Undue influence is a type of fraud wherein a person uses over-persuasion, duress, force or coercion to impact another person’s action. For example, in the case of making a will, this may be if a caretaker manages to get a person to change a will for the caretaker’s benefit. The guilty party may take advantage of a person’s trust or mental health issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
If you are considering contesting a will because of suspicions of undue influence, you need to know how to establish proof and move forward with a case.
As addressed by the Florida Bar, key factors impact proving undue influence, which includes whether the accused party may receive substantial benefit, had an isolated relationship with the testator or provided instructions to an attorney during the drafting of the will.
If the potential victim is mentally unstable or incapacitated at the time of the other person’s influence, it may be particularly useful evidence. For example, if an individual had a terminal illness and was on medication at the time of making changes to the beneficiaries of the will, it may be a strong case to take to the court system.
It is not always easy to prove this type of case. It involves providing strong evidence that suggests the victim was either incapable of sound judgment or forced to make an unwanted amendment to the will by another person. Finding documentation that supports your claim is vital.
Pursuing a case
There are cases where contesting a will using undue influence may not be the right decision. If you feel dissatisfied with what you or other beneficiaries received, but there is no evidence to support this suspicion, you may not want to use it as the focus of your case.
Courts need compelling data to move forward with an undue influence case. To determine if your case is suitable for undue influence, it may be useful to discuss the matter with legal counsel.