It is common for people to experience shock and even disappointment over what their loved one includes or doesn’t include in a last will or estate plan. Most of the time, that disappointment stems from unrealistic expectations. However, it is also possible that the last will or estate plan does not accurately reflect the wishes or intentions of the testator.
For example, it could be possible for a caregiver to exert undue influence on someone in a compromised medical state or for someone to change their last will after a protracted period of cognitive decline has left them legally incapable of executing documents. These issues can lead to challenges against the last will in Minnesota probate court.
Although it is less common, people also have to worry about the potential for fraud to impact their loved one’s estate. Allegations of fraud can be particularly difficult to prove in probate court because of Minnesota’s unique requirements for last wills. However, with documentation and the right professional help, it is still possible to do so.
Minnesota requires the signature of two close witnesses
In many states, a testator creating a last will will set the terms for thee document with their attorney and then sign the documents in front of a witness, potentially a notary. In Minnesota, in order to decrease the risk of someone fraudulently signing someone else’s name or creating a false document, the state requires that two individuals familiar with the contents of the document witness the signing of the last will or estate plan and that the individual names a specific executor.
Those additional signatures can make it more difficult to prove fraud in some cases unless those witnesses also happened to be the individuals who primarily benefit from the terms of the last will.
How to demonstrate potential fraud in a last will
As previously noted, if the witnesses to the document’s signing are also the primary beneficiaries, their involvement in the will creation process may give the judge reason to consider your concerns about fraud.
Alternatively, it may be possible for you to speak to the alleged witnesses and verify whether or not they were present and signed the documents on the date listed on the form. Handwriting experts could also assist by showing that the signature of the testator or the signature of either of the witnesses was intentionally falsified.
It may also be possible to present other last wills or documents created by the testator, such as letters or text messages that contradict the terms of the will, and show that the document doesn’t reflect their actual intentions. Building a case for fraud when challenging a will requires evidence, but it is possible for those who wish to prevent the subversion of their loved one’s wishes.