Will forgery leads to jail term

Posted on: December 6th, 2017

A man who faked a relative’s will hit the online BBC News recently after being jailed for two years.

Mr Coppola’s relative had an estate reported to be worth £7m which he originally left to his family with a large residue bequest to the charity Medicines San Frontiers.

Days before his relative’s death Mr Coppola presented the family with a new will which now left out the charity. That and missing details about business premises raised the suspicions of the family, but Mr Coppola appears to have persuaded them that the deceased had changed his mind.

The will proceeded to probate and a distribution £1.2m was made to family and friends, with additional property to Mr Coppola.

Mr Coppola may have appeared to have hoodwinked the family. However the charity’s lawyers were unsurprisingly suspicious and challenged the will leading to the discovery that the will and signature had been forged.

Whilst faked wills are unusual, this case does highlight that where there is a sudden and substantial change of a will shortly before death, the circumstances may give rise to questions about the validity of the will and if a challenge should be at least considered.

Chris Gambs is an Associate Solicitor in the Inheritance and Wills Disputes team at Coffin Mew.