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Probate Issues: What is Undue Influence?

Fri May 28, 2021 | Probate |

It is not uncommon for people’s priorities to change during the course of their lifetime. Relationships sour, certain causes become more important than before, or people find themselves with more assets to dispose of than they had previously. As a result, people routinely make changes to their wills. Unfortunately, these changes can bring controversy, especially when those changes benefit one person to the detriment of another. In those situations, people will often argue that the will was changed under pressure from the person who benefitted. If you’ve been suddenly left out of a family member’s will, you should speak with a Boca Raton probate litigation attorney about your case. 

Undue Influence Explained

Undue influence is raised as an attempt to invalidate a will or amendment to a will. When someone argues undue influence, they are essentially saying that the testator was inappropriately influenced to draft or amend their will in a way that unfairly benefited someone else. In order to establish an undue influence claim, you must prove three things: 

  1. The person who is accused of asserting undue influence must have received some substantial benefit from the will; 
  2. The person who is accused of asserting undue influence must have had a close and trusting relationship with the creator of the will; and
  3. The person who is accused of asserting undue influence was in a position to influence the terms of the will. 

If you can prove these three elements, the burden of proof then shifts to the beneficiary to prove that there was no undue influence. 

It is not sufficient to simply show that it is possible there was undue influence in the drafting or amendment of the will – these claims require a very careful analysis of the facts in order to build a compelling argument. If you believe that undue influence played a role in your estate claim, you should speak with a Boca Raton probate litigation attorney as soon as possible. 

Facts That May Help Prove Undue Influence

Some examples of situations that may suggest undue influence played a role in the drafting or amending of the will: 

  • The beneficiary isolated the testator from other members of the family
  • Other members of the family were cut out of the will
  • The beneficiary had significantly greater mental abilities than the testator
  • The beneficiary was present at the execution of the will or at times that the testator 
  • The beneficiary recommended the attorney who drafted the will or provided instructions to the attorney
  • The beneficiary had knowledge of the contents of the will prior to it being admitted to probate

It’s important to note that no single fact will necessarily prove undue influence. Instead, a Boca Raton probation litigation attorney will look to all of the circumstances surrounding the drafting or amendment of the will. 

Contact a Boca Raton Probate Litigation Attorney at Ellis Law Group Today

Challenging a will can be difficult, but fortunately, you can get help. At Ellis Law Group, a Boca Raton probate litigation can review your case and determine whether you may have an undue influence claim. To learn more about how we can help, contact us at 561-910-7500 to schedule a consultation today.