Fraudulent Wills: When the Deceased Was Deceived
A finding of fraud will render a will void in Florida. While there are many reasons a will may be found void in whole or in part, fraud is a particularly dastardly situation. It means that someone deceived your loved one while they were preparing their estate for their passing.
If you believe that your loved one was defrauded, it is crucial that you enlist the help of a Fort Myers fraudulent will lawyer immediately. Not only is it important that the will is declared fraudulent before your loved one’s assets are distributed, it is just as vital that we prepare a plan to mitigate any other types of loss.
In Florida, a fraudulent will is not just void — the deceased may be treated as intestate or someone who died without an estate plan. A fraudulent will lawyer can help you show the courts if any prior wills or devices should be considered valid in place of the fraudulent will.
Proving a Fraudulent Will in Florida
There are two main avenues through which someone may procure a fraudulent will. The first is in the execution of the will. In this case, the deceased believes he or she is signing something different than what is actually being signing. The second is by inducement. In cases of inducement, someone purposefully misleads the deceased so that he or she creates a different will than what would have been created otherwise.
In Fort Myers and other parts of Florida, your fraudulent will lawyer must show four elements to prove fraud. Each element must be demonstrated in order to bring a successful claim.
First, there must be a false representation of a material fact to the deceased. In simpler terms, this is the lie or set of lies someone tells your loved one. Next, the fraudulent perpetrator must know that the representation or set of representations is false.
In other words, the person lying to or misleading your loved one knows he or she is being deceptive. Third, he or she must make these representations to your loved one with the intention that your loved one makes his or her will based on the falsehood. Finally, the deception must work as intended and create an injury to the deceased and his or her heirs when the fraudulent will is created.
Once your lawyer has proven a will is fraudulent, a few things may happen. Depending on the overall contents of your loved one’s estate plan, there may be other testamentary devices that are still valid. At that point, though, the probate courts will likely make a determination that the will is void and the estate will be distributed according to Florida estate law or a prior valid will.
Discuss with your lawyer any other wills or devices your loved one may have created so that your loved one’s will is enacted as closely as possible to his or her true wishes. Contact Freidin & Inglis, P.A. today.