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Will Executed Under Fraud

One of the main reasons that people choose to create wills is to ensure that the people they care about and the causes they want to support receive a portion of their estate once they pass away. In other words, when someone creates a will, he (or she) is asserting control over the fate of his assets. When a testator memorializes his wishes in his will, the document is legally enforceable and his wishes must be followed. However, if the will was made under illegal circumstances, it is not legally enforceable and the terms will not be followed. One type of illegal circumstances would be a will executed under fraud. If you are concern that fraud may have been involved in the creating of a will of a loved one, discuss your concerns with a skilled Fort Lauderdale will contest lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Will Executed Under Fraud

In the case of a will, fraud means that a person made a false statement and as a result the testator changed the terms of his or her will to somehow benefit the person who made the false statement.

Example. Kim was very wealthy. She had no children. She decided to leave her entire estate to her 2 nieces, Cindy and Fran, divided equally. Fran wanted all of the estate. She worked hard to become closer to Kim. She helped Kim with errands and personal care as Kim got older and was unable to get around without help. Cindy lived far away and rarely communicated with Kim. One day Fran told Kim that she had bad news. Fran told Kim that Cindy had died in a car accident. This was not true. Kim was distraught. Fran reminded Kim to change her will, warning that if she did not, strangers would end up with Cindy’s share. Kim did change her will leaving everything to Fran.

What Fran did amounted to fraud. With the help of an experienced Fort Lauderdale will contest attorney, Cindy can object to the probating Kim’s will based on evidence of will executed under fraud.

Legal Standing in Florida

Anyone who wished to challenge the validity of a will must have legal standing to do so. This means that the person must have an interest in the outcome of the challenge. This would include beneficiaries of the will, beneficiaries of a prior will, and the decedent’s heirs under the rules of intestate succession.

  • Beneficiaries. A beneficiary of a will would have legal standing as he (or she) might be impacted if the will is invalidated. For example, a beneficiary may feel that he would have received a larger share of the decedent’s estate but for the fact that the fraud was involved in the execution of the will. If the will is invalidated, or if a term of the will is invalidated, the beneficiaries may very well be financially impacted.
  • Beneficiaries of a prior will. Beneficiaries of a prior will would have standing because if the will is invalidated, the court may probate a valid prior will.
  • Heirs. Under Florida’s intestate succession statute, if a decedent passes away without leaving will, then his property will go to those who are considered his legal heirs. Generally, the heirs would be the decedent’s surviving spouse and children. In the absence of a surviving spouse or children, the statute other relatives who would have the legal right to inherit such as the decedent’s siblings, parents, or grandparents.

If you are unsure as to whether you have legal standing to object to the validity of a will, an experienced will contest lawyer in Fort Lauderdale will be able to determine your status.

Consequences of a Finding of Fraud

If the probate court finds a will executed under fraud to exist, then it will invalidate the entire will, or it will treat the portion that resulted from fraud as if it does not exist. If the probate court judge finds the entire will is the result of fraud, the court will apply Florida's rules for intestate succession and distribute the decedent’s property to his or her legal heirs. If the court finds that a particular term was based on fraud, the court my invalidate that term and allow the rest of the will to stand.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you believe that the will of a friend or relative was created based on fraud, contact an experienced will contest attorney serving clients in Fort Lauderdale at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have years of experience representing personal representatives, beneficiaries, and heirs in disputes related to wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and other estate documents. We have the resources and skill to make sure that your rights are protected. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.