A will is a crucial component of any estate plan. This document outlines the final wishes of the testator. For example, the testator may wish to leave their house to the children in equal parts.
For a will to be valid, it must accurately reflect the wishes of the testator. If there are indications that a will has been drafted fraudulently, then will contests are likely to occur. What are some of the most common examples of will fraud?
In California, the laws regarding wills are quite specific. Firstly, the will must be written and it must concern someone who is at least 18 years old. The signing of the will must also be witnessed by two responsible parties who are not set to receive anything from the will.
Will contests can happen when an interested party challenges the validity of the signing process. They may suggest that the signature on the will is not legitimate and that it has been forged by someone else. If there are questions over the reliability and impartiality of witnesses, or there were no witnesses present, then the will can also be challenged.
Where a will has been destroyed
It’s not uncommon for old wills to be destroyed. In fact, this is often recommended to avoid any confusion. However, in the reverse scenario, where it is argued that a more recent will has been destroyed, this could result in accusations of fraud.
A will may be fraudulent if it does not accurately include the most recent wishes of the testator. Fraud can occur if an interested party has destroyed a recent document in an attempt to try and give precedence to an older document.
If you suspect that a will has been drafted fraudulently, then it will benefit you to seek legal guidance.