What to Do If a Will is Fraudulent

What would you do if a family member’s will is fraudulent? Fact is, this is an upsetting time for all the friends and family who knew them. Often, the Will they leave behind is the last thing on someone’s mind. People are still grieving over the death of a family member, after all.

However, there will be times when suspicions arise over the validity of a will, as it’s possible that a will is fraudulent.

Unfortunately, you must act quickly to determine if this is, in fact, the case. Concurrently, a longer wait may result in less closure and more financial turmoil. During this difficult time, there are some tips you can follow to ensure the claim goes much smoother.

Sound out your suspicions

If a will is fraudulent, then it may not just be you who has their suspicions. Some of these wills are often completely valid but without expectation. But estimates on the cost of probate fraud lie somewhere between £100-150 million.

It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that fraudulent cases do occur. Yet it still helps to confirm your suspicions with others first before assessing whether you can make a valid claim. Make sure you are taking note of warning signs above all. Because when emotions are running high, it’s easy to become suspicious of anyone and everything.

For this reason, you’ll need to make a distinction. Then, you must decide if there is enough proof to contest the will. Without it, you may struggle to get a solicitor on board to take the matter further.

Find legal support for your case

For any case involving a fraudulent will, it always helps having a solicitor on hand to help you determine whether your case is viable. If it is, they will then act as a vital form of emotional and legal support during an already stressful time. They will also provide necessary resources to launch an investigation into the will, which you may not have at your disposal otherwise.

Searching for the right solicitor can be stressful in and of itself, but you can streamline the process by looking at online platforms to find the right one. This solicitor will have a great understanding of the burden of this kind of claim, and should act in your best interests to make sure your case has the best chance of winning.

Take legal action if a will is fraudulent

When it comes to fraudulent wills, the cases are not as simple as in any other circumstance. If someone is found guilty, they are liable to face criminal charges of fraud and could face prison time.

So, even after your solicitor determines a will is, in fact, fraudulent, a legal action might still be necessary. This is when involving the police becomes paramount. The fraudulent person needs to be brought up for committing a serious crime. This kind of legal process can become more daunting for family members still grieving. But it’s important that you receive proper closure and financial security by following this action through to the end.

Jail Time for Son-in-Law who Forged Will

A man gets 12 months in prison for his attempts at forging a will for his mother-in-law.

Brian Fairs, 77, is guilty of copying and pasting Gillian Williams’ signature, then forging a will to try and ensure a share of her £100,000 estate. His wife, Julie Fairs, also earns a conviction of forgery and fraud. However, her 12-month sentence comes with a suspension.

Mrs Williams had cut her daughter and son-in-law out of her will to stop them from benefitting from her estate in death. During the hearing, the jury heard that Mrs Williams thought her son-in-law was ‘cantankerous and arrogant’, even ‘dominating’ of her daughter.

The judge hearing the case at Gloucester Crown Court was Recorder Mr Ignatius Hughes QC. Hughes says that it was clear from both her wills and conversations with others that the late Mrs Williams didn’t want either her daughter or Mr Fairs to benefit from her estate.

Thus, she wrote them both out of her will. Mrs Williams’ sister, Lynn Botchett, states in her testimony to Gloucester Crown Court that “she never wanted anything to go to Julie, never.”

Ms Botchett alleges there had been problems in the relationship. They stem from when Mrs Fairs and her biological father, Stan Howitt, spoke behind Mrs Williams’ back. Evidence shows that Mrs Williams made alterations to her will after the death of her son, Terence Howitt.

The genuine will against the forging of a will

The genuine will was made through Christopher Davidson Solicitors. Coupled with three beneficiaries – brothers Martin, Geoffrey, and Paul Davies – in it. Their father, Frank Davies, offers testimony of what Mrs Williams had told him within the three years prior to her death.

“There is no way I can leave anything to her. She has had everything she is going to get out of me.”

Fairs handles forging a will accusations

After Mrs Williams’ death in May 2017, Brian Fairs did a copy-and-paste of a signature from his mother-in-law’s real will onto a forging of a will.

The solicitors told the jury Mr and Mrs Fairs came forth with ‘three loose pages of paper together in a wallet’. Wills “tend to be bound together so you know there are no pages missing.” Plus, Mr Fairs claims that he himself wrote the will. She adds the following.

‘The signature was not an ink signature, it looked like it had been cut and pasted.’ and that he had ‘taken the signature off (of) a previous will. In addition, some page numbers and dates were not consistent.” Moreover, “some pages had staple holes while others did not.

The judge said he believes that Mr Fairs was the driving force behind the scheme and his wife had gone along with it. During his ruling, the judge spoke of Brian Fairs.

‘(He was) responsible for the dishonour that now falls on you and your wife for what you decided to do.’

In defence of Fairs’ actions

Brian Fairs’ defence solicitor says his client’s actions were ‘about as far from sophistication as one can imagine.’ He adds while both Mr and Mrs Fairs’ made denials, Mr Fairs now accepts that he was ‘incredibly stupid to start the process.’

Like to discuss an inheritance issue? Keen to discuss the effects of this story? It’s in your best interest to get in contact with us at The Inheritance Experts where we can discuss your issue or requirement.

How To Fight a Fraudulent Will

When someone you love dies, it can be difficult to focus on anything other than the grief as you begin to process the loss of someone who meant a lot to you. However, the most important thing that you need to sort out as soon as possible is dealing with the deceased will.

This should normally be a very straight forward process, but it has been known for wills to be fraudulent and, in this case, that means that the real wishes of your loved one are not being carried out.

In this scenario, you need to know the right steps to take should you have reason to believe something is not right with the will, so that justice can be done, and the money and assets left by your loved one can be given to the correct beneficiaries.

What are the indicators?

Fighting a fraudulent will is not something you will have to do many times in your life. As a result, spotting the evidence of fraud is inherently difficult. Generally speaking, the grounds for contesting a will or countering a fraudulent will can vary. To give you a helping hand, below are some indications that fraud may have taken place.

  • The original will suffers from destruction or ‘conveniently’ lost.
  • The signature isn’t your loved ones.
  • Two witnesses were not present at the signing.
  • If you suspect the testator signs the will by force or trickery.
  • When the will gives everything to a caregiver immediately.
  • If your loved one wrote the will without the advice and presence of a legal professional.
  • If alterations were suddenly made to the will when the individual was in the hospital.

So if any of these above scenarios occur, seek out legal advice. You’ll discover how to proceed in order to get justice and ensure their true wishes are carried out. Will dispute solicitors can be on hand to seek resolution.

Fight a fraudulent will practically

As mentioned above, the first thing you should do is seek legal advice from inheritance experts to see two things.

  1. If you have a substantial claim to fight a fraudulent will.
  2. How to work out the process from this point forward to ensure you get the best possible outcome if the case goes to court.

The first thing that you will need to do is gather the evidence that adds sufficient weight to actively prove your claim of fraud which, again, a legal investigator can help you to do effectively. After this, you will need to work with the attorney to mount your case and have it presented to a judge.

Of course, before this gets taken to a court, a good idea is to have a mediation meeting with all those concerned present to state their cases and evidence in order to try and get to an agreement before going to court in order to save everyone the emotional distress this could cause in the wake of losing someone you all love.

Regardless, some people (even siblings) do have to fight a fraudulent will. Therefore, being familiar with the processes involved can help you to get what you deserve and, in the instance of a fraudulent will, this knowledge can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful claim.

0161 413 8763

7 days a week from 8am - 9pm

Thinking of joining our panel? Get in touch with customer acquisition agency, mmadigital, by completing their contact form and they will get back to you.