Handwriting Expert Critical in Dispute


A handwriting expert was a crucial witness in an action brought by the personal representative of the estate who sought to set aside a deed purportedly signed by her deceased father.

The deed purported to convey property from the decedent to his son, the defendant. The decedent’s daughter, the plaintiff, claimed that the son forged his father’s signature on the deed. Plaintiff alleged that Defendant was the person who actually signed the document after their father’s death.

The signature purporting to be that of the decedent on the deed was notarized by a Massachusetts notary public. The notary public had known Defendant for over 30 years. He retired from banking in 2011, and took his most current notary journal with him and stored it in his garage. However, the journal was damaged by water, and he threw it out. The notary public bought a new notary journal, which was introduced at trial. The first entry in the new journal was the notarization of the deed, with the decedent’s signature. The contested signature was the entry reviewed by Plaintiff’s handwriting expert.

Associate Justice Karyn F. Scheier of the Massachusetts Land Court found that the handwriting analysis corroborated the trial testimony and documentary evidence.