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Monday, February 25, 2013

Handwriting analysis of the signature on a will

Have you ever wondered about how a real life court would deal with handwriting experts? I say "real life" to distinguish actual courts from our dramatic and exciting - but fictional - counterparts on TV. Handwriting is an issue from time to time when there is a question about whether the signature on a will is really that of the deceased, and when that happens, handwriting experts are usually called in.

Justin de Vries, who blogs at, has provided an excellent overview of recent law in this area. Click here to read his article.

The bottom line is that forensic handwriting analysis is acceptable to judges, but doesn't necessarily make or break the case. The courts seem to want to be able to make their own judgments about the validity of the handwriting. Mr. de Vries' article is interesting reading, so check it out.


  1. Hello. My mother made her will quite some time ago and both the lawyer and witness are deceased. Our current lawyer says they need to verify my Mom's signature even though no one is contesting or saying it's not her signature. Any suggestions what we can do to speed up the process? It's been in limbo for 6 months now. Thank you

    1. Hi Lisa.
      If it's been in limbo for 6 months, someone has to take charge of the situation. I suggest that it's the responsibility of the person named as executor in the document.

      I assume that you are trying to submit the will to the court for probate. Probate rules require an affidavit from one of the witnesses, but the court has the authority to find other solutions to that requirement, as long as the court is satisfied with the evidence given.

      It's not that hard to verify a signature, if you get a little bit creative. You need to find examples of your mother's signature. How about the back of her credit cards? How about the bank where she had an account? Cancelled cheques she wrote? If you can find several examples, even better. The executor should gather all of this material and take it to the lawyer and ask whether they would be sufficient.

      A lawyer isn't going to go ahead and do work for a client that the client hasn't authorized, so this is going to stay in limbo until the executor gives clear instructions.

      The standard probate document will have to be tailored to fit this situation but again, that's not hard to do.


  2. Thanks for your advice. Much appreciated.


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