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'Lost Will was a Forgery'

A DIY Will found three days after a car dealer’s death has been regressed by the High Court due to lack of evidence that he had actually written the new Will. The DIY Will cut out the one daughter Terri that he had promised to leave his entire estate to via a Will signed in March 2017.

The DIY Will had been handed into the deceased’s Solicitor and the £300,000 estate of William Tibbles would have been distributed between the deceased’s three children that had previously been disinherited for various reasons.

The 2017 Will included a letter stating that three of his four daughters had been a disappointment and his son was already financially secure but the new 2018 Will confirmed that the three daughters and son were going to inherit the whole estate. The 2018 Will appeared to have been written on paper torn from a notebook.

Terri, the daughter of the deceased that was excluded from the 2017 Will, questioned whether the Will was valid stating that . Judge Matthew Marsh of the High Court in London said that the DIY Will was invalid due to no evidence of William Tibbles signing or asking for a new Will to be drafted before his death. Judge Matthew Marsh said ‘It’s handwritten and not in Mr Tibbles handwriting. It is written on a sheet of paper which appears to have been torn from a notebook. There is no evidence placed before me about who wrote the Will and whether it was written at Mr Tibbles’ dictation, who was present when that occurred and what his state of mind was at the time. There’s no real explanation for his change of mind and no evidence about him signing it.’

A handwriting expert was brought in to investigate the handwritten DIY Will as the daughter and son named as Executors fought over the validity of the Will. The handwriting expert said that the evidence showed that there was a moderate to strong chance that Mr Tibbles’ was not responsible for signing the 2018 Will.

The Judge ruled in favour of Terri, reinstating the 2017 Will so that she inherits her late fathers £300,000 estate. It is worth noting that the judgement was given in 2020 however probate has only just been granted.

The above highlights several important points

  • Obtaining professional assistance to make a Will or update a Will is essential. This provides evidence of reasons for making a Will or updating one.

  • Secure storage of documents so that the original document is protected from potential destruction by another.

SOURCE: - Jessica Hopkins, Probate Department, APS Legal & Associates

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