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What could you do about possible estate fraud?


Drawing an estate plan allows a testator to write a will that distributes assets in an intended manner. Other estate planning documents, such as a financial power of attorney or a health care proxy, serve other important purposes. Unfortunately, fraud may rear its head even when someone takes careful steps during the planning process. Knowing how to prevent estate fraud could make things easier for all involved parties.

A matter of estate fraud

Older persons could become more susceptible to estate fraud due to a decline in health or mental awareness. Close beneficiaries, such as adult children, might find it necessary to watch for changes in any estate plans. If someone appeared as a beneficiary in a will or transfer on death account for several years, it might seem strange the person ends up disinherited just as a parent’s health declines.

Perhaps someone used undue influence to benefit themselves at the expense of others. Coercing an aged person to make changes to a will could be an example of fraud.

An older parent might give a power of attorney to one child who then drains the accounts. Such behavior may also result from coercion or by taking advantage of someone who lacked his or her full mental capacities.

Dealing with estate fraud

Preventing estate fraud could be much easier than dealing with its aftermath. Adult children and other close relatives might wish to remain on top of all matters related to wills and probate. Upon discovering a mysterious change, an heir may take steps to fix things before the testator passes away. The same might be true with other estate documents, such as a living will.

Changes made to a will based on fraud won’t likely be legal. Proving someone fraudulently guided someone to make changes to estate documents could render those documents invalid during the probate process.