Wills: Genuine or forgery?

Handwriting experts are often asked to examine signatures on Wills in order to determine if they are genuine or have been copied by another person. One of the first questions our team is asked is, “Do you need the original Will or can you work from a photocopy?” Whilst we can work from a copy, we cannot look for direct evidence of forgery, such as guide lines or pen lifts, and also the fine detail of the signature cannot be discerned. Consequently, whilst yes, we can work from a copy, we do prefer the original document. We find that Probate Offices are often willing to release an original Will if we provide them with a signed undertaking.

For detailed comparison work, our experts need sufficient specimen signatures of the testator in order to determine the range of variation found in their signature. These should include, where possible, signatures dated around the time the Will was written, as it is possible for a person’s signature to change over time.

When the questioned and specimen signatures have been obtained, we compare them in detail, looking for similarities and differences. We will then reach an opinion as to authenticity based on a conclusion scale, which ranges from inconclusive through to conclusive. The strength of the opinion will depend on factors such as the complexity of the signature and the range of variation in the specimen signatures.

Our Handwriting and Signature Comparison service is UKAS accredited. This means we follow documented procedures and a second expert independently checks each finding, so you can be confident in the results reported.

The Handwriting Experts at Keith Borer Consultants are Dorothy Allan, Louise Floate and Karen Caramiello. They are based at the Huntingdon office and can be contacted on 01480 432 794. For more details, please visit www.thehandwritingexperts.co.uk or www.keithborer.co.uk.

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