10-03-2020

Daughter loses High Court battle over mother’s estate after judge rules Will was forged

A Nottinghamshire man who took his sister to court over claims she faked her mother’s Will in a bid to unlawfully claim almost half of her estate has today spoken of his relief after the High Court ruled that the document was a forgery.

Dorothy Ball died aged 92 on March 17th, 2018. She was survived by her adult children David Ball and Linda Sisson.

In 2015, Dorothy made a Will leaving 88% of her estate to David, with the remaining proportion to her grandchildren; this was created after a dispute arose between herself and Linda about the management of Dorothy’s finances and instances of harassment following the death of her husband.

Following Dorothy’s death, a later Will purportedly made by her in 2017 came to light via Linda.  This later Will contained a provision for Linda to inherit a substantial part of Dorothy’s estate, which was fundamentally inconsistent with both Dorothy’s previous Will and numerous verbal representations she made between 2015 and the date that she passed away.

In further support of concerns regarding the 2017 Will, the signature on it appeared to be different from Dorothy’s usual signature and CCTV evidence was obtained showing that Dorothy never left her home on the day the 2017 Will was purportedly executed. 

Notwithstanding this compelling evidence, the Defendants continued to assert that the 2017 Will was genuine and the matter ultimately proceeded to trial.  The Defendants called the witnesses to the 2017 Will to Court to confirm that they saw Dorothy sign it in their presence.

In the judgment that was handed down by His Honour Judge Kramer following a 4 day hearing at the High Court in Leeds, Mr Ball – who was represented by Banner Jones Solicitors and Mr Elis Gomer of Counsel throughout the Court battle – it was held that the 2017 Will was a forgery created by Linda and that the supporting evidence given by the attesting witnesses to it was untrue.

In addition to the losing the claim, Mrs Sisson and her husband Kenneth were order to pay Mr Ball’s legal costs, which are likely to be in excess of £100,000.

Lee Foster, Director and Will disputes specialist  represented David in the proceedings, said the case was a ‘stark reminder’ of the seriousness of seeking to produce a fraudulent document.

He said: “Unfortunately family disputes can often arise in relation to the Wills or Estates of individuals, but this case is quite significant as successful challenges to the authenticity of Wills are fairly rare”.

“Ultimately the Judge has determined that the 2017 Will was forged, which is an extremely serious matter and rightly gives rise to significant civil and criminal law consequences”.

“After losing a loved one, the thought of starting a legal battle can be quite overwhelming but sometimes it may be the only option to ensure that the testamentary wishes of the deceased are respected and carried out’.

“I’m delighted that we have successfully brought this case to a conclusion on behalf of David, and that he can now look to move forward with his life.”