What Can We Learn From a Forged Last Will?

The Case of Estate Fraud in Kenya

This story comes to us all the way from Kenya where the late business tycoon, Balkrishna Ramji Haribhai Devani’s daughter is facing charges for allegedly forging a codicil to her father’s last will to exclude her two sisters from their inheritance. Dinta actually faces five counts related to her interference with her father’s estate, including transferring shares of her father’s company to herself without his explicit authorization.

Understanding Estate Plan Interference

So, what can we learn from this estate plan interference? We can discuss what a Florida Court looks at when there is an accusation of a forged last will.

Court Considerations for a Forged Will

As we can expect, a fraudulent will is an invalid will. But, what elements does the Court consider when one makes a claim that a last will is counterfeit? The burden of proof lies with the accuser, the one claiming that the last will is no-goodnick. The Court, historically, looks at:

  • Handwriting or signature analysis
  • Missing or replaced pages
  • The original is missing and only copies exist
  • A surprise new last will was discovered last minute
  • Differences in paper quality or font
  • Signs the document was taken apart and put back together
  • Unusual corrections or modifications (excluding codicils)
  • Missing legal formalities or “do-it-yourself” or “on-line” templates
  • No legal professional was involved
  • The witnesses were not disinterested – they gained from the fraud

Key Takeaways

So there you have it! We learn that while it may be easy to identify a questionable last will, proving fraud may be much more difficult. We also learn that fraud knows no boundaries, literally.

The Penalties for Forging a Will in Florida

Florida, for instance, considers forgery a serious crime. Any person who falsifies a document with the intent to injure or defraud another person could be charged with and convicted of a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Portrait of Odelia Goldberg, Esq.

With over 50 years of combined experience, our probate, estate planning, real estate, elder law and asset protection attorneys provide peace of mind for our clients throughout South Florida.

Florida Bar Logo Broward County Bar Logo NYSBA Logo United States Patent and Trademark Office Logo Broward Attorney Real Estate Council Logo

Schedule a Consultation

1270 SW 26th Ave
Fort Lauderdale, Florida   33312

Phone: 954-832-0885


Facebook LinkedIn Twitter

The Law Offices of Odelia Goldberg Logo White

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.
This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
© 2024 The Law Offices of Odelia Goldberg. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Web Development by IWD Marketing