What Do You Do if You Suspect a West Palm Beach Will was Forged?
When someone attempts to submit a will for probate that has been forged, it can result in serious legal trouble. If there is a purposeful intent to submit a will that contains improper information or was forged, it’s known as probate fraud. When a loved one passes away and the will is read, it’s not entirely uncommon for disputes to erupt. However, one family member griping that they don’t think they are getting their fair share is different than the signature of the will being forged or a beneficiary claiming the will was signed under duress.
If you believe someone you love passed away and their will is fraudulent, or was coerced, it’s important to contact a West Palm Beach probate litigation attorney right away. The earlier you get an attorney involved, the better. Your attorney will help you file an objection to the will. You only have a short window of time to submit your complaint once you have notice of the administration of the will.
You will need to submit evidence to the court that will show that the will was coerced or forged. This can involve tracking down witnesses who were present when it was being signed, as well as the notary public. Your attorney will proceed to depose the witnesses who saw the family member signing the will. The notary public is sometimes guilty of notarizing a will without verifying the witnesses actually were present when it was signed. In the event the notary notarized the will without verification, he or she could be charged with a felony by the State of Florida.
In some cases, it may be necessary to hire a handwriting expert who can ask questions and review signatures in an attempt to determine whether or not the signature on the will is valid.
Examples of Florida Probate Litigation
Probate fraud is more than just submitting a false will. There may need to be litigation during the probate process if any of the following situations occurred:
- Executor Appointments: In the absence of a will and no one in the family can agree on an executor, (also called an administrator, and in Florida it is called a personal representative) then there will be a need for a contested hearing. If there is a question of someone lying, an experienced West Palm Beach probate litigation attorney can help gather evidence to prove someone is being deceitful.
- Contesting a Will: When someone suspects a will has been forged or that there is another will that is technically valid out there, they will need to contest the will. This will result in the probate court deciding whether or not the will being presented can be validated.
- Executor Fraud: If the family or another interested party thinks the executor (personal representative) has committed fraud or overcharged the estate, then a probate attorney can prove to the judge that fraud was committed and ensure the money is returned to the estate.
- Undue Influence: If someone believes that a will, a trust, a deed or a bank account beneficiary designation, was procured by someone who exercised control over a decedent, then undue influence litigation may be necessary to set the instrument aside.
Contact a West Palm Beach Probate Attorney Today
If you suspect a will was forged or there were other acts of probate fraud being committed, contact the West Palm Beach probate attorney at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.