News

Firm Announcements and Legal Updates

Contesting A Will On The Grounds of Forgery

When the time comes for someone’s will to be executed, it pays to check everything thoroughly, just in case there might be some grounds to suspect that there is a problem with the will, and that it could be contested.

One reason for choosing to contest a will is if you think that it might be a forgery. If it can be proved that the will is forged completely, or even that the signature has been forged, then the entire will will be considered invalid.

Of course, evidence will be required in order to prove that the will is a forgery. There is a standard of proof required when disputing a will, and it is looked at on the balance of probabilities. If you can prove your case with a 50.1% probability (or more) then you will win it. However, because forgery is a type of fraud, there is a higher level of proof needed – you cannot start a case against the validity of the will if you don’t have very strong evidence.

One way to attempt to prove that a will is forged – or at least the signature is forged – is to contact a handwriting expert. They will produce a report about the validity of the will, but they will need at least 10 (more is better) signatures to compare it to. They should be original, and these can be difficult to find.

If the handwriting expert concludes that the will is valid, or that it is an inconclusive result, then it is unlikely that the claim for forgery will succeed. And even if the handwriting expert does think that there is a problem with the will, other factual evidence needs to be considered, and if anything contradicts the forgery idea, then there will probably be nice case to answer.

If, however, the court does find that a will has been forged, then the will will become invalid. If there is no earlier – valid – will, then the estate won’t be distributed via the terms of the will; it will be distributed through the intestacy rules instead.