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The Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners (STEP) has given a warning about a rise in the number of probate fraud cases resulting from badly drafted Wills and the appointment of lay executors.

The Society has estimated that probate fraud is currently costing beneficiaries and estates up to £200 million per year. It is calling for will writers and those who charge for the administration of estates to be properly regulated to try to prevent losses caused by incorrect tax and legal advice and invalidly drafted and executed Wills.

A recent case involving a Welsh property tycoon illustrates some of the Society’s concerns. The man’s lover was convicted of forging a Will stating that she was to benefit from his £5 million fortune, rather than his former wife. Initially the man was thought to have died without leaving a Will and upon hearing this and the fact that his divorce settlement had not yet been finalised, the woman created a fake document. Her fraud was discovered and the Will was declared invalid so that the majority of the fortune would go to the former wife and her daughter.

The potential for probate fraud makes it highly recommended to have a Will professionally drafted and for executors to obtain proper professional advice if they encounter difficulties in relation to their duties. A qualified Wills and Probate Solicitor will be best placed to give such advice.


Written by Andrew Hodges

May 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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