What You Need to Know About Undue Influence

Wills are not as straightforward as they seem. While it is assumed the provisions of the will reflect the testator's wishes, this is not always the case. Many wills are disputed because of undue influence. If you suspect your relative or dependent's will results from undue influence, you should consult a probate lawyer. Here is a look at some basic information on undue influence.

What Is Undue Influence?

Undue influence arises when an individual pressures the person drafting a will to leave them some property in their will. It involves intimidating or coercive influence. The person influencing the testator might be someone who is close to them, like their attorney, nurse, caretaker, or a family member.

The undue influence occurs because of the relationship between the testator and the influencer. In many cases, the influencer controls important parts of the testator's life like their healthcare, housing, or finances. The influencer uses the testator's trust to manipulate them into writing a will that is in their favor.

How Can You Prove Undue Influence?

Proving undue influence can be challenging because the testator is not alive to explain their side of the story. The laws on proving undue influence vary depending on your jurisdiction. Generally, probate lawyers help their clients prove that the will assigned property in a manner that would not have been expected. For example, leaving close family out of the will.

You also have to prove a confidential relationship existed between the testator and the influencer. Also, you must show that the testator was vulnerable to undue influence. For example, you may show that the testator lacked the mental capacity to draft a valid will. You also need to show that the influencer exploited the testator and benefited from the provisions of the will through inappropriate means.

What Are the Legal Remedies When Undue Influence Is Proven?

If your probate lawyers succeed in proving undue influence, the court will declare the will is invalid. If there is an earlier will that was made without undue influence, the court will revive it. The revived will shall be used to distribute the deceased's estate.

However, in the absence of a valid will, the deceased's estate will be subjected to intestacy laws. Alternatively, the court may strike out the section of the will that relates to the influencer. If the will is still invalid after striking out this section, the property will be distributed through intestacy laws. 

To learn more about proving undue influence, contact a probate attorney today. 

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When most people think of hiring an attorney, they picture gloom-and-doom situations like crime and divorce. But in fact, there are so-called happy times when you would need to hire a lawyer. Perhaps it is time to draft your will and make sure all of your possessions get handed down to the right people after you pass away. Or maybe it is time to establish a trust and protect some of your estate. General attorneys offer a wide range of services, including those for good times and those for bad times. You can learn more about these professionals and their profession right here.

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