A will is a powerful legal document that determines who inherits from an estate and possibly gives someone authority over minor children when their parents or guardians die. Individuals create wills to provide for their loved ones when they die and to have a lasting impact on the world.
Sometimes, those closest to a person who recently died question the accuracy or validity of the estate documents presented to the Minnesota probate courts. People may question if fraud played a role in an estate plan and want to challenge the will in court.
What are two warning signs of potential fraud?
Strange and unexpected changes
If your family has always known about the specific estate plan for your parents because they shared their documents openly, you made me feel rather shocked at the reading of a will that contradicts everything they told their family.
Especially when one person who may have had frequent access to your loved one before their death benefits more than others, you may start question whether they manipulated or tricked your loved one into signing a document or adjusting their will. You may also need to consider undue influence if you think manipulation, not fraud, led to those changes.
A will that isn’t self-proved
Individuals who have taken the time to tell their loved ones about their intended legacy may very well have taken other steps to ensure that their wishes hold up in court. All it takes is an allegation of fraud or undue influence to drag an estate through probate court and diminish what everyone inherits.
Minnesota allows individuals to certify their will to make it harder to challenge later. Anyone over the age of 18 who wants to deter probate challenges can draft a self-proved will. Not only does a self-proved will require the two witnesses necessary for any standard will, but they will also have to sign affidavits.
Wills that do not include the self-proved affidavits and necessary witness signatures may be more vulnerable to challenges and may give you a reason to suspect fraud if you know your loved one had self-proved their prior will.
Learning more about the unusual circumstances that give rise to probate litigation can help you better evaluate the validity of your loved one’s testamentary documents.