Sadly forging a will in California probate and other probate court fraud does happen. No, I do not know of any specific situations but it happens. Sadly, the laws are sort of loose.

For example, did you know you don’t need a death certificate to file for probate? Why is that?  It seems to me a certified copy of a will should be required to file for probate. Otherwise, the ability to commit fraud is too easy.

However, this is not about that type of fraud. Today’s post is about an article I saw out of Utah.  A man tried to forge his wife’s will and was CAUGHT!  He’s now facing CRIMINAL CHARGES. Yes, remember doing stuff like fraud and forgeries is a CRIME… even in California! Here’s a link to that article if you want to read about it.

The problem is a will, in California, is simply a typed out document with the testator’s signature along with two witnesses… or ONE fraudster signing all 3!  Or, it can be a will written, signed and dated by the testator… or one fraudster doing all of that. Unfortunately the laws aren’t perfect.

The ability to commit fraud is there. As an attorney I certainly try to ascertain that things are on the up and up… but I am not a mind reader and neither is the probate Judge. Most lawyers are honest and would try to stop fraud if they knew but rarely will we know.

-John Palley

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