Will contests and inheritance fraud are big problems that never receive much media coverage. Everyday, children, grandchildren, siblings and jilted spouses race to courthouses across the country claiming they were wrongfully cut out of the someone’s will. Sometimes family members go to court to prevent an overreaching caregiver or family member from taking advantage of an incapacitated loved one.
Modern wills often contain a “no contest” provision. These are inserted to prevent family members from squabbling over assets after one’s death. While the intent is good, problems occur when true fraud occurs. If properly drafted they can prevent a beneficiary from contesting a will after death. The penalty for losing will contests with a no contest clause is often forfeiting all rights to any inheritance.
Will contests and inheritance fraud are governed by state law. No contest clauses are recognized by most states. Alabama and Vermont have no laws on these clauses while Florida and Indiana specifically prohibit them. In the other 46 states they are generally recognized although the exceptions often vary state to state. Trying to contest a will in these states can be tricky but is usually possible if the person challenging can prove fraud.
There is quite a difference between will contests alleging that a will is “unfair” versus those where someone believes that a forgery has occurred or that the person who made the will was the victim of undue influence at the time the will was signed. The former cases are nothing more than sour grapes while the latter are aimed stopping a fraud.
The time for filing will contests is quite limited in most states. When a no contest provision is found in the will, the stakes are even higher. If you believe that someone has improperly denied your rightful share of an inheritance or if you feel a loved one was unduly influenced to give away his or her assets to someone else, call us immediately.
The fraud lawyers at Mahany & Ertl specialize in all types of fraud and can help you with will contests. Let us help you get back what is rightfully yours. For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (direct). All inquiries kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
Posted by Brian Mahany