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What Is A Fraudulent Will?

There are many ways in which a Will can be fraudulent. However the onus is on you to prove it to be a fraudulent Will and this is not always an easy process. Here are a few examples of how a Will can be considered to be a fraud by a court with the necessary evidence:

  • A Will with an altered signature.
  • The Will was not actually signed in the presence of both witnesses.
  • Someone is tricked into signing a document not knowing it was a Will.
  • A previous Will has been deliberately destroyed.
  • In some circumstances a Will representing a major departure from a previous Will, such as the old one leaving everything to family and the new one leaving everything to a carer. However, this alone does not mean it is a fraud – evidence will be needed, to prove on the balance of probability, it was made fraudulently and this can be difficult to prove.

We can help, call us on 01935 823883

Challenging A Fraudulent Will

How do you prove a Will is fraudulent?

As with undue influence, the burden of proof is with the person contesting it, which means you have to prove it was made fraudulently. The reason for this is simply that if the rules have been followed and a will is signed, dated and witnessed, this is known as a "presumption of due execution", which means unless there is strong evidence to the contrary, the presumption is that the Will is valid. This means to prove otherwise, you may need expert evidence, for example, from a Calligrapher (a hand-writing expert), to show a signature is a fake. The Will witnesses may need to be interviewed to testify to the Will not being signed in front of both of them. It is not an easy route to take, but it is one that can be successful with the right legal team on your side.

What are your next steps?

If you are in this situation and would like to speak to someone who understands this area of law, and has knowledge of the types of expert who may be needed, give Routh Clarke a call for a non-obligatory discussion and we’re sure we can help you work out your next steps.

See our other pages on Contesting Wills

  • Undue influence - this is when the person making the Will is pressurised to make or change their Will.
  • Invalid Wills - all Wills must comply with the Wills Act, meaning they must be in writing, signed and dated at the same time as being witnessed by two independent witnesses, who are not beneficiaries. If any of these rules are not complied with the will is invalid and fails.
  • Lack of capacity to make a Will - the person making the will must have the mental capacity to make it. In other words they must be able to appreciate and understand what effect their Will might have on their estate, meaning they must be able to comprehend the extent of their estate and be thoughtful of the claims that could be made on it. These principals were first established in a very old case called Banks v Goodfellow in 1870, but the judgement still holds fast today. Will disputes are now more frequent when the person making the will (known as testator ) may have been suffering from a form of dementia.
  • Claims for financial maintenance – If you are in some way financially dependent on the deceased and have not been provided for in their Will, you can make a claim under the Inheritance Act 1975. However, there is only a limited time period to do this, 6 months from the date of the Grant of Probate.

If you believe a Will is a fraud, call us now on 01935 823883