What can you do about will forgery?
You may have seen in the news the sad and tragic story of Anthony Sootheran, a 59 year old millionaire who was murdered by his live-in tenant Lynda Rickard.
By the time of his death Anthony was reliant upon Lynda for his care needs. He had become a recluse, with Lynda having isolated him for her own ends. He tragically died in an emaciated state from a combination of malnutrition and a deep-seated pressure sore on his back which led to a fatal lung infection.
Rickard, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment for starving Anthony to death, also committed will forgery. She admitted forging the wills of both Anthony and his mother Joy, who died in 2012, in order to benefit from a £3.5m share of their estates.
Mrs Rickard’s attempted deception was unsuccessful and the forged wills were declared invalid.
Three of Mrs Rickard’s friends were also found guilty of signing the forged wills and received sentences of 24 months, 27 months and two years and eight months. A fourth friend, who admitted their part in the fraud, was given a two year suspended sentence.
Unfortunately will forgery in the UK is not uncommon. All too often we encounter people who have become embroiled in situations where wills are forged and witnessed. Many individuals fail to realise the seriousness of the situation they are getting themselves in to.
When will forgery is suspected it is important to ensure that the case is thoroughly investigated and that sufficient evidence is collected that will convince a civil court to set aside a fraudulent will as invalid. However, as this case illustrates, there are also very serious criminal consequences which can follow, including lengthy custodial sentences.
If you are concerned that a loved one’s will has been forged by an unscrupulous individual then contact our specialist inheritance team by calling our free legal helpline on 0333 888 0404 or by sending details of your case to us at [email protected]
We can often offer alternative funding for will forgery disputes, including No Win, No Fee agreements, which we can discuss in more detail as part of the free case assessment.