When people talk about their concerns regarding an estate plan, the focus is often on whether a family member or caregiver exerted undue influence. They may also question whether your loved one no longer had the necessary testamentary capacity at the time that they created or updated their estate plan or last will.
People often overlook the most egregious potential violation of a testator’s rights, which would be outright estate fraud. Estate fraud can involve tricking someone into signing a document without understanding its content or even falsifying a signature on a fake will.
Unlike other issues that occur during estate planning which often involve the influence of one person or the mental decline of the testator, fraud can involve multiple people, potentially even including an attorney or a notary.
Verifying official stamps and appointment dates can help in a fraud case
Sometimes the easiest way to begin the process of challenging a will on fraud grounds is to explore the professionals involved in the creation of the will or estate plan document that you believe was created under fraudulent circumstances.
In some cases, you may find that the notary public lost their stamp with a specific code on it prior to the date when the document in question was notarized. Other times, you might learn that the date your loved ones signed the estate plan or will was a day when they were traveling out of state or were in the hospital for surgery.
If you can demonstrate that your loved one was not present or that there are other serious issues that raised legitimate questions about the validity of the last will and the potential for fraud on the part of those who created it or those who benefit from it, you may have grounds to challenge the last will or estate based on the suspected fraud.