I have just noticed this case which was decided in the High Court a couple of weeks ago. It caught my eye as being very similar to cases that I have had in the past where people have been trying to challenge a Will on the basis of another family member forging it.
In this case, the deceased, Mrs Gale, made a Will in 1994 which divided her home and the rest of her estate equally between her two children, rocket scientist David and 59-year-old daughter Janice. The estate was valued in the region of £300,000. But, in March 2002, Janice was alleged to have forged a codicil to claim sole entitlement to her mother’s fortune. A codicil is a document that amends, rather than replaces, a previously executed will. The will was altered by Janice to read: “I wish my daughter to keep the house and everything in the house, and any remaining savings to be divided between my daughter and son, Janice and David”. Later, in February 2004, a second codicil was forged by Janice which claimed that Mrs Gale wished to leave all her property and fortune to Janice, but only “if she wishes”.
The High Court was shown evidence that the two women did not get on and that Mrs Gale had become suspicious of her daughter as she suffered with Alzheimer’s. The judge ruled that both the 2002 and 2004 codicils were forgeries, and therefore found in favour of the original 1994 will. Therefore, the estate will now be split equally. However, Janice Gale was ordered to pay 80% of her brother’s £80,000 legal costs, which will significantly reduce her inheritance.
This case shows that some people will go to extraordinary lengths when it comes to money, and I find it quite sad how often things like this happen. It also shows that fraud doesn’t pay, and the Courts take a serious view of it. I am a solicitor who specialises in Inheritance Disputes, and often have to deal with cases where fraud is involved. However, fraud is a very serious allegation to make, and you should always seek specialist legal advice before taking such a case to Court.
Sometimes people are not even aware that they can bring a claim. If you are in any doubt, then contact our specialist litigation team who deal with Inheritance Disputes on 01942 777777. If you are of limited financial means, you may even be entitled to Legal Aid, and we can advise you of this quickly over the phone.
By consumer solicitor, Heather Korwin - Szymanowska