Florida Probate Fraud
What is Florida Probate Fraud? What can you do to protect yourself once you have discovered it? To read Florida Probate Law Commentary on Overturning a Will Based Upon Fraud, CLICK HERE. To read more about this estate topic, continue reading.
Fraud in Florida
Fraud is a cause of action in Florida legal proceedings. “Generally, if something is caused by fraud, it is void” says probate litigator John Pankauski, who wrote a Probate Litigation Guide. He wrote about 10 common probate mistakes. We recently provided commentary on Fraud on the Court in Florida. That is not what we are talking about here. “When you speak about Florida Probate Fraud” continues Pankauski, “most people think about two things.” First, a will or trust caused by fraud is void. Read Florida Probate Law 732.5165. Second, if a trustee or executor is hiding or stealing assets, that is fraud. Whether you can sue for Civil Theft or Breach of Fiduciary Duty depends on your facts. “And” Pankauski points out “it depends on the type of fraud, too.” Yes, there are different types of fraud in Florida. “Knowing what type of fraud occurred is important” says Pankauski. And that will help you understand how to exercise your rights when you face Florida Probate Fraud. (To read more about Inheritance Theft, CLICK THIS LINK.)
Exercising Your Rights
If you believe that a will or trust was caused by a lie or undue influence, you need to ask a judge to make that ruling. You can file a Petition to Revoke Probate if a fraudulent will was presented to the Court. In that case, Pankauski recommends answering the Petition for Administration. He also suggests filing your own Petition or Counter Claim. In that court filing, you can ask the Court to rule the will is void based upon fraud. Remember, undue influence is a species, or kind, of fraud. There are Florida Probate Laws about the burden of proof + presumption of undue influence. If a Florida Executor, or Personal Representative, is lying about what she did with your inheritance, object. The law does not help those who remain silent. Florida Probate Law helps those who exercise their rights. That means that you have to object to the Estate Inventory. Or, object to the Estate Accounting. It may also make sense to go on the offense, and file your own Petition or civil lawsuit.