Do you suspect that the will of a family member has been forged?
If you are a legal beneficiary that has been cut out of an inheritance by the sudden appearance of a new or suspicious will, you may have reason to challenge the validity of the new will in probate court.
It is always advisable to consult with an estate planning law firm when contesting a forged will because state law and procedures vary.
Reasons a Will may be considered forged:
The testator’s signature may have been photocopied, traced, or handwritten by someone else. In this case, a handwriting expert can make a determination against a previous signature known to be valid.
It is a requirement that two valid witnesses sign every Last Will & Testament in California. In the case of a forged will, the witnesses will be held accountable for committing fraud unless their signatures are also forged. The probate litigation attorney may call the witnesses listed to give testimony or deny involvement, thus invalidating their signature.
Lack of Capacity:
Having the signature of the testator does not immediately validate a will. It must be deemed that the signee was of sound mind and legally able to give a signature at the time of signing. This can prove challenging to contest but is usually contested if a long-standing will is suddenly replaced in old age.
Those who may coerce and commit probate fraud could be close relatives who feel entitled to more inheritance. They can also include those with power of attorney, end of life caregivers, those with known money troubles or personal injury, and more.
What happens when a will is proven to be fake?
Once a will has been proven in probate court to be forged, each case may be carried out differently. In most cases, a previously valid will may be considered and distributed accordingly. In the case where no other will has been found, the decedent would be considered to have died “intestate.”
Intestate means they passed without a valid will. In these cases, the estate will be distributed based on intestacy laws. Beneficiaries of intestate estates typically include the closest living relatives. This may mean that the person who forged the will may still receive part of the inheritance.
The Legacy Lawyers
If you have good reason and evidence to believe that a will has been forged, it is always advisable to investigate further and explore your options. Proving a forged will is not a simple and straightforward process. It requires the assistance of probate attorneys to navigate the procedure correctly.
At The Legacy Lawyers, we specialize in probate law and are skilled in helping you contest a will that you believe to be forged. We can also assist with all estate planning litigation related matters and are ready to walk with you every step of the way.
If you need assistance establishing a plan for an estate planning document that has been forged, contact The Legacy Lawyers today at (714) 963-7543.