...poorly forging a will
We can all misplace things from time to time, but would anyone ever mistakenly leave their will in an empty Doritos crisp packet?
Plotting to commit fraud
When Marsha Henderson’s husband Newton Davies – who was 50 years older than her – passed away in 2013, she was shocked to discover that he only left her £25,000 out of his £600,000 estate.
Desperate to get her hands on more cash, Marsha decided to “orchestrate a fraud” by drafting a fake will in her husband’s name and allegedly finding it in a Doritos packet in the loft of her husband’s £500,000 home.
But, according to his only daughter, Paulette Davies, her father had signed his last true will in 2011 in which he left her around £430,000, £140,000 to an old friend, and £25,000 to his current wife.
Once Marsha discovered the contents of the will in 2015, she miraculously came across the fabricated will that happened to be dated November 2011. She then told her in-laws a “strange” story about how she came across the hidden document.
“There’s eccentric and there is ridiculous – and this is ridiculous”
Judge Nigel Gerald dismissed Marsha’s story and the will that had been written on an A4 piece of paper, which he described as a “simple, but rather poor quality, forgery.”
He drew attention to the fact that the will was full of errors, with the “most striking defect” being that “the attestation clause refers to it being ‘HER last will'”, which he did not “regard as a trifling or inconsequential defect.”
Judge Gerald also explained the serious unlikelihood of anyone leaving a will within an empty Doritos packet – a brand of crisps that Newton didn’t even eat according to a friend:
“It is inherently unlikely that the deceased would go into the loft in November 2011, find an empty Doritos bag and put his will in it.”
“There is eccentric and there is ridiculous – and this is ridiculous.”
“I cannot take judicial notice of the size of a Doritos bag, but as far as I am aware it is smaller than an A4 piece of paper. None of this makes much sense. It is plain that Ms Henderson is lying.”
He then refused to admit the will dated November 2011 into probate and said that the will dated July 2011 should go into probate as it was “plain that it was duly executed.” A handwriting expert had also approved the signature that was on the back of the will, which was also witnessed by a solicitor.
Paulette’s legal representative also said that they would also put in another order stating that Marsha should pay up a hefty sum of £42,000 rent to Paulette as payment for the time that she had been living in Mr Davies’ house since the dispute over his will began.
“This case highlights the importance of ensuring that any legal documentation – especially a will – is stored with a solicitor or in a safe place, so that in situations like this the real will is not destroyed or replaced with a forgery.”
“Stories like this also show why it’s so important to have your will carefully drafted by a solicitor, as ambiguous language or even mistakes in a will could have serious consequences for loved ones.”
“Even though it can be a difficult topic for families to discuss, having a will in place is the only way you can ensure that your possessions are divided as you’d like them to be and that no one is able to manipulate your final wishes.”
Written by Sarah Ali
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