The elderly and ill are often exploited financially by unscrupulous people, usually through undue influence. The team at Marsden Law P.C. explains undue influence, how it can be proven, and how to contest a will.
What is Undue Influence?
The American Bar Association defines undue influence as "excessive persuasion that entails overcoming a person's free will and results in inequity." Unfortunately, many older people are targeted, resulting in their wishes not being reflected in their wills. Most undue influence cases are filed in probate courts with guardianships, conservatorships, and disputed wills and trusts. Here are some examples of undue influence:
● An estranged family member threatens a person until they sign a document.
● A caretaker manipulates a senior into signing a will.
● A partner takes over the financial affairs of an incapacitated person.
Proving Undue Influence
A will could be challenged in court if a testator signed it under coercion, manipulation, duress, or influence. The following three elements must be proved about the influencer to establish the presumption of undue influence:
- The influencer received some substantial benefits from the will;
- The influencer developed a close and trusting relationship with the creator of the will; and
- The influencer actively procured the will.
After these are proven, it is the beneficiary's responsibility to prove there was no undue influence.
We cannot know what someone, who may no longer be alive, was thinking when the will was drafted, so it is difficult to prove undue influence. You can, however, contest the document's validity in court with the help of an experienced probate attorney.
Your Next Step
You must act immediately when there are signs of foul play in drafting a will. Our seasoned team of attorneys has over a decade of experience assisting clients in contesting wills, and we can help you.
Please get in touch with our team today through our online contact form or call us at (800) 828-7854.