It is natural to be skeptical about a will that distributes property in an unconscionable manner. If an elderly loved one inexplicably leaves a majority of their estate to someone they hardly know, a new advisor with a sketchy past or a new, significantly younger flame, challenging a will in this context should be expected.
But if the will has the decedent’s signature, is there any way to raise a challenge? The answer to this question is: yes; especially if you believe that the signature is forged. Under New York law, if any part of a will is forged, the will can be determined to be invalid. This post will highlight a few items to look for to discover if a forgery has occurred.
Different signatures – It is true that signatures can change over time as people get older or have different health issues (i.e. stroke or disability). However, if a signature looks completely different than the decedent’s signature on other documents, chances are that it is a forgery.
Unnatural lines – Everyone has a certain method and penstroke to their signature that is unique to them. A forger may not know that method. And even if they did, chances are that they won’t know how the decedent started their signature, connected letters or ended their signature. This ignorance would produce unnatural lines in a forged signature.
Inconsistent thickness – Most signatures have a consistent thickness to them as the writing instrument does not lose contact with the paper during the act of signing. A forgery is likely to lack this consistency as the forger attempts to copy certain strokes and characters.
If you have additional questions about forgeries and how they may form the basis of a will contest, an experienced attorney can advise you.