There are several reasons why a will can be contested. And fraud is one of them. If the will does not reflect the testator’s true wishes, it may be possible to dispute the document on grounds of fraud. The law defines fraud as intentional deception intended for individual gain.
Fraud is seldom pleaded in a will contest for a couple of reasons. First, most frauds take place in secrecy. Second, the person whose wishes have been altered, the testator, may not be around to testify what their original intention was.
So how do you challenge a will on the basis of fraud?
There are three elements that you need to prove to contest a will on the basis of fraud. Here are these elements:
To prove fraud, you must demonstrate that there was a false representation with the goal that the testator will rely on that statement to create or amend their will. The element of “fraud” is often referred to as false representation, and it can come from a relative or a non-relative to the testator.
Intent is another key element in proving fraud in a will. Simply showing that someone misled the testator into amending their will is not sufficient proof of fraud. You must also demonstrate that the party who misled the testator intended to benefit unfairly from the said amendment.
Finally, to successfully prove fraud in a will, you must demonstrate that some injury occurred as a result of the fraudulent changes to the will. The injury may not necessarily mean that the testator was tricked into changing their will, but rather that the changes resulted in the intended heirs not getting what was duly meant for them.
Not many things are as upsetting as realizing that your loved one has been tricked or taken advantage of. If you believe a loved one has been a victim of fraud during the estate planning process, you might want to seek professional help to ensure that justice prevails.