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Fraud in Creation of a Will in New York

A last will and testament is a legal document that expresses a person's final wishes and how their assets should be distributed after their death. However, when fraud is involved in the creation of a will, the testator's true intentions may not be reflected. Fraudulent activities such as lying, misrepresenting, or manipulating the testator can result in an invalid will. In New York, a will can be invalidated due to fraud, among other reasons. In New York, if a will is found to have been fraudulent, it will be invalidated by a court in a will contest. Proving that fraud was involved in the creation of a will can be challenging, but with the help of an experienced New York will contest lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, it is possible to build a strong case.

Proving Fraud in a Will Contest

To prove fraud in the creation of a will, the party contesting the will must show that the testator was deceived or misled into signing the will. The following are some examples of fraudulent activities in the creation of a will:

  • Forged Signatures: The person creating the will could forge the testator's signature on the will or a related document, making it seem like the testator authorized something they didn't. Involving an experienced New York will contest lawyer in the will execution process will help prevent forged signatures and other types of fraud.
  • Misrepresentations: A person involved in the creation of the will could lie to the testator about the contents of the will, the value of the estate, or who the beneficiaries will be.
  • Undue Influence: A person could exert undue influence over the testator, pressuring them to make specific provisions or changes to their will.
  • Duress: Someone could force the testator to sign the will or threaten to harm them if they did not sign.

Proving fraud in the creation of a will is often a complex and challenging process. The party contesting the will must present evidence of the fraudulent activities and demonstrate how they influenced the testator's decisions. They must also provide evidence that the testator did not have full knowledge of what they were signing. The help of a skilled will contest attorney in New York is essential in building a case for fraud.

Notable New York Cases about Fraud in the Creation of a Will

Castor v. Pulaski, 985 N.Y.S.2d 380 (N.Y. App. Div. 2014). In this fraud action, plaintiff sought damages in connection with the probate of a fraudulent will. The decedent's wife, Castor, was convicted of murder and offering a false instrument for filing related to the purported will. Defendants, Lynn J. Pulaski and Paul W. Pulaski, witnessed the will posthumously and provided false affidavits. The court erroneously concluded that the "unique and novel circumstances" constituted extraordinary circumstances, allowing the heir, plaintiff, to maintain an independent cause of action. However, extraordinary circumstances must involve wrongdoing by the estate administrator, and none were present. The complaint against defendants is dismissed without prejudice.

In re Petition to Admit Will Into Probate in the Estate of Stylianou, 2018 N.Y. Slip Op. 33145 (N.Y. Surr. Ct. 2018). In this probate proceeding, four nieces objected to the petition to probate a will dated May 12, 1993, alleging fraud, duress, and undue influence. The nieces claimed that the decedent and the proponent, her sister, engaged in past misconduct, including conspiracy to steal funds and cashing out social security checks. The court, however, found that the nieces failed to allege fraud with the requisite detail, did not identify individuals involved in undue influence or duress, and provided vague claims regarding the proponent's alleged unfitness. The court granted the proponent's motion to dismiss, stating that the nieces failed to plead elements justifying the invalidation of the will or the disqualification of the nominated fiduciary.Top of Form

Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you believe that a will was created through fraudulent activities, contact an experienced will contest attorney serving New York at Stephen Bilkis & Associates who can help you assess your legal options. We can review the circumstances surrounding the creation of the will and help you understand the best course of action. The law provides remedies for victims of fraud in the creation of a will, and with the right legal help, you can seek justice and ensure that the testator's true intentions are carried out. Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Long Island, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin