Contesting a Will on Grounds of Fraud

What is ‘fraud’?

Fraud is defined as ‘an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual’. 

Fraud cases in contentious probate are rare as you need to prove a high degree of probability. Quite often people find an alternative route to challenge a Will, such as lack of knowledge or approval. 

Fraud is also a very serious allegation and should not be made lightly.

How can fraud arise?

Fraud in contentious probate can arise in the following circumstances: 

  • The signature on the Will is forged.
  • The original Will may have 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.
  • 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 fraud has taken place can often present significant difficulties for the party who is making the allegation. 

If someone has imitated the deceased and forged their signature it is possible to call a handwriting expert to give evidence. They would compare the signature on the Will with other examples of the testator’s signature and handwriting. If it is deemed that the signature is not the deceased’s, the Will is 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 with such challenges.