Undue influence refers to the pressure one person puts on another in a context that holds legal significance. Undue influence most often arises when a person is drafting a will or entering into a contract.
For example: Courts will find that a testator (a person drafting a will) was subject to undue influence if he was compelled to draft his will to comply to the wishes of another.
A person who is exercising undue influence will often:
Also, a person who is subject to undue influence will often be susceptible to pressure because of a deteriorating mental state brought on by age or disease.
Many states have laws which automatically place a presumption of undue influence if one of the following persons inherits from the will:
If a person is successful in putting undue influence on a person drafting a will, family members who inherited little or nothing will file a will contest. Furthermore, if the will contest is successful, a court will find the will invalid.
The certain elements that must be proved in order to determine undue influence are:
Courts also look at the special relationship or fiduciary relationship between the wrongdoer and testator and whether the person abused his/her position to the testator’s disadvantage. For example, if an attorney drafted a will and used his position as a fiduciary in influenced the testator to be named as a beneficiary in the will. If the beneficiaries can show that there is a presumption of undue influence by a person, that person has the burden to rebut the presumption and if he/she fails to rebut the presumption, their share in the will would be invalid.
If you have an undue influence problem, speak to an experienced estate planning attorney immediately. The laws involved in proving undue influence vary from state to state and can be very complex. An estate planning attorney can advise you about the problem and guide you through the legal process if you file a lawsuit.
Last Modified: 07-16-2014 02:33 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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