What to do if You Believe You are a Victim of Estate Fraud
A person who is appointed to handle the closing out of an official estate Pennsylvania is known as the executor. Among other people who have a specific fiduciary responsibility to the estate itself as well as to the beneficiaries of that estate, and an executor falls among the ranks of trustees and guardians.
Estate fraud can be very complex, which makes finding it as a victim that much more difficult. As an added difficulty, as the person alleging estate fraud, you need evidence on your side to show this. It’s not easy to gather this information or to present it to the courts, so you need to be organized before you file and this can help when you have a Philadelphia lawyer.
Unfortunately, far too many people may be motivated to step into this important role and breach their fiduciary duty because they are motivated by money. Estate theft, however, is illegal and can significantly harm the beneficiaries who stood to receive money. Beneficiaries and heirs across Pennsylvania often deal with many different complex questions about property inside a decedent’s will, trust or estate, such as how a certain person became executor of the estate, where all of the money in the estate went and why did one person get so much money. These complex questions are related to inheritances, where assets are, and estates should only be handled by a knowledgeable probate dispute lawyer in Philadelphia.
Many heirs initiate probate documents to carry out discovery and some will even choose to file probate dispute lawsuits to attempt to find the answers to these questions. Certain beneficiaries or family members who believe that they have been defrauded or wronged by the decedent of the estate will initiate an allegation of fraud. For example, you might initiate a legal claim related to undue influence because this would allow you to bring a lawsuit against the person who is allegedly guilty and has coerced or unfairly influenced the person signing the will to alter his or her initial plans. In order to succeed at a probate fraud trial or any Pennsylvania trial related to a will, trust, estate or inheritance, a petitioner has to prove particular acts of fraud as supported by testimony, documents and other evidence. This will enable the probate court judge to see who committed the fraud and how it was carried out and the evidence must show that someone cheated, lied or did something that was misleading or criminal.
The beneficiary or heir who initiates the fraud lawsuit or officially contest a will must have a strong basis for bringing in such a lawsuit. Undue influence is one of the most common types of fraud that allows a lawsuit to be brought. You must demonstrate acts of force, duress or over persuasion. Fraud has to be pled or alleged in a lawsuit for trusts and wills with what is referred to as specificity. You need to gather your evidence and prepare to present it to an experienced attorney well before you have the chance to initiate a lawsuit. Your attorney will be able to inform you about what you can anticipate if you choose to move forward with litigation as well as a clear breakdown of many of the different types of pitfalls and obstacles that you could encounter. Be aware that anyone who is accused of any type of probate fraud including undue influence, could react very negatively and begin to mount a defense on their own. You need to be prepared for this by having enough evidence on your side.