Falsified wills pose serious problems. When a will that has been forged or superseded by another legal document is submitted to the court, assets might be distributed to the wrong people. Thought courts have extensive experience reviewing testamentary documents and often can detect whether a will is falsified, these disputes do still occur.
For example, the widow of Philadelphia R&B star Teddy Pendergrass filed a lawsuit against the singer’s son, Teddy Pendergrass Jr., alleging that the son used a fake will to contest her late husband’s actual will. After the Philly Soul artist died in 2010, his will was immediately admitted to Montgomery County Pennsylvania Orphans Court for probate. The will specified that his entire estate should go to his wife. But instead of carrying out Pendergrass’s wishes by distributing the assets promptly to Joan, the probate process was held up for six years because Pendergrass Jr. sought to have the terms of what was determined to be a false will enforced.
In Pennsylvania, every will admitted to probate can be contested. Generally, these conflicts involve claims that the will was created or signed while the testator was under undue influence from another person or that the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand what was being created. These circumstances can be difficult to prove, but even in clear cases, the time and money needed to resolve will contests can be extensive.
A sound estate plan developed by a qualified attorney can avert family disputes and will contests. The estate planning attorneys at Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee, P.C. can help you avoid such legal disputes. If you are concerned that your assets might not be distributed to your rightful heirs during probate, call 412-471-0677 or contact us online to create an estate plan that will work as you intend.