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How can you prove undue influence when challenging a will?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2024 | Estate Litigation

A legally valid will should reflect the owner’s true wishes and intentions of how to distribute their estate when they die. Therefore, you may challenge the validity of your loved one’s will in court if you believe they were unduly influenced when creating it.

For context, undue influence refers to any conduct that deprives a person of their free will and coerces or manipulates them into making a will that does not reflect their real desires to benefit the perpetrator. Proving your loved one was a victim of undue influence can be difficult, but it is possible with the proper evidence and legal arguments. Here is what you need to do.

Gather the necessary evidence

The burden of proof falls on you when challenging the validity of a will on grounds of undue influence. As such, you must present evidence that suggests undue influence was exerted over your loved one for a successful outcome.

The first thing you need to show is that your loved one was physically or mentally vulnerable at the time due to, say, old age, an illness, isolation or dependence on the perpetrator. Evidence like medical records or witness testimony showing your loved one was susceptible to undue influence can support your claims.

Second, you must show that the perpetrator had the authority or perceived authority and opportunity to exert undue influence based on their relationship with your loved one. It could be a caregiver, doctor, legal representative and even family members who may have abused their positions of trust.

It also helps to point out the tactics they may have used to exert undue influence, such as coercion, threats, false affection or trickery, and how they stood to benefit from it all.

Present a strong argument

The good news is that you do not have to prove undue influence beyond a reasonable doubt as in a criminal trial. The standard of proof is usually lower, but you should provide enough evidence to convince the court that it is more likely than not that undue influence occurred.

Reaching out for legal guidance can help you build a strong case that will increase the chances of a desirable outcome and protect your inheritance from unintended parties.

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