A British woman who faked a will that she claimed her dead husband had written has been slammed for her “ridiculous” plot to receive a larger proportion of his estate.
Marsha Henderson married retired London bus conductor Newton Davies in 2004. After his death in 2013, Ms Henderson discovered her husband had left her just £25,000 from his £600,000 estate and decided to forge a new will bequeathing herself £550,000 of his fortune.
The deceased’s estate
Judge Nigel Gerald heard that Mr Davies had a mortgage-free home in Harrow Road, London, when he passed away, as well as £100,000 in cash. His loved ones were said to be shocked when he married Ms Henderson, who was 50 years his junior and the daughter of a friend.
According to Judge Gerald, Ms Henderson “concocted” a forged will and an unlikely back story, claiming that she found the document hidden in a Doritos packet in the attic of her deceased husband’s home.
Mr Davies had signed a will in 2011, which left £430,000 to his only daughter from his first marriage. A further £150,000 was going to be given to an old friend.
Upon learning she would only receive £25,000, Ms Henderson produced a rival document dated just four months after the original – leaving herself the majority of his wealth.
A ‘crude’ forgery
The Mirror newspaper reported that Judge Gerald described it as a crude forgery that contained a number of errors, including the will writer describing themself as a woman even though the deceased was male. A handwriting expert also disputed the authenticity of the signature.
“It will obviously strike anybody as being somewhat eccentric to put an important document such as a will into a Doritos bag, but there are eccentric people in this world,” Judge Gerald explained.
“So that, of itself, does not cause me to be disbelieving, although it does cause me to consider how a man in his early 80s, who according to [a friend of his who gave evidence] does not eat Doritos, would put this document into an empty Doritos bag and then put it in the loft.”
The original will was admitted into probate, meaning the deceased’s daughter will receive most of the estate.
Forged wills in NSW
Fortunately, forged wills are rare, but if you suspect a document of being faked, you can contest the estate.
Not all forgeries are as easy to spot as the case described above, which is why fraudulent behaviour can be difficult to prove if your case makes it to court.
If you would like to know more about contesting a will, please get in touch with Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers.