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Son forges mother's signature on deathbed will

View profile for Katie de Swarte
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Son forges mother’s signature on a deathbed will

One of the types of claims we deal with is when a will may be invalid, which can be for a number of reasons. One reason why a will may be invalid is where the signature of the person making the will has been forged.

There has been a recent case where a man, namely, Mr Watts, an adopted child, having developed a sense of entitlement, took it upon himself to forge the signature on his mother’s will as she lay on her deathbed. This will cut out his sister, also adopted, as he accused her of waiting for their mother to die so that she could inherit from her estate.

This will was shop-bought by the deceased’s sister who filled out the will for the deceased, who was on heavy doses of opium at the time and died in a hospice six weeks later.

Mr Watts, believed that he should be entitled to all of his mother’s £200,000 estate and that his sister, deserved nothing. It was reported that the deceased was seriously ill and had a “do not resuscitate” notice at the end of her bed when Mr Watts forged her signature. The will, left everything to Mr Watts, and was witnessed by the deceased’s sister and a hospital nurse.

The nurse gave evidence that she did not see the deceased sign the will but she did see Mr Watts sign it. It was not accepted by the Court that both Mr Watts and the deceased signed the will.

Mr Watts denied forging his mother’s signature and claimed he “got what he deserved” under the will. It was also found that he had become “diligently attentive” to his mother during her illness and had been surviving on state benefits.

The Judge found that the signature on the do not resuscitate consent form was “very shaky”, with the letters “poorly formed”. Whereas the signature on the will, which although a “rather good likeness” of Deceased’s signature, was by contrast “fluent and firm”, considering it was purportedly signed around the same time as the consent forms. However, it was acknowledged by the Judge that the deceased may have wanted to cut out her daughter; however, this did not condone Mr Watts forging her signature.

Mr Watts was condemned by the Judge, having ruled that he forged his mother’s signature and that the will had not been properly executed and pronounced in favour of the Deceased’s 1999 will, which split her estate equally between her adopted children.

This court case between the siblings ran up an estimated £250,000 in legal costs, both parties having instructed high-powered teams of lawyers and handwriting experts.

If you are involved in a situation that sounds familiar, please do not hesitate to contact:

Katie de Swarte on katiedeswarte@childandchild.co.uk or 020 7201 3576, or;

Natasha Carolan on natashacarolan@childandchild.co.uk or 020 7201 3577

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