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The Will looks Fraudulent

Fraudulent – If you think that the deceased’s signature on their Will is not theirs, you may be able to challenge the Will on the basis of it being forged.

It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you believe that a signature on a Will has been forged. Time is of the essence in this situation as the executor of the Will may be in the process of applying for a grant of probate of the Will and distribution of the deceased’s Estate to the beneficiaries named in the forged Will.

How do I prove the deceased’s signature on the Will was forged?

When a Will is challenged on the grounds that the signature of the deceased was a forgery the main method used to prove forgery is having a handwriting expert compare the signature on the Will to samples of the deceased’s signature prior to the date the Will was executed.

What if I can’t positively prove the deceased’s signature on the Will was forged?

According to the New South Wales Court of Appeal it is not necessary to show that the Will was the result of fraud but that it was enough that suspicion attached to the execution of the document. In essence, the Court can refuse to grant probate to a Will alleged to be forged where they are not satisfied that the signature was that of the deceased but there was not enough evidence to support a finding of forgery.

A recent Supreme Court case has confirmed this principle. In this recent decision the document said to be the deceased’s Will had been written by a friend of the deceased and allegedly signed by the deceased. However, the handwriting experts identified dissimilarities between the deceased’s alleged signature on the Will and specimen signatures of the deceased.

The Court did not find that there was enough evidence to prove that the signature on the alleged Will was a forgery. However, the circumstances surrounding the making of the Will and the dissimilarities between the deceased’s usual signature and that on the Will were suspicious and those suspicions had not been allayed. On the basis of those suspicions the Court refused to grant probate to the alleged Will.

What do I need to do if I want to challenge a Will because I think the deceased’s signature is forged?

You need to speak to an expert Wills and Estate lawyer as soon as possible.

Graeme Heckenberg is an expert Wills and Estate lawyer.

Call today for a an appointment closer to home on 9221 0341

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