One reason that people need to contest a will is fraud. However, there are different types of fraud. Let’s look at three common types.
Fraud in the inducement: This is where a testator (the person writing the will) disposes of their property or revokes a will and makes a new one based on a lie someone told them to benefit themselves.
For example, maybe your elderly, widowed father intended to leave a significant amount of money to you and your brother. However, your brother wanted all the money for himself. He convinced your father that you had passed away or perhaps had developed a serious drug addiction and should not be entrusted with any money. Therefore, he rewrote his will, leaving you out.
Fraud in the execution: That’s when a person tells the testator they’re signing the will they intended to sign when in fact they’re signing something else.
Let’s say that no-good fraudster brother of yours worked with your father to draft a will leaving half of everything to each of you. However, he put a second will in front of him to sign that doesn’t mention you at all.
Fraud caused by duress: This is when someone exerts undue influence over a testator to get them to sign a will that doesn’t disperse their property the way they intend. This duress could be a threat of some sort. However, it often happens when someone, like a family member or caregiver, has taken control of a person’s life and their decisions.
All of these types of fraud are more prevalent when a testator is cognitively impaired by dementia, medication and/or old age. They’re also far less likely to occur when the testator has an attorney involved in their estate planning.
It’s better to prevent fraud from occurring rather than have to deal with it through a will contest. Do you have an older loved one who is easily manipulated, dependent on someone to care for them and/or is suffering from dementia or cognitive impairment caused by illness or medications? Make sure they aren’t tricked into drawing up or changing any estate planning documents that don’t reflect their true wishes.