Fraud and Forgery of a Will
Fraud does occur in relation to wills and codicils and, if fraud is proven, the will or codicil may not be admitted to probate. Common types of will fraud include:
Forgery of a will
This usually involves:
- someone tracing or forging a person’s signature on a will;
- pages of a will being removed and/or substituted to change the contents;
- amendments being made to a will after it has been signed, without the knowledge or consent of the person making the will (known as the testator);
If the signature on a will doesn’t reflect the testator’s usual signature, this might indicate that the signature has been forged. However, not all changes to a signature are an indication of forgery. Signatures might also be affected by ill health or they may change over time.
Missing page numbers, different fonts or varying margins appearing in a will or codicil can indicate that pages have been substituted and/or replaced.
It’s also possible for a testator to unwittingly sign a piece of paper (or even a will), only for text to later be added to the document which the testator has no knowledge of and does not approve.
‘Fraudulent calumny’ involves a beneficiary making false representations to a testator about the character or conduct of another potential beneficiary, in order to persuade the testator to change their will.
For example, A and B are beneficences of C’s will. Person A lies to C that person B has stolen from them and person C excludes person B from their will as a result. This type of fraud is often referred to as a “poisoning of the mind” (see also our page on Contesting a Will – Testamentary Capacity).
Destruction of a will
If someone deliberate destroys a will or codicil to ensure that a testator died intestate (without a will) or allow an earlier will or codicil to be admitted to probate, that is fraud.
If there are any unusual circumstances surrounding the preparation or execution (signing) of a will, you may wish to investigate this further.
We can provide advice about fraud involving wills and estates.
We offer an initial free 30 minute telephone consultation.