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What is forensic document analysis?

A forensic document analysis is an examination performed by an expert that can help determine the validity of a document. Forensic professionals apply many tools and processes to help determine whether a contract or other legal document is valid, and they can help shed some light on when a document was created, how it was created and whether a certain person actually signed the document.

Like many forensic sciences, document analysis is not infallible and the strength of the conclusions often rest on both the credibility of the person forming the analysis and other evidence that might support or contradict his or her testimony. Forensic analysis might be useful in some estate litigation cases, particularly if someone is seeking to dispute or uphold the validity of a will in question.

A forensic professional might be asked to determine whether or not a will was, in fact, signed by the deceased. A forged will obviously will not stand up in court. To make this determination, the forensic professional will likely collect examples that are known to be the deceased's signature with little question. This might include copies of the signature on bank documents or other court documents, especially if those signatures were witnessed by individuals not involved in the estate litigation.

A forensic examiner might consider how someone's signature evolved over time. They could also consider the ink used and many other details to help them determine whether a signature is valid. A forensic examiner's decision doesn't automatically decide the case -- they simply provide testimony and the case is decided by the court or a jury.

If you are involved in estate litigation -- or considering questioning a will -- working with a law professional can help you understand what evidence might be required to put your case forward.

Source: Forensic Science Simplified, "Forensic Document Examination," accessed Aug. 05, 2016

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