“I’m the dead man’s next of kin and I’m contesting a forged will.” Which case won?
Pre-war relationship reestablished decades later
Prior to World War II, the deceased was on intimate terms with a woman, V. When V married someone else, the deceased lost contact with her, until they met again in the early 1990s.
At the time of his death, the deceased was a bachelor whose closest living relative was his first cousin.
In January 1993, when the deceased’s health began to deteriorate, his cousin helped look after him, including visiting him for a month and cooking his meals.
No known will in existence at time of death of deceased
On 27 May 1993 the deceased went to stay with V. He passed away a few days later on 30 or 31 May.
After the deceased passed away, V began making funeral arrangements.
As far as the cousin knew, there was no known will in existence. She therefore stepped in and took over the funeral arrangements as the deceased’s next of kin.
She also obtained an order that V deliver up the deceased’s possessions.
Will made days before death of deceased
Then, in late August 1993, V’s solicitors notified the cousin that the deceased had in fact made a will. They enclosed a copy of the will and stated that they intended to apply for probate on V’s behalf.
The will was purportedly made on 27 May, just days before the deceased died. It was written down in pen on a single sheet of paper at the deceased’s request by V’s son, N.
It was signed by the deceased and was also signed by N and by V’s daughter, H, as witnesses.
The will appointed V as the deceased’s executor and left his estate, worth $730,000, to her as sole beneficiary.
Probate granted despite cousin’s objection to will as a forgery
V applied for probate of the will but died before it was granted.
H and V’s other son, B, acting as executors of V’s will, then applied for probate of the deceased’s will.
The deceased’s cousin objected to the grant of probate, arguing that the will was a forgery. However, the judge granted H and B’s application.
The cousin appealed to the Supreme Court of Victoria Court of Appeal.