Decline and fall

A reputable and successful accountant  faces criminal proceedings  after a Will he was propounding as valid was found to have been a forgery.

Having lost the civil proceedings over his mother ‘s multi million  pound estate and facing huge legal fees and irreparable damage to his professional reputation, he is now charged with seven counts of forgery, three counts of fraud by false representation, two counts of perverting the course of justice and destroying a valuable security or document.

Not the result he was expecting to say the least.

What lessons can be learned apart from the obvious?

  • Avoid the very idea of home made Wills. It is extraordinary that a lady with assets in excess of £40m appears never to have sought professional legal advice in the disposition of her estate or ensured that she had executed a valid Will effective in the jurisdictions where her assets were held
  • Ensure that any Will is kept under lock and key, ideally in safe custody with the solicitor who drafted it and that its existence and whereabouts are  known to the family  and recorded on the National Wills Register
  • Try to promote fairness and equality amongst family beneficiaries of an equal degree. Not always possible but overtly excluding an individual in favour of others can lead him or her into temptation, as here
  • Disputes over estates are sometimes unavoidable but they can be highly destructive and disproportionately expensive and should not be prompted by capriciously clinging the concept of testamentary freedom
  • Should we all be actively prompting the concept of forced heirship where there are fair shares for all?

His case comes up at Southwark Crown Court on 6 September…..

Carter Lemon Camerons LLP Solicitors is a City law firm which provides Wills and probate services with a personal touch to its clients – that go beyond the simple drafting of documents. Unlike many City practices we are happy to act in smaller private legal matters, bringing the same care and consideration as we do to large commercial matters. If you require advice on making, defending or contesting Wills, please contact Neil Acheson-Gray or Ian West.