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Will Fraud : Disputing wills

Fraudulent will cases

Sadly we are now seeing an increase in the number of suspected fraudulent will cases.

Typically, fraud wills arise in the following circumstances :-

  • When the original will may have been deliberately destroyed
  • The signature on the will is not that of the Testator ( the person making the will )
  • When the will was not actually signed in the presence of both witnesses
  • When a Deceased is tricked into signing a document not knowing that it was a will

The Burden of proof in a Fraudulent will case

As with Undue influence the burden of proving fraud can be very high and therefore expert evidence is often required for example by a calligrapher (a handwriting expert) in order to support an allegation of fraud. The reason for this is simply that a will is signed, dated and witnessed - there is what is known as a presumption of due execution. This means that unless there is strong evidence to rebut the presumption the will is valid

Are Fraudulent wills common ? - common features

Sadly we are seeing more cases of wills that have a fraudulent element, and are presently acting in several cases in cases in which the wills are alleged to have been forged or there are issues relating to the Deceased's signature. We often find very typical features when dealing with such cases which often include the following factors :-

  • When the original will may have been deliberately destroyed
  • The signature on the will is not that of the Testator
  • When the will was not actually signed in the presence of both witnesses
  • When a Deceased is tricked into signing a document not knowing that it was a will
  • The will being altered by the deceased whilst in Hospital
  • The use of a DIY will
  • Issues surrounding the signing of the will eg. have both witnesses been present ?
  • When the will represents a major departure from a previous will eg. old will leaves everything to family - new will leaves everything to carer
  • If the Deceased was largely dependant upon a carer
  • Gifts made to the beneficiary prior to death
  • When a DIY will is used instead of a solicitor
  • When the witnesses are friends of the sole beneficiary
  • The use of a power of attorney prior to death to spend the deceased's assets
  • Are you concerned about a will ? call our helpline today for further help and guidance.

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