Challenging The Validity Of A Will – Fraud & Forgery

Challenging Will Assassin Testator

The validity of a Will can be challenged on many grounds, including when:

  • The deceased lacked the required mental capacity;
  • The deceased did not have sufficient knowledge of, and approve, of the Will and its contents;
  • The deceased did not make the Will of their own free will;
  • The Will does not reflect the deceased’s intention due to clerical error or failure to understand the deceased’s intentions by the solicitor or Will writer;
  • The Will was forged or fraudulently prepared.

Fraud and forgery

A claim can be made to challenge the validity of a Will on the grounds of fraud or forgery. Examples of fraud and forgery include:

  • A forged signature.
  • The deceased not knowing that what they had signed was a Will.
  • The signing of the Will was not witnessed.

Establishing fraud or forgery to challenge the validity of Will requires a strong amount of evidence. This was illustrated in the case Patel v Patel & Ors.

Patel v Patel & Ors [2017] EWHC 1588 (Ch)

Background

In this case, Yashwant Patel, was named the sole executor and beneficiary of his mother’s estate. His brother, Girish, made a claim for a grant of probate for a later Will which named him as the sole executor and beneficiary. Yashwant, challenged this, claiming Girish fraudulently prepared the later Will naming himself as sole executor and beneficiary.

Issue: Did Girish Patel forge the Will naming himself as sole executor and beneficiary?

Evidence: To prove that Girish forged the Will naming himself as sole executor and beneficiary, expert handwriting and forensic document analysis was required. Only with this evidence was it able to be established that Girish forged the signature by placing a pre-existing signature of his mother on the Will.

Held: It was held that Girish forged the signature of his mother on the later Will. As a result, the Will was deemed invalid.

Comment

Challenging a Will on this ground can be difficult because of the high standard of evidence required to establish fraud or forgery took place. Although there is no time limit to challenge the validity of a Will on this ground, it is recommended that you seek legal advice as early as possible to prevent the administration of the estate in accordance with the Will in question.

How can Nelsons help?Fraud And Forgery Will

Amrik Basra is a Trainee Solicitor in our Private Litigation team.

At Nelsons, our team specialises in these types of disputes and includes members of The Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS). The team is also recommended by the independently researched publication, The Legal 500, as one of the top teams of specialists in the country.

If you have concerns about the validity of a Will, please contact Amrik or a member of our expert Dispute Resolution team in DerbyLeicester, or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.

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