Undue influence could make life difficult for a family after the passing of a loved one. It could also lead to legal battles during someone’s life if the influencer takes advantage of an elderly victim.
Undue influence means convincing a vulnerable elderly person to give gifts or change his or her will. It is a type of fraud that can exclude family members from a will and suddenly turn a caregiver or aide into a beneficiary.
Signs of undue influence
Undue influence can refer to scams, intimidation, abuse, neglect, duress, coercion, deceit or over-persuasiveness. It is a legal argument a party could use to argue the validity of a will, contract, deed, trust or another legal document. Undue influence can cause a family great damage.
A family may be able to identify undue influence by paying careful attention to an elderly person’s estate planning documents, as well as his or her relationship with caregivers. Signs of an issue may include the caregiver isolating the loved one or taking control of legal documents or bank accounts. If a caregiver oversteps his or her typical duties, it could be a warning sign.
Litigating against undue influence in Miami-Dade County
Family members who notice signs of undue influence must take legal action to remedy the situation. Most undue influence cases require litigation in probate courts to dispute an invalid will or trust. The family will need to bring evidence proving that the caretaker used undue influence to receive extravagant gifts or assets.
Florida’s undue influence laws
Some states have specific laws defining undue influence. In Florida, the burden of proof in an undue influence case typically falls on the party trying to prove it occurred, rather than on the undue influencer, according to Estate of Carpenter, 253 So.2d 697 (Fla. 1971).
The filing party must produce enough evidence to show that the defendant will receive substantial benefits from the will or document, had a confidential relationship with the elderly person and played an active role in changing the will.