Posted on 9th December 2009

Court Case Highlights Dangers of DIY Wills

Latimer Hinks Solicitors is warning about the dangers of DIY will kits after a court case where a daughter was found guilty of falsely trying to inherit her fathers 100,000 estate with the help of her mother and a forged will.

Susan Hursthouses father had agreed to provide half of his 52,000 bank funds to his daughter as well as a share in his housing association home, worth 42,000 following his death. But Ms Hursthouse wanted more and wished to deprive her nephew, who was also set to inherit Mr Swinscoes fortune.

With the help of her mother Jen Oldknow, a former partner of Mr Swinscoe, Ms Hursthouse bought a DIY will writing kit.

A will was drawn up dated February 2005 when it was in fact made two years later including a forgery of Mr Swincoes signature, with the document being witnessed by Ms Oldknow.

Mr Swinscoes daughter swore an affidavit that the document was her fathers last will and testament and was granted probate in September last year.

But a court found Ms Hursthouse guilty of fraud after relatives became suspicious of the forgery.

Andrew Way, Partner at Latimer Hinks, who specialises in wills, probate and lasting powers of attorney, said: Off-the-shelf DIY will kits are fraught with danger as they are often poorly written and confusion can arise over what has been left and to whom.

This court case also demonstrates how easy they are to forge. The best protection is for people to have their wills drawn up by a legal expert, which will ensure that the wording is precise and legally water-tight. This will also ensure that any signatures are genuine and that the will is properly witnessed, thereby, safeguarding the interests of the person making the will and their beneficiaries.

Judge Michael Stokes QC sentenced Ms Hursthouse to 12 months in jail while her mother was handed an 18 month suspended sentence.