Can I contest a will on the grounds of fraud?
What is will fraud?
Fraud is defined as ‘an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual’.
Fraudulent wills are rare. It is usuallly difficult to prove will fraud as it requires very persuasive evidence. Quite often people find an alternative route to challenge a will where will fraud is suspected, such as lack of knowledge or approval.
Will fraud is a very serious allegation and should not be made lightly.
How can will fraud arise?
Will fraud can arise where:
- The signature on the will is forged;
- The original will has been deliberately destroyed;
- The will was not signed in the presence of both witnesses;
- The deceased is tricked into signing a document without knowing that it is a will; and
- False representations are made about someone else so that the deceased either writes them in or out of the will.
Evidence of fraud
Proving that will fraud has taken place can often present significant difficulties.
If someone has imitated the deceased and forged their signature it may be possible to call a handwriting expert to give evidence. Such an expert can compare the signature on the will with other examples of the testator’s signature and handwriting. If acourt is satisfied that the signature is not the deceased’s, the will is likely to be declared invalid and any previous will (or the intestacy rules) shall apply.
However, handwriting analysis is not an exact science and there is a high degree of risk associated with such challenges.
How we can help
If you require further guidance on whether you can contest a will on the grounds of fraud then contact our free legal helpline on 0808 139 1596 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org