A Court has dismissed a widow’s claim that a Will leaving her £550,000 was genuine. The widow, who married 76 year old Newton Davies while she was in her twenties, claimed she found the Will in a Doritos bag in the attic. Her husband passed away aged 85.
The Mayor’s and City of London Court which hears housing possession claims was told that the Deceased’s estate amounted to around £600,000, including a mortgage-free £500,000 home in Wembley, London, together with around £100,000 in cash.
Mr Davies made a Will in July 2011 which left around £430,000 to Paulette Davies – his daughter from his first marriage, £140,000 to an old friend and £25,000.
Mr Davies then died in 2013, and in 2015 Ms Henderson produced the rival Will, dated November 2011, which she claimed came from the Doritos bag. This Will stated that he left £20,000 to his daughter, £25,000 to the friend and the balance of about £550,000 to Ms Henderson.
However, aside from her bizarre story, suspicions arose when it was discovered that the newly produced Will referred to the Deceased as a woman.
The Judge noted:
‘The most striking defect is that the attestation clause itself refers to it being ‘her last will.’
Asking Judge Nigel Gerald to declare the November 2011 Will a fake, Philip Noble for Ms Davies noted:
“No explanation has ever been given as to how Mr Davies was able to gain access to the loft space to secrete the will in a packet of Doritos – or why he should have wished to do so.”
In delivering his decision, Judge Gerald told the court:
“It is Ms Henderson’s evidence that the November 2011 Will was found in the loft of the deceased’s house, in a Doritos bag on the floor of the loft, in around March or April 2015.”
“She says she knows nothing about how it came to be written or executed. All she knows is that it was found in a Doritos bag in the loft of the house in the spring of 2015.”
“There is no doubt, upon the evidence which I have heard, that Ms Henderson … came to court to lie.”
“There is no doubt of any nature whatsoever that the November 2011 will is a simple, but rather poor quality, forgery.”
“There is equally no doubt in my mind that it was forged by Ms Henderson.”
“It will obviously strike anybody as being somewhat eccentric to put an important document such as a will into a Doritos bag but there are eccentric people in this world.”
“So that, of itself, does not cause me to be disbelieving, although it does cause me to consider how a man in his early eighties, who according to (a friend of his who gave evidence) does not eat Doritos, would put this document into an empty Doritos bag and then put it in the loft.”
“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.”
The Judge also noted evidence admitted from a handwriting expert who had examined the Will and did not believe it to be genuine. The expert stated:
‘There is strong evidence that it is a forgery … there is a lack of natural fluidity and evidence of correcting, which are wholly inconsistent with it having been a genuine signature of anybody, let alone the deceased, and it has obviously been copied.’
Because the November 2011 Will was not accepted, the Deceased’s Will made in July 2011 would apply. This had also been examined by a handwriting expert who had thought the signature on it to be authentic.
Mr Noble noted that he would also be asking for an order requiring that Ms Henderson pay over £42,000 in rent to Ms Davies, covering the time period that Ms Henderson had been occupying the Deceased’s home (which under the July 2011 Will rightfully belonged to Ms Davies) during the dispute.
Grounds to challenge a Will
There are many grounds on which a Will can be challenged – these include, for example, that the Will was a forgery/fraud or that someone unduly influenced the Deceased in making the Will. You may also be able to make a claim if you believe the Deceased should have provided for you but didn’t, or if the Deceased promised you something before their death and you relied on that promise.
If you need advice about a Will that you believe to be fraudulent or if you are wondering whether you could claim against someone’s estate, get in touch to for a chat without obligation: