What can I do if I think a will is a forgery?

Published 30 Oct 2015

It is always a difficult period when you lose a member of your family or close friend. However, this pain and suffering can be extended if you believe that the will is fake or a forgery.

In many cases, the possibility of the will being false will come after the estate allocation. Perhaps there are a number of differences to the will that you had read previously or several parties are present on the will that weren’t originally in the deceased’s thought process. Of course, there are many ways that a will can be forged or false – here are three examples:

  • Testator tricked into making false statements
  • Testator tricked into signing a falsified will
  • Fake signature on will

What can you do in this situation?

If you believe that a will or estate document is a fraud or has been forged in any way, the responsibility lies with you to prove the case. Without any tangible evidence, this can be tricky and even if you are successful, another version of the document will need to be found to avoid a declaration intestacy.

A common claim for contesting a will is a fake signature. While this is an artform that can be mastered with practice, an expert handwriting witness should be able to tell the difference between the deceased’s and the version forged on the will.

These cases are notoriously difficult, which is why it is important to talk to an expert legal professional about the situation. A lawyer can provide their opinion on your claim and suggest avenues to validate it.

Forger caught in the UK

A great example of this process in action was seen last year in the United Kingdom.

In 2011, Valerie Watts died in St Thomas’ Hospital in London after suffering from cancer. On reading her will, the entire £200,000 (AUD $417,000) estate was granted to her son Gary. This left daughter Christine with nothing and she subsequently challenged the will in court.

After testimony from one of the nurses at Ms Watt’s bedside, it was discovered that Gary had forged the signature of his mother to transfer the entire estate to himself with the nurse as a witness. As a result of this revelation, Judge Catherine Newman QC rejected the 2011 will and the estate reverted back to a 1999 version which included provisions for both parties.

For more information about claiming against a forged will, contact our expert contesting estate lawyers today.

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