The Pitfalls of Going It Alone–The Forged Will

Drafting a will can be a delicate process, because various legal requirements must be met before the document will have any legal effect. Cases abound of wills which were thrown out because they did not conform to the technical requirements. Ensuring that everything will be done pursuant to legal rules is one key reason to have the aid of an estate planning attorney.

Beyond that, when planning professionals are not involved in these matters, there is a far greater chance that fraudulent and illegal practices might be undertaken. When money is on the line, sometimes the worst characteristics in everyone seeps out. For one thing, it is not uncommon for entire wills to be forged, and when outside observers to the planning are few and far between, those forgeries sometimes even work.

Forged Will
Recently, RTE News published a story of this nature, as several men stand accused of trying to create fake papers following the passing of an 82-year old farmer. It is a cautionary tale, and an important reminder not to leaves loose ends when it comes to ensuring your inheritance wishes are locked in.

The man in this case died over fourteen years ago, on Christmas Day in 1998. At the time of his passing he owned 162 acres of land, property, and assets in various accounts. When he died a Last Will and Testament was produced which suggested that the man left everything that he owned to a distant relative. The will was allegedly signed about four month before the man’s passing. The executors of the will happened to be the distant relative’s best friend and the friend’s brother.

Little did the authorities know at the time, but the will was apparently a fake–forged via agreement between the distant relative and two executors.

The crimes were only uncovered years later when one of the executors, for reasons that are not clear, felt guilty and confessed his crimes to local authorities. He explained how the distant relative was the instigator, convincing the other two men to participate with promises to pay money.

The three men involved in this case will face jail time and significant fines. However, it is impossible to know how many similar crimes are committed every year that never result in accountability. It is important for New York families to act prudently to forestall any chance of another using their passing as an opportunity to become unjustly enriched. You cannot speak for yourself after you are gone, so it is vital to ensure your voice is heard loud and clear via preparations made early on.

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