Wrongful Interference With Expected Gift or Inheritance
When someone is expected to get a gift or an inheritance and another person uses wrongful means to persuade the gift maker not to make such a gift or will, the intended recipient may have a claim against this interferer.
What Do I Have To Prove To Sue For Wrongful Interference with Expected Gift or Inheritance?
In order to sue for wrongful interference with expected gift or inheritance, the intended recipient needs to show the following:
1. He/she had a reasonably definite expectation to receive the gift/inheritance;
2. The interferer's actions caused him/her not to receive this gift/inheritance;
3. The interferer's actions were wrongful;
4. He/she suffered damages as a result; and
5. He/she has no adequate probate remedy or has exhausted all available adequate probate remedies.
What Does It Mean To Have a Reasonably Definite Expectation To Receive a Gift or Inheritance?
To have a reasonably definite expectation means that but for the interference, the intended recipient would undoubtedly have received the gift or inheritance. One must show that there is more than just a possibility that he/she will receive the gift/inheritance but less than absolute certainty. A good supporting evidence to have is to show that the gift maker had already taken steps to make the gift/inheritance, such as drafting up a will or preparing to transfer title of property to the intended recipient.
Normally, it is not enough to just assume that because you are a close family member, you will definitely be given a gift/inheritance. More solid prove usually is required to show that a gift/inheritance will be made to the intended recipient.
When Will the Interferer's Actions Be Considered Wrongful?
An interferer's actions will be considered wrongful if:
1. He/she acted with ill will or intent to cause the recipient not to receive his/her gift/inheritance; and
2. He/she actually used fraud, duress, or misrepresentation to interfere with the gift/inheritance.
What are Some Examples of Interference With Expected Gift or Inheritance?
Some of the more common examples of interference include:
- Interfering with the making of the will or gift;
- Inducing the gift maker to alter a will or a gift;
- Concealing or destroying a will or documentation to a gift;
- Taking away the gift maker's property so not enough will be left for the gift or inheritance; and
- Breaking a promise made to gift maker to convey property in trust to the intended recipient.
When Will Damage Not Result From This Kind of an Interference?
It is possible that the gift maker, in the absence of any interference, did not have enough property to make the gift or inheritance. As such, no damage would result to the intended recipient and no claim may be filed against the interferer.
What Are Some of the Probate Remedies That Must Be Considered First Before Filing A Lawsuit?
Some of the remedies that the intended recipient should first consider include:
- Will Contest;
- Proving the terms of a missing or lost will under the Probate code; or
- Submitting a new will under the Probate code.
Why Is It So Difficult To Win a Claim for Wrongful Interference with Expected Gift or Inheritance?
It is often very difficult to win a claim against an interferer in these cases because it is very hard to prove that it was the interferer's actions that caused the gift maker to change his/her mind and to not make the gift or will. Since there really is no need for an explanation for someone to make a gift or will, it is the same case when he/she retracts from making the gift or will.
Another reason why it is so difficult to win a claim like this is because proving fraud, duress, or misrepresentation is not easy. It can take a lot of time and money to gather all of the facts to support a fraud claim.
Do I Need to Consult an Attorney Regarding Will Contests?
If you believe you have been wrongfully deprived of all or a portion of your rightful inheritance, you must act immediately to protect your rights. If you believe the drafter of the will may have been incompetent, or unduly influenced by another person, you should also contact an attorney. An experienced lawyer can inform you of your rights as well as preserve any possible legal remedies you may have. If you wish to avoid possible future will contests a lawyer can help you plan and draft a will to suit your needs.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 03-15-2011 02:24 PM PDT