There are a number of grounds in which a Will can be contested, such as when it is suspected that the Will has been forged. If it can be proved in court that a Will in its entirety has been forged, this will result in it being declared invalid, state Curry Popeck Solicitors.
In this case, Valerie Watts, died in a hospice in 2011, aged 71. She was survived by her two adopted non-sibling adult children, Christine Watts and Gary Watts.
Valerie had made a Will in 1999 dividing her entire estate equally between her adopted children. Gary subsequently claimed Valerie signed a Will dated 12 January 2011 written out by hand by Valerie’s sister, using a shop-bought will form. The Will, which left everything to Gary and disinherited Christine, appeared to have been signed by his mother, as well as her sister and hospital nurse, Jackie Brown, as witnesses.
Gary claimed that he was far closer to his mother and Christine was not. He would visit her every day in hospital but Christine, who lived some distance away, rarely did.
Angered by this, Christine challenged the 2011 Will and made a claim for financial provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the 1975 Act).
Christine obtained expert evidence in relation to Valerie’s signature. The evidence of the witnesses in this scenario was crucial and Nurse Brown’s statement proved to be a major deciding factor in this case.
At trial, Gary admitted misleading Nurse Brown regarding the document she was witnessing. Also, Nurse Brown said that she did not see Valerie sign the paper, but did see Gary sign it.
The judge said, “I accept the evidence of Nurse Brown that she did not see Valerie sign the paper and that she did see Mr Watts sign it.” He further said, “I find that Gary signed it, not Valerie, and he simulated his mother’s signature on it.”
After carefully considering all the factors, the judge found in favour of Christine and determined Gary had forged Valerie’s signature, thus pronouncing in favour of Valerie Watts’s 1999 will, which split her estate equally between her adopted children.
The daughter received £100,000 share of the estate after a judge ruled her brother faked their mother’s signature on the paperwork as she lay dying from cancer on a hospital ward.
Will forgery cases rely greatly on the testimony of handwriting experts who help find discrepancies between the signature on the Will and the actual signature of the deceased, advise the solicitors at Curry Popeck. Also, showing that the Will contradicts wishes expressed by the deceased can also be usefulevidence in such cases.
An unfortunate aspect ofWill forgery cases is that the fraudsters may still receive a share of the estate if they are related to the deceased.
If you have any questions regarding the issues raised in the article, or want expert legal advice from Curry Popeck law firm’s experienced solicitors like Lionel Curry, visit Curry Popeck at- http://www.currypopeck.com/
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