Cygnet Law is urging Teessiders to be extra vigilant against fraud this year by being mindful about how they date their legal documents.

Many legal documents, from wills to conveyancing contracts to divorce papers, require parties to sign and date in order to complete them. Many people will complete the year in the date using only the last two digits, which this year, using 20, could leave people open to fraud.

Gemma Brooke, director and head of conveyancing, wills and probate, explains: “If you date documentation with 20, as opposed to 2020, it is easy for fraudsters to change the year to any other year beginning with 20.

“Although this may seem like a minor inconvenience, if you’re dealing with the creation of a will, the date and year which it was signed can be very important in terms of disputes, and there will be some unscrupulous people who will want to make it appear that estate decisions were taken earlier or later than they actually were.”

The firm is advising its clients to ensure they date any legal documentation with 2020, and to discuss with their solicitor if they have any concerns about the potential of a third party amending the dates on existing documentation.

Gemma added: “We understand that dealing with wills can be a stressful time for any family, and for the extra few seconds it takes to write the full year in the date, it will give them peace of mind when it comes to the will being executed.

“We will always be happy to support our clients if they want to confirm their documentation is signed and dated correctly.”