Suspected fraud related to a loved one’s Will is very upsetting and if it is confirmed, it will declare the Will invalid. Unfortunately fraudulently drafted Wills occur, as the monetary rewards of this type of fraud are potentially so large.
Spotting A Fraudulent Will
First of all, one thing which may make you suspect a Will has been fraudulently drafted is the signature. If the signature on a Will does not match the signature of your loved one this may be a sign that the Will is a fraud. However, this alone is not enough for a Will to be considered fraud.
For more evidence that fraud may have occurred, look towards the date of any changes or a redraft of the Will and look towards the requests contained within the Will itself. If the Will was adapted at a time when your loved one was severely ill, suffering mental health issues or was near to passing away, this may be a sign that the Will was fraudulently updated. Also look at the requests within a Will. If the main beneficiaries of the Will are unexpected – e.g. a child is excluded from the Will for no reason or the main beneficiary of the Will is someone beyond the family such as a lawyer or healthcare professional – this can also be a strong warning sign of fraud.
Dealing With A Fraudulent Will
If you suspect fraud, you must seek legal advice immediately. An accusation of fraud is extremely weighty, so you must find out from a lawyer whether or not you have reasonable evidence of fraud. This is because should you be unsuccessful in a case of alleged fraud that did not have reasonable evidence – you are likely to have to pay your opponents legal fees. If there is reasonable evidence to suspect fraud has occurred you will go to court to contest the Will with the support of your lawyer.
Should it be found that fraud has occurred, the way this is dealt with will be dependent upon the case itself. For more information about how a case of fraud may be dealt with by the courts, speak to a legal professional. However, in all cases, if a Will is ruled as being fraudulently drafted, the estate of the deceased is either distributed according to the terms of a previous, valid, draft of their Will or in the absence of an alternative draft it will be distributed in line with the laws of intestacy.