Revoking a Grant of Probate

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    A case at the end of last year highlights the extent to which people will go to inherit money which otherwise would have passed to the Crown. The case surrounded a forged Will and the application by the Treasury solicitor to have a Grant of Probate revoked.

    Mr Doveton claimed to be a distant cousin of the deceased, Mrs Janovtchik, and had obtained a Grant of Probate of a Will said to have been made in 1977. Under the Will Mr Doveton was appointed as one of the executors and the sole beneficiary, despite only being 14 months old at the time the Will had been dated.

    The Treasury Solicitor became aware of the estate not long after Mrs Janovtchik died and became aware of bank balances amounting to more than £900,000. They lodged a caveat but Mr Doveton succeeded in having the caveat warned off.

    After obtaining probate Mr Doveton began transferring the contents of the bank accounts into accounts in his own name. This money was then further transferred abroad.

    The Treasury Solicitor issued proceedings to have the Grant revoked and obtained an interim freezing order to prevent the transfer of any more money.. They also sought orders under the Insolvency Act setting aside several dispositions by Mr Doveton. The application was made on the basis that there was no family connection between him and the deceased and that he only became aware of the death when he saw the bona vacantia notice. The claim was that the Will had been forged for a number of reasons. The most obvious being that the Will appointed Mr Doveton as executor despite him having been so young at the date of the Will. There was no reference to the deceased’s husband in the Will as a beneficiary. The deceased’s name was spelt incorrectly and inconsistent with any documentation other than that which was produced by Mr Doveton. The same spelling, which had been a mistake, was contained in the bona vacantia notice. The signature on the Will was also not Mrs Janovtchik’s normal signature.

    The application to revoke the Grant was successful. Experts found that the witnesses signatures had also been forged which, on its own, was enough to make the Will a forgery.

    Experts also revealed that, although the Will had been typed on an old style typewriter, it
    appeared to have been typed by someone who was unfamiliar with it. Mr Doveton was also found to be in possession of old style typewriter ribbons.

    The dispositions were also set aside as the Court found that these had been made with the intention of taking funds out of the reach of Mr Doveton’s creditors along with further transactions relating to his own assets.

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    Matt Walkden Will Writer

    About Matt Walkden

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