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Looking back through the archives, I stumbled upon another forged Will story, but this is closer to home.
Charlesworth is a small but busy village near Glossop in Derbyshire with two pubs and a couple of churches. In 2006, the Minister of the Congregational Church, Tony Craggs, attempted to inherit property valued at £280,000 by forging the Wills of two elderly members of his church.  His first victim was 83 years old and recovering in hospital from a stroke. He drew up the Will, disguised it as an unrelated document, and tricked the old lady and two witnesses into signing it.
His second victim was also in her eighties.  He somehow appointed himself as executor to estate when she died in 2004, but this not surprisingly, raised a few eyebrows.  Eventually the police became involved and the truth was quickly exposed. 
His pitiful defence was to plead that the two ladies had agreed to the arrangements, and they each regarded him as the son they never had!  He pleaded guilty and received a sentence of 240 hours community service and a fine of £4,000.   Judge Burgess said: “A jail sentence might have reflected the public’s disgust at this kind of mean behaviour. You had people in your congregation who trusted you. However, the truth was rather different. You abused their trust and prepared the ground for cheating them. Had you succeeded you would have netted yourself substantial benefits.”
The former Minister is apparently running a Blackpool bed and breakfast hotel for vegetarians and vegans.
This is another compelling reason to make your Will with a professional and store it in a secure place.  Whilst I have sympathy with the old ladies and I do not condone the Minister’s behaviour, this scandal could have been avoided by approaching a qualified Willwriter.
Lessons learned:
  • Do not put off making a Will, but discuss your options with a qualified Willwriter from the Institute of Professional Willwriters. 
  • Do not think that storing the Will at home is a good option.  It can easily disappear if someone who does not like its content finds it.