Together, your parents started a business. During those early years while the family-owned company was on the cusp of success, your mother died, leaving your father to take the reins alone. He accomplished much, building the business into a pillar reaching markets throughout the region. In time, your father remarries.
Along the way, you joined the firm, working alongside your father, learning the business and bringing new ideas. But, after a while, your father falls ill and must step away from this growing company. His abrupt death shocks you. And you are in for another shock upon learning that your father disinherited you in his will. In your heart, you know something is not right. The suspicions mount, and you choose to challenge this will.
Fraud, undue influence and forgery
You and your siblings were excluded from the will. Upon learning that your stepmother and her children from a previous marriage received the bulk of your father’s estate, you decide to fight for what rightfully belongs to you. Probate litigation is the next step.
There are a number of reasons to challenge a will. Some of them include:
- Undue influence: Did someone, perhaps your stepmother, persuade him to alter the previous will to benefit her and her children? Were threats made? In such situations, vulnerable and easily influences testators like your father are easy targets.
- Declining mental capacity: If your father lacked cognitive abilities to fully understand what he was doing in revising his will, you have a strong case. For example, how can a person who may no longer recognize you know exactly what he is doing when making estate planning decisions?
- A scenario of fraud: With a declining mental capacity, your vulnerable parent is an easy victim of trickery. A financial predator may convince him to sign documents for other matters, but those documents actually may relate to his estate plan.
- Forgery: Forging documents is another method used by fraudsters in attempts to swipe an inheritance from a rightful heir.
You know that your father took good care of his family – your family – from the beginning. And you know that he would not have disinherited you and your siblings. In such a situation, it is time to contest the will and put up a legal fight in probate.