When a person dies, family members often believe that they are entitlted to inherit a share of the estate. However, in most cases there is nothing to stop people from leaving their assets to whomever they wish.

In a recent court case in Bristol, the niece and nephew of an elderly man claimed that his will - which left the bulk of his estate to two brothers, with whom he had been friends for years, and the rest of his estate to charity - was a forgery.

The man had suffered a stroke in 2001 and was visited regularly by the brothers until he died of natural causes in 2007, aged 90. The court heard evidence that he had not seen his niece or nephew for many years, but the brothers were frequent visitors. The man’s accountant testified that she had been told that he intended to give his estate to the brothers and both the witnesses to his will testified that he had asked them to witness his signature.

Faced with such solid evidence, the court concluded that the will was valid and rejected the claim of the niece and nephew.