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Fake will case shows importance of estate planning

Most people here in Texas don't enjoy thinking about the end of their lives, but it is an important subject to consider. Some assume that if they are young, they don't need to worry about writing a will or estate planning, but that is untrue. Those who don't have a comprehensive estate plan may not have their assets and property distributed in accordance with their wishes, and their children may not be cared for by people of their choosing. In some cases, people may even attempt to make a fraudulent claim on a person's estate. One such case went on for several years after four people attempted to submit a fake will to claim a large inheritance that didn't belong to them.

Several years ago, a man who suffered injuries in the famous Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion received a multi-million dollar settlement. He met a woman who worked as a real estate agent, who helped him purchase multiple properties. Eventually, the man joined the business of the real estate agent's husband and even began dating their daughter. The man ended up dying in a car accident and leaving behind an underage son from a previous relationship. His brother and son both searched for a will, but never found one.

The real estate agent claimed she found a will that left the bulk of the man's estate to the real estate agent's daughter, his former girlfriend, and only $50,000 to his son. The real estate agent's sister and brother-in-law signed the will, which the courts eventually concluded to be fake. The agent, sister, brother-in-law and daughter all pleaded guilty to various crimes relating to the fake will, including wire fraud and lying to the FBI. Two have been sentenced and two still await sentencing.

Though this case is an unusual one, it points out just how imperative it is that people make sure they have a will and thorough estate plan. Those here in Texas who are unsure of the process may want to talk with an estate planning attorney. Doing so can offer peace of mind that their final wishes will be honored and their loved ones cared for.

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