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But That Was Not Their Wish! – Left Out In The Cold


A recent and riveting development has just unfolded in the lives of some of the cast of Netflix’s popular docuseries, ‘Tiger King’.   It has been discovered (and confirmed by two separate forensic experts) that the Will of Carol Baskin’s late husband, Don Lewis, was a complete forgery.

Don Lewis was reportedly a multi-millionaire when he mysteriously disappeared in 1997 and later declared dead in 2002.  The Will, which was in existence at the time he was considered dead, left his entire Estate to Carol and cut out his family.  A report claimed that the notary, listed on the Will and Enduring Power of Attorney, did not remember authenticating the documents.  The report also claimed that two handwriting experts had determined that Don’s signature was “traced” from a previous document.  Carol maintains her innocence and that she had nothing to do with her late husband’s mysterious disappearance.

In Western Australia, if a Will is forged, or made under circumstances where the Deceased lacked testamentary capacity, it would be considered to be invalid.  The requirements for a Will to be considered valid are as follows:

  1. capacity – i.e. that the testator was of ‘sound disposing mind’;
  2. intention to make a Will (or, if applicable, alter or revoke a Will);
  3. knowledge and approval of the contents of the Will; and
  4. proper formalities;

Fraud, undue influence, and lack of knowledge and approval can all lead to total or partial invalidity.

In the 1959 case of Wintle v Nye, most of the Will was struck down because of the testator’s lack of knowledge and approval of the Will.

Someone who asserts undue influence will usually need to prove actual undue influence, that is, actual pressure amounting to coercion that overcomes the Will of the testator.  Where fraud is alleged, it is for the party alleging fraud to prove that has occurred.

If you have concerns about the validity of a Will, or feel that provision for you has been inadequate, we invite you to discuss your options with our experienced, friendly and knowledgeable Team.


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Thursday, 04 March 2021

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