Estate Planning Attorney And Definition of Undue Influence
Estate Planning Attorney Joseph Hudack knows that after the testator’s passing, a relative who believes there was undue influence on the will must challenge it in probate court. Laws differ from state to state, but generally speaking, in order to succeed in a lawsuit alleging that a will was drafted with improper influence, the plaintiff must typically demonstrate that:
- The will left property in a manner that was unexpected; in other words, members of the immediate family were not given an inheritance.
- There was a “confidential relationship” between the person who had the influence and the person who made the will.
- The will’s author was vulnerable to improper influence. (Frequently, allegations of undue influence are accompanied by claims that the subject lacked the mental capacity necessary to create a legally binding will.)
- The influencer improperly benefited from the will by taking advantage of the will’s author.
These elements all point to a scenario in which a weak individual is exploited. It’s typical for the person writing the will to be elderly, weak, and to have moderate dementia, although it’s not always the case. Any person, regardless of age, may be vulnerable to harmful influences due to physical or mental illness.
A trusting relationship between the will-maker and the other person is referred to as a “confidential relationship”. People who have the potential to improperly influence estate planning are those who have control over a vulnerable person’s living situation or financial resources. For instance, a caregiver, a relative, or a lawyer could use undue influence.
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