Understanding the Concept of ‘Undue Influence’ in Creating a Will
When family members are blindsided by the contents of an individual’s will, they may begin to suspect there was undue influence on the testator. Perhaps they did not receive the inheritance they expected, or maybe someone else received an unusually large inheritance — someone who was not family and did not seem to be particularly close to the deceased. Regardless, if you are able to prove that undue influence occurred, the will could be invalidated in a court of law.
Anyone who suspects undue influence must bring their concerns to probate court. Generally, you must be able to prove the following:
- There is evidence of some sort of confidential relationship between the person suspected of exerting the influence and the will maker.
- The person making the will was somehow susceptible to undue influence. For example, he or she could have lacked the mental capacity to be able to make a valid will.
- The person suspected of influence took advantage of the will maker’s state and was able to benefit from the will because of his/her influence.
- Evidence of undue influence includes the participation of the influencer in the preparation of the will.
By far the most common scenario involves a person taking advantage of someone who is particularly vulnerable, such as someone suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or mild dementia. However, any person at any age may be susceptible to some type of undue influence, and such influence can come from just about anyone, whether it’s a family member, caretaker or otherwise.
If you have reason to believe that a loved one’s will has been created with undue influence from another party, meet with a dedicated Tampa estate administration attorney at BaumannKangas Estate Law.