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How hard is it for a person to change or forge a will after the death of a person in NJ

Livingston, NJ |

Family members are speculating the the spouse of the person who passed away..is stalling because they are trying to change or forge a will. How difficult is it to do this? Would this be easy for them to do?

Also is it uncommon for a sick person to name the lawyer they used to draft the will as the executor?

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

It is very common for a client to name the lawyer as executor. The executor needs to be a disinterested third party and be at least somewhat familiar with the process. The lawyer meets those criteria and will be happy to do the work, which he gets paid for.

I can't tell you how difficult it is to forge documents. You would need to ask a forger, who is a criminal. I would imagine that it depends on how skilled the forger is...

This posting is just general legal INFORMATION and not legal ADVICE. Only your attorney can provide legal advice. If you would like actual advice about your particular case, please contact me for a consultation.

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Posted

The spouse would have to prepare a new will, forge the decedent's signature and find two witnesses to participate in the fraud or forge their signatures as well. If the will is presented for probate, the next of kin will receive notice. Anyone who believes it is a fraud will have the opportunity to contest the validity of the will, which would include having the witnesses to the will testify regarding its execution. So, forging a will is not an easy thing to get away with.

This information is not intended, and should not be construed, as legal advice. I encourage those with questions to consult an attorney of their choice for guidance.

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1 comment

Lawrence A Friedman

Lawrence A Friedman

Posted

It's a snap to forge a will, but as Andrew says, it's very hard to get away with the forgery. However, to contest a forgery could be expensive since handwriting experts could be needed. BTW, forging a will would be a serious crime.

Posted

First off, I'm not sure if it is any harder to forge a will before or after someone dies. That being said, if you are concerned about the validity of a will submitted for probate, you should retain local probate litigation counsel. You will have to contest its validity in the courts. I have great doubt that such a forgery will be easy to get away with. In the case of a will contest, the witnesses to the will are called to testify. If those signatures are forgeries, the witnesses should know.

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Posted

This appears to be a variation of a very similar question asked yesterday. The initial question I would have is whether it matters? If all of the assets are titled in joint names between husband and wife or if she is named as beneficiary, then none of the assets would be subject to the terms of a Will, in the first place. This is probably the most common estate plan that married couples use. Even if the Will said that she would get ZERO, she would still get EVERYTHING, in that case. If the assets were not joint, then the wife would still have certain rights and allowances and exemptions under State law that would allow her to take a considerable part of the estate.

What is it that makes "family members" think that the decedent would try to leave a Will that cuts the wife out? That might help us to get a better idea what is going on, here. Otherwise, I would assume that none of the family members would be entitled to anything, Will or otherwise.

James Frederick

*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.

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2 comments

Martin L Bearg

Martin L Bearg

Posted

I had the very situation several years ago of which Mr. Frederick speaks. A very fancy will not worth the paper it was written on (I did not draft it) as everything was owned jointly. IF this is a second marriage, theen the issue of how gets what may be a critical issue, but as noted yesterday or several days ago, a will need not be probated, and cannot be probated for 10 days following the date of death. This is not "stalling," it is the law. Second, there is no time frame, other than having someone appointed executor to pay bills, in which a will must be probated.

Martin L Bearg

Martin L Bearg

Posted

I apologize, my last statementt is not exactlly correct. IF assets exceed $675,000, a NJ Estate Tax Return must be filed within 9 months of the date of death, which must be signed by the executor. If all assets go to the Class A beneficiaries (spouse, children and/or grandchildren, there is no NJ Inheritance Tax. If H died in 2012, there is no need to file a Federal Estate Tax Return if the estate is less than $5.12 million.

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