New York courts define fraud in a will contest as someone “knowingly made a false statement to the testator which caused him to execute a will that disposed of his property in a manner differently than he would have in the absence of that statement.”
The party contesting the will needs to show that there was an intentional misrepresentation when it came to the will that the testator signed. This type of misrepresentation can come in many different forms, but most often what will be seen is that the testator is told the will says one thing when it does not or the testator is told that what they are signing is not a will but something else.
A common fraud is misrepresenting that the document that is being signed is not a will. This is most likely going to happen when the person signing the fraudulent document is unable to actually read the will for some reason and is depending on someone else relaying its contents correctly. This also happens when the person signing the fraudulent document trusts the person giving them the document to not lie to them about what the document is. Although there is no actual requirement that someone is able to read the will in order to have the capacity to sign it, just that they understand it is a will, what their property is and who their loved ones are, not being able or not wanting to read the document a person is given to sign easily leads to fraud.
The second kind of fraud is giving incorrect information about a person’s family and friends, telling that person that the family and friends are no good and don’t care about them, while at the same time isolating that person from their family and friends.
If you believe that there was fraud involved in your loved one’s will, or if you are being accused of fraud in a New York City will, the first thing you should do is contact a New York City estate attorney. Fraud is a tricky ground to deal with – usually no one else was in the room if the fraud did occur, so attorneys have no choice but to rely on circumstantial evidence, meaning that you need skilled legal counsel on your side to get the best outcome. Call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.