When a family member dies, your grief can be compounded by shock and outrage if the will doesn’t match up with your expectations.
Could the will be a fraud? Is that even your loved one’s actual signature? Here are some reasons you should be suspicious:
1. It excludes someone or unduly benefits another for no obvious reason.
If your mother’s will excludes you and leaves everything to your sibling despite your seemingly good relationship with your mother, there should be some kind of explanation offered. If there isn’t, that’s a sign that your mother may not have actually been the author of the will.
2. You suspect another beneficiary of undue influence.
“Undue influence” simply means that someone used their proximity and relationship to the deceased to manipulate them. They may have pressured the deceased into signing a new will shortly before dying (another red flag that a will is fraudulent) or browbeaten them into signing a codicil that substantially excludes others. Or, maybe the new beneficiary of the will is someone wholly unexpected — like a home health aide — and you suspect that they may have taken advantage of your elderly relative’s dementia to get them to sign a new will.
3. You think the signature on the new will doesn’t look right.
If a new will pops up that is vastly different than any previous wills, look at that signature closely. Is it even your deceased relative’s handwriting? Experts say that you should look for a signature that is too long or too short, breaks in the penmanship (showing hesitation) and ink blots (caused by tension in the forger’s hand) that seem abnormal. If you have other samples of the deceased’s signature, comparing the two could help you decide.
If you think that your loved one’s will is a fake or the signature is forged, don’t hesitate to seek experienced legal counsel. Challenging a will is a complicated process — but waiting until the assets have been dispersed is a mistake.