Undue influence is a catch-all phrase used to describe cases where someone influenced a person for his or her own benefit. Cases of undue influence often involve the abuse of a relationship between a frail elderly person and a third party who the frail elderly person depends on for advice or support. Typically the frail elderly person either makes a Will or transfers property to the third party. Courts have divided undue influence cases into various classes. In some cases there is a legal presumption of undue influence, in other cases there is no such presumption. If undue influence can be shown the Court will set aside the Will or the transfer of the property.
Proof of circumstances consistent with undue influence is not enough by itself. The proof must also be of circumstances that are inconsistent with the voluntary action of the testator. Evidence may include:
- •Unnatural testamentary provisions;
- •Dispositions that are at odds with the testator’s stated intentions and desires during life;
- •A close relationship with the beneficiary;
- •An opportunity for the exercise of undue influence; and
- •Participation by the beneficiary in the execution of the Will.
If you believe that you were left out of a will as the result of undue influence, speak with a lawyer about your rights as soon as possible.