Fraud, in the context of a Will Contest, means proving that a beneficiary knowingly used false statements, which caused the testator to change the Will to benefit the beneficiary.
For example, a child lied to his mother, telling her that her other child was dead. The lie caused the mother to change her will, giving her entire estate to the child who lied. The Will is the result of Fraud.
The judge hearing a Will Contest case can find the Will invalid due to Fraud only if he or she hears the proper evidence. Gathering this evidence will require depositions, expert witnesses, interrogatories, witness interviews, subpoenaed documents, and evidence presented following the Rules of Evidence and subject to objections by the Will’s proponent. Our experienced Will Contest Attorney will walk you through every step of this complicated journey.
The essential elements of a Fraud Will Contest are the lie, a change to the will, and that change damaging the interested party. All items must exist. If, in the example described above, the child lied to his mother, but the mother made no change, or the lying child gained no benefit, then Fraud did not occur. Further, proving that the deceased had diminished capacity will help the case. A person with a weakened intellect is more subject to manipulation than a healthy person.
Proving Fraud can be difficult, as often the only witnesses to the false statements are the deceased and the person telling the lies.
Only an “interested party” may bring a Fraud Will Contest Challenge. A person would become an interested party if Fraud damaged them financially.
For example, if a child’s lie causes a mother to change her will, reducing another child’s inheritance, only the damaged child is an “interested party.” Though others may know of the Fraud, they have no standing to bring the matter to court.
If you have any questions about a Will Contest based on Fraud or any other estate law topics, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Klenk Law has focused only on Estate Law for more than two decades. We’ve seen it all, and this experience allows us to explain complex estate law and Probate clearly and concisely. If you are involved in Will Challenge Litigation, our experienced Probate Litigation Attorneys will make it easy for you to understand and provide top-notch representation so you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.
Peter Klenk is the founding member of Klenk Law, a seven attorney boutique estate planning law firm. We serve clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Minnesota and Florida. Peter Klenk received his Masters in Taxation LL.M. from NYU Law School and his J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School. He served his country in the Navy JAGC during Desert Storm. Easy to talk to, feel free to call Peter for an appointment. We will make the process as easy as possible!
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