What is undue influence?

Published 18 Nov 2015

Author: David Cossalter

Saying goodbye to a family member is never easy, especially if it was someone you were very close to. However, this pain and grief is multiplied if the contents of the will are not what you expected.

While it is important to remember that the will is a legal document and reflects the wishes of the individual, if there are inconsistencies or perceived issues, you do have the option to challenge the estate.

One question that you might have is whether the will was created under undue influence.

What is undue influence?

In many situations, a will-maker will have assistance in drawing up their affairs. Whether this involves discussing who gets what or accompanying them to a lawyer, this person has the opportunity to place undue influence on the will-maker. 

As such, there could be elements of trickery, pressure or fear placed on the decreased and this may change their mind on estate decisions. If the person in this situation is set to benefit from the will, you might have a case to challenge their actions and have the estate allocation amended.

However, it is critical to point out that both persuasion and flattery aren't illegal ways to influence a will. The real issue stands from if an individual has acted in a way that coerces a will-maker out of their original thought process.

How do you prove undue influence?

If you believe that a loved one's will decisions were influenced by someone, this is the time to contact an experienced contesting wills lawyer. These cases are notoriously complex as without the presence of witnesses to this trickery or pressure, it is hard to prove either way. In many cases, it could be your word against theirs.

This is where it's helpful to talk to a lawyer. These professionals specialise in these types of cases and finding evidence to make your case successful.

In a contesting wills case of this nature, both sides will need to prove their cases in court. If you are claiming undue influence, you'll need supporting evidence and a detailed testimony.

On the flip side, the person who you are accusing might have to explain their potentially deceptive behaviour to the court.

Undue influence cases usually arise from a will-maker not having full testamentary capacity and someone taking advantage of this situation. If you think this has occurred, contact the team at Contesting Wills today.
 

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