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Did Wicked Stepmother File a Fake Will?

Wicked stepmotherThere is nothing new about children of a deceased millionaire fighting with a step-parent over the estate. A case in New York, however, is a bit unusual in some aspects.

Along with a $10 million estate, Dr. Nathaniel Shafer left behind a feud between his wife and his two adult children by a different marriage. His will left the entire estate to the wife and her child by a different marriage.

Problem: Jennifer and Robert Shafer, the children from a previous marriage, are claiming that their stepmother filed a fake will.  They want the court to throw that will out and to use an earlier will that leaves half of the estate to them. To prove their claim, the Shafer siblings are asking the court to waive a doctor-patient privilege so a therapist the couple saw can testify about their relationship.

The New York Post reported this story in an article titled "Siblings claim stepmom filed fake will to get $10M inheritance." Claims of fake wills are not quite as common as claims of using undue influence to have someone create a new will. That might be because wills are not particularly easy to fake. It is not quite as simple as merely forging the deceased's signature. Wills require witnesses for a reason: so they can be called to testify that they did in fact see the deceased sign the will.

The original article does not explain how the siblings plan to get around the witness issue, if the witnesses are able to testify that they saw Shafer sign the will that was filed with the court. As is often the case, there may be more to this than meets the eye.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: estate planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.  However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project.  Why not call us for a complimentary consultation at 757-259-0707.  

Reference: New York Post (August 28, 2015) "Siblings claim stepmom filed fake will to get $10M inheritance."

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