Created By: lu127 on December 30, 2012 Last Edited By: lu127 on January 7, 2013
Troped

Forging The Will

Altering the contents of a will

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I asked in Lost and Found, but no dice. If we already have it, tell me.

Bob, the ridiculously rich owner of Trope & co., is finally dead. He wants to leave everything to his children in his will, but his Treacherous Advisor or his Gold Digger wife interferes.

A common plotline during a Succession Crisis or inheritance squabbles involves someone altering the contents of the deceased's will. Whether by forgery, magic or other shenaningans, the individual will tamper with the document or replace it with a new one, leaving the succession to himself or his heirs. The rightful heir will be stunned, and his suspicions will eventually lead him to pursue the truth. Often, the perpetrator will be an aunt, uncle or a Gold Digger spouse.

If the deceased's will has not been found, see Lost Will And Testament. Common in Law Procedural and Murder Mysteries.

Examples:

[[folder:Comic Books]]
  • In "A Fat Tip For Murder!", a story printed in Crime Does Not Pay (a comic book retelling true crime stories), a hospital orderly is left $50.00 in a grateful wealthy patient's new will, then told to deliver it to the patient's attorney. He alters the will so that he will inherit $5000 instead, then murders the patient to ensure that he can't be asked if this is a typo. Unfortunately for the orderly, both the patient's attorney and a nurse catch on.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • In Deryni, Cinhil's will is tampered with, to allow one faction amongst the regents to seize power. His son Rhys Michael alters his will to give legal cover to a move against the evil regents.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire and the TV show based on it, Game of Thrones, as King Robert is dying, he dictates his will for Eddard Stark to write. Robert says "to my son, Joffrey", but Ned replaces this with "to my rightful heir", as he had learned that Joffrey is not actually Robert's son.
  • Lampshaded in Witches Abroad. When being told the story of how the old Baron of Genua died, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg both make the Genre Savvy assumption that the one now in control, the Duc, has control because of a will discovered shortly after the Baron's death with the ink still wet.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • One Rumpole of the Bailey story revolves around a forged will; Rumpole is retained by the true beneficiary to represent her in challenging the false will. (He's initially reluctant to venture into a civil court case, but he can't resist a good forgery.)
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, the player character has the choice of whether or not to alter a will he/she finds in order to inherit some contested loot.
  • In Professor Layton and the Last Specter, Chief Constable Levin 'Third Eye' Jakes changes Mr Barde's, the primary landowner of the town, will to leave the majority of Misthallery to Mayor Triton, Barde's only friend, as part of Jakes' plan with Descole to become Mayor and find the Golden Garden.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • Spoofed in The Simpsons: When Marge's great-aunt Gladys dies she leaves a Video Will. The lawyer edits it to say "I leave my lawyer $50,000." A look from the family lets him know they don't believe it, but he says "You'd be surprised how often that works, you really would!"
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
  • Howard Hughes died without a will, and several forgeries turned up. The most famous one was by Melvin Dummar, who claimed that he had picked up Hughes hitchhiking one day and was given $156 million in a handwritten will. This later became the basis for the film Melvin And Howard.
[[/folder]]
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • December 30, 2012
    SKJAM
    In a story printed in Crime Does Not Pay (a comic book retelling true crime stories), a hospital orderly is left $50.00 in a grateful wealthy patient's new will, then told to deliver it to the patient's attorney. He alters the will so that he will inherit $5000 instead, then murders the patient to ensure that he can't be asked if this is a typo. Unfortunately for the orderly, both the patient's attorney and a nurse catch on
  • December 30, 2012
    DRCEQ
    First impression of the title: Strengthening a character's willpower.
  • December 30, 2012
    gunryo
    In the game Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords, the player character has the choice of whether or not to alter a will he/she finds in order to inherit some contested loot.
  • December 30, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: When Marge's great-aunt Gladys dies she leaves a Video Will. The lawyer edits it to say "I leave my lawyer $50,000." A look from the family lets him know they don't believe it, but he says "You'd be surprised how often that works, you really would!"
  • December 31, 2012
    lu127
    ^^^ Ok, that I did not expect.
  • December 31, 2012
    henke37
    The will is changed to make Clark the mayor. (My memory is weak, check the details here please)
  • December 31, 2012
    Antigone3
    If this launches, you can pull the Judge Dee example off Lost Will And Testament -- the will produced by the first son (disinheriting the wife and younger son) was forged by the first son.
  • December 31, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Howard Hughes died without a will, and several forgeries turned up. The most famous one was by Melvin Dummar, who claimed that he had picked up Hughes hitchhiking one day and was given $156 million in a handwritten will. This later became the basis for the film Melvin & Howard.
  • December 31, 2012
    Dawnwing
    • In A Song Of Ice And Fire and the TV show based on it, Game Of Thrones, as King Robert is dying, he dictates his will for Eddard Stark to write. Robert says "to my son, Joffrey", but Ned replaces this with "to my rightful heir", as he has recently learned that Joffrey is not actually Robert's son.
  • January 1, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^^^^
    • In Professor Layton And The Last Specter, Chief Constable Levin 'Third Eye' Jakes changes Mr Barde's, the primary landowner of the town's, will to leave the majority of Misthallery to Mayor Triton, Barde's only friend, as part of Jakes' plan with Descole to become Mayor and find the Golden Garden.
  • January 1, 2013
    sgamer82
    • Lampshaded in Witches Abroad. When being told the story of how the old Baron of Genua died, Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg both make the Genre Savvy assumption that the one now in control, the Duc, has control because of a will discovered shortly after the Baron's death with the ink still wet.
  • January 3, 2013
    lu127
    Bump.
  • January 4, 2013
    SeptimusHeap
    Considering that this YKTTW has a sufficient description, a passable name and enough examples, I've given it a hat.
  • January 4, 2013
    PaulA
    • One Rumpole Of The Bailey story revolves around a forged will; Rumpole is retained by the true beneficiary to represent her in challenging the false will. (He's initially reluctant to venture into a civil court case, but he can't resist a good forgery.)
  • January 4, 2013
    lu127
    ^^ Thanks.
  • January 4, 2013
    SKJAM
    Looked it up: the Crime Does Not Pay story is titled "A Fat Tip For Murder!"
  • January 5, 2013
    lu127
    ^ Thanks.
  • January 6, 2013
    lu127
    Any other examples? Feedback? Hats?
  • January 7, 2013
    lu127
    Guess I'll launch this.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=6izb5bclzl7cpyctw8c06naj&trope=ForgingTheWill