Aug 2023

Is Will Forgery the Same as Will Fraud?


No. They are not the same. Being able to recognise the distinctions is crucial to safeguarding the interests of all parties and ensuring that the Testator's wishes are carried out fairly and in a just manner.

Will Forgery

A Will has been forged when an aspect of the document has been altered without the Testator's knowledge. In many cases, forgery involves a signature being forged. But it's not always the case.

For example, a forger knows that the Testator did not sign the Will in front of two witnesses, and the witnesses' signatures were added later. Or, an individual can make a Will pretending to be somebody else.

Generally, Wills are forged due to some kind of family issue. But also remember that fraudsters may target isolated elderly people with no close relatives or friends to gather the necessary knowledge to deliberately falsify a Will in their name.

In such a case, there is generally no other relative to challenge the Will or make any claim concerning the Testator's wishes. Unfortunately, it happens.

Will Fraud

Someone commits Will fraud when they intentionally misrepresent the truth and cause another person to suffer losses because of that fabrication. A Will is considered fraudulent when the document has been manufactured, in whole or in part, without the Testator's knowledge or consent. Typically, the person committing fraud must make certain statements with the full knowledge that the statements are false, doesn't care whether they are true or false, and/or intends to make the Testator change their Will.

For clarity, there are three types of fraud when it comes to writing a Will:

  • Fraudulently creating a Will: In this instance, somebody can provide false or misleading information about the aspects of the Will or the beneficiaries.

  • Fraudulently executing a Will: A person can mislead the executor of the Will regarding the contents or intentions of the document being signed.

  • Fraudulently administering a Will: A will might be legally drafted and executed, but it can still be carried out fraudulently. For example, if a family member discovers their inheritance has diminished, they might destroy or hide the Will. Or the executor of the Will or personal representative might deliberately decrease the estate's value to the legal beneficiaries.

In summary, Will forgery and Will fraud both involve deceptive practices. However, while forgery primarily involves unauthorised alterations to the Will without the Testator's knowledge, often involving forged signatures or imposture, fraud involves intentional misrepresentation with the intent to cause loss to another. This can occur at the Will creation, execution, or administration stage.