Simon Steele-Williams litigation solicitor

Challenging A Will...Beware Of Forgery3rd Mar 2015

by on 3rd Mar 2015

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contested wills solicitor Simon Steele-Williams

Forgery of wills is rare but families should always remain vigilant, warn solicitors at Coles Miller after a recent court case.

The case in Worcester - in which a woman and her ex-husband received suspended prison sentences for forging her dying partner’s will - highlights the importance of being wary.

Coles Miller Partner Simon Steele-Williams, a contested wills specialist, said: “Wills are important legal documents with significant ramifications but you should not accept them blindly at face value.

“If there is anything about a will that makes you suspicious, you should get expert legal advice immediately.”

Reasons for suspicion can include the signatures of the testator (the person making the will) and the witnesses. Do they look wrong?

Or is the testator’s signature ‘too perfect’? It might look precisely how the person might have signed their will many decades ago but their real signature could have changed over the years as their handwriting and eyesight deteriorated with old age.

Do important dates tally? Was the will supposedly ‘signed’ on a date when the testator and the witnesses could not possibly have all been at the same place at the same time?

There are also other reasons to dispute a will:

  • Capacity - was the testator in full possession of their mental faculties when they made or changed their will?
  • Undue influence - was someone (such as a carer, friend or distant family member) overly persuasive or even coercive? Did they make the testator change their will?
  • Lack of knowledge and approval - did the testator make or change their will without knowing what they were signing?
  • Execution - the will was not executed properly, the legal paperwork was not correct.

“Capacity and undue influence tend to be the main reasons for challenging a will but families should always be mindful of the other factors that can affect its legality,” said Mr Steele-Williams.  

Are you worried about a suspicious-looking will? Or are you concerned that your legitimate will may be contested unreasonably? For expert help, contact Coles Miller Partner Simon Steele-Williams, 01202 355697.

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