Are you the victim of Florida probate fraud? What is probate fraud ? If you are a beneficiary of a will or trust, or a probate, and you believe that you are victim of probate fraud, consider your rights.
When a prospective client calls our probate litigation law firm in West Palm Beach, and complains about “fraud”, these complaints usually fall into a few categories. One, there may be an allegation of undue influence regarding a will or trust, or codicil to a will, or trust amendment or restatement of trust. Were you dis-inherited from your parent’s estate plan by a brother or sister who you do not get along with ? Were you cut out of your parent’s estate plan? Remember that undue influence is a species of, or a form of, fraud. Undue influence is a common allegation to try to set aside a will or trust, and is often described as over-persuasion, force, or coercion. Did someone lie to your mother or father about something? Did they force, or really put a lot of pressure on, them to sign a new will, or create a new trust, or transfer some real estate, or “put” someone’s name on a bank account? Such pressure or force or intimidation may act as a basis to void a will in Florida, or otherwise set aside a will or trust document. Likewise, if someone was forced to sign a deed, or “give over” a bank account, those acts may be set aside if they were the product of undue influence. But you have to file a petition in a Florida probate, or a lawsuit regarding a trust, or bank account, lifetime gift or inter vivos transfer. The legal rationale behind an undue influence lawsuit in Florida is that a will or trust was not really voluntarily signed by your mom or dad: that, rather, the new will or trust which dis-inherits you was the product of, and was orchestrated by, another, such as a sibling that you don’t get along with or who is jealous of you.
A second type of probate fraud which prospective clients call about relates to how much money should be in the estate or trust–but isn’t. Specifically, many family members who are probate or estate or trust beneficiaries, call, not to complain about being cut out of an inheritance, but to complain that there is no money to inherit–because it was taken by fraud. Similarly, family members who are co-beneficiaries, of, say, a mother’s or father’s revocable trust, may call to explain that they inherit 1/2 of the trust or estate: but that their “bad brother trustee,” or “bad sister trustee,” stole a lot of the money which should be in the estate or trust. Was money taken by a trustee or brother or sister which belongs in the Florida probate or trust? Undue influence and fraud may be a legal basis to set aside, or void, not only a will or Florida trust document, but also a basis to overturn a supposed gift or deed or transfer. Ask your Florida probate litigation law firm where the money went, where it is now, and how you may get it back.
Finally, another form of probate fraud which Florida estate lawyers run across is the “material non-disclosure” type. This may be referred to as constructive fraud: where a someone is supposed to tell you about something, but purposefully does not. If there is $5 Million transferred from mom or dad’s probate to his family trust, you may believe that there is a lot of money to inherit. Except that you learn that over the course of three years, the trust is now down to $2 Million. Your trustee did not provide an accounting to you, and did not tell you about the trustee fees, and legal fees, which she incurred. Or, perhaps your trustee did not disclose to you distributions made to other beneficiaries, or investment losses incurred in the trust portfolio. When a fiduciary is supposed to tell you something, but does not, this may be a form of fraud.