Unfortunately, fraud knows almost no bounds, and so people will resort to fraud in order to alter a will or an estate plan. This may become clear during the estate administration process, when most of the family is shocked by the contents of the will and one person clearly benefits from it more than anyone else.
So, how does this fraud occur? Here's one example:
- A son sees a father's will. He's not happy with what he is being given and decides to cut out his other two siblings.
- The son works with the father on his estate planning documents. These include things like a medical power of attorney, an advance medical directive and a legal power of attorney.
- The son drafts a new will that drastically reduces what the other two siblings get. He brings that will to his father, tells him it's a power of attorney and asks him to sign and date it.
- The father trusts the son and doesn't read the document. After all, they both talked extensively about what the power of attorney should do and the son kindly offered to help.
- The father then signs and dates the new will. Shortly after that, he passes away.
This is clear fraud when you know the whole story. However, the problem that many people face is that the person who signed the will is already deceased, so he or she can't weigh in on the contents of the will. Only the person who committed the fraud has all of the details. This can create a very complex and contentious legal situation, and it's critical for other family members to know all of the options they have.
Source: The Balance, "What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?," Julie Garber, accessed Feb. 16, 2018