Someone you love recently died, and that would be hard enough to handle on its own. However, you have started to have serious doubts about the validity of their estate plan.
If you and the rest of your family felt surprised to learn that a loved one had left behind an electronic last will instead of physical documents, you may have questions about the validity of those documents. Does the use of a virtual estate plan instead of a physical one give you reason to challenge the last will or estate plan as possibly fraudulent?
Electronic documents are easier for someone to falsify
Electronic estate plans have become popular in recent years. They are easy to store and easy to share with others, requiring only a few seconds to attach and send to someone as an email or to upload to a secure document-sharing service.
It can be expensive and time-consuming to physically copy and share someone’s last will or estate plan, especially if it is a detailed plan. Electronic documents also get rid of the obligation to travel or schedule an appointment to create an estate plan. All of those benefits gleaned from electronic last wills, however, pale in comparison to the risks of electronic estate planning.
First of all, people can make big mistakes with the documents if they don’t have professional help. Second of all, people may make the documents without a notary or lawyer present. Those concerned about self-created and unwitnessed digital estate documents may have grounds to contest them.
Do the documents favor one person or contradict someone’s earlier plans?
Simply having electronic estate planning documents doesn’t necessarily mean there’s reason to suspect fraud. However, if the estate plan itself seems questionable or contrary to someone’s previously stated wishes, digital documents could be cause for concern.
One person might create a completely false set of documents that gives them more property than their siblings or that undoes their disinheritance. If you have copies of the previous estate plan, that could help you build a case regarding potential fraud with the digital documents.
Identifying concerns about someone’s estate plan can give you reason to pursue probate litigation and protect the legacy of your deceased loved one.