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If an elderly man had listened to his solicitor's repeated advice to make a will, his children would have avoided a sea of trouble after his death. His failure to do so resulted in a bitter High Court dispute and a judge's finding that one of his daughters resorted to forgery in a bid to inherit almost everything he owned.
Following his death, his daughter claimed to have discovered a photocopy of his will. The home-made document – the original of which was never found – purported to bequeath to her his home and all his other assets save for modest legacies to his grandchildren. Her brother and sister were specifically disinherited.
After the daughter sought to have the will admitted to probate, however, her siblings argued that it was a fabrication. During a nine-day trial, the Court heard evidence from the pensioner's solicitor, who described him as a sweet and desperately lonely old man. He said that he had on numerous occasions sought to persuade his client to make a professionally drafted will but without success.
Ruling on the dispute, the Court was satisfied to the point of being sure that the will had been forged by the daughter in collaboration with her partner and the two witnesses who signed it. That meant that the pensioner had died without making a valid will and his estate would be divided equally between his three children.
The Court found that the terms of the will – which would have left his son homeless – were utterly incredible. The words used in the document were clearly not those of the pensioner but were redolent of the language used by the daughter.
The circumstances in which she claimed to have discovered the will were also highly suspicious and it was inherently unlikely that he would have made a will without using the services of the solicitor, to whom he would naturally have turned.