Probate Investigations | Fraudulent Wills | Atlanta, GA
A will, originated from an online legal website, is presented to a probate court naming a part-time caregiver as sole beneficiary of a small estate. The will is dated near the time the caregiver began her duties and the decedent’s signature appears authentic. The judge in the rural Georgia County has never been to law school. Georgia doesn’t require probate judges in counties with small populations (less than 96,000) to have a law degree. Hiring an attorney, even on a contingency basis, could drain the estate’s value. The convincing caregiver claims the decedent initiated the will’s terms, and voiced concerns over his family. The family fears the suspected fraudulent will won’t be seriously questioned. They wonder how many fraudulent wills have made their way through the court system.
A once savvy business man commits suicide after a long battle with depression and alcoholism. He was once owned several companies, had investments and commanded the respect of the community where he and his wife lived. His wife knew their financial status was not what it once was. Late notices were coming in the mail, and their once paid for home is now mortgaged. Enter the rumors of an extra marital affair. If true, is that where their money had gone? An insurance policy she thought was in effect had expired, as the premiums were not maintained. There was barely enough money to pay for the funeral.
In our first scenario, a questionable document examiner could help validate or disqualify the signature on the will. Is the caregiver being truthful? A professional interviewer, skilled in truth detection methods, could help the court make an informed decision. A background on the caregiver may reveal similar beneficiary claims or past criminal convictions. Perhaps computer forensics can come into play, revealing the will was not downloaded from the decedent’s computer.
In the sad scenario of our widow, a records review does show the husband provided a lot of money to a mistress; however, our probate investigator had another unique tool. A financial asset search revealed an unknown investment brokerage account the husband had not tampered with. The balance in the account was enough to pay the mortgage.
In the described cases, probate investigations would serve both families and hopefully provide some closure. There is still, however, the issue of cost for these services. Most probate attorneys will offer a free consultation, and provide you with a clear understanding of what can be a very complex path. Additionally, probate investigators can be a total game changer, surprisingly affordable and provide evidence of suspected fraudulent wills. While there is no guarantee of a favorable outcome, probate investigations can add clarity to a confusing situation.