraud?
Some people will create completely fake documents and try to pass them off as legitimate estate plans. Others might rework a single page of the documents and then try to include it with the other, authentic paperwork.
Forged signatures or notarizations
There could be concerns about fraud if the signature either looks too different from someone’s usual signature or looks like a tracing that duplicates an easily-available signature. On the other hand, there could be concerns about fraudulent notarization as well. Any indication that the marks on the paper are not authentic could lead to claims of fraud in probate court.
Misrepresentation made to the testator
It might be possible for people to trick a testator into signing a document when they aren’t aware of its contents. Suspicions of fraud are one of the scenarios in which beneficiaries and family members could challenge someone’s estate plan. Knowing when to initiate probate litigation can help you stand up for your loved one’s true legacy.