3 elements that amount to undue influence during will creation

On Behalf of | Nov 14, 2022 | Estate Planning & Probate

Generally, contesting and nullifying a will is usually quite difficult. However, it is possible. A will can be successfully challenged on a number of grounds. One of these is undue influence.

Basically, a testator can be unduly influenced into altering their will when they are in a state of vulnerability (say, due to an illness or substance use). But undue influence is rarely cited when challenging a will for a number of reasons. Firstly, most incidents of undue influence happen in secrecy. And secondly, the person who was unduly influenced into altering their will is never around to clarify their original wishes.

So what does it take to challenge a will on the grounds of undue influence? To prove undue influence in a will, you will need to answer the following questions.

Was the testator vulnerable?

For there to be undue influence, there must be an active attempt to take advantage of the vulnerable testator with the goal of persuading them to create or amend a will in a manner that unjustifiably favors some beneficiaries. Undue influence can be perpetrated by the testator’s relative or non-relative, like the caregiver or a new romantic partner. Vulnerability can be occasioned by a degenerating condition like dementia, substance use or use of threats, coercion or manipulation of the testator.

Was there intent?

The existence of intent is another important element when contesting a will on the grounds of undue influence. Simply claiming that someone tricked or coerced the testator into creating or modifying the will might not be sufficient proof. You must also provide evidence that the party who manipulated the testator intended to unfairly benefit from the new will.

Did the undue influence lead to damages?

Finally, there has to be proof that the undue influence in question resulted in some sort of damage. The damages might not necessarily imply that the testator was tricked or coerced into amending their will. Rather, it implies that the amendments resulted in the legitimate heirs not getting the inheritance they were duly entitled to.

Not many things are unsettling as learning that your loved one was taken advantage of. If you believe someone unfairly manipulated your loved one to amend their will, you need to take action.