What kind of hard proof is needed to contest a will for undue influence?

My father had changed his will less then two mouth prior to his death. I have strong reason to believe his daughter of his second wife had a lot to do with this change.

Orlando, FL -

Attorney Answers (3)

Jeffrey L Crown

Jeffrey L Crown

Estate Planning Attorney - Rocky Hill, CT
Answered

It is generally very dificult to prove undue influence by direct evidence. Rather, it is shown by facts and circumstances surrounding the decedent at, or around, the time that he or she executed the will. The more that you can "pin badges of undue influence" on the alleged infuluencer, the better your case will be.

Among these "badges," are creating a relationship of dependence or fear that the decedent would be abandoned; isolating the decedent from his family members; having the will prepared by the alleged influencer's lawyer; a significant change in the will in the alleged influencer's favor which differs from an established pattern in prior wills.

In some situations, the law will presume that there has been undue influence. These are where the alleged influencer is in a position of "trust and confidence" to the decedent. This mostly arises in the context of physicans, nurses, lawyers, clergy and other professionals. It can sometimes arise in the context of a 2d marriage.

You really need to consult a competent estate and trust lawyer in your state. You can find one by going to the web site of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel, www.actec.org. Do not rely on advertisements to find a lawyer.

I wish you well.

Jeffrey L. Crown

Thomas Michael Bates

Thomas Michael Bates

Litigation Lawyer - West Palm Beach, FL
Answered

In Florida a presumption of undue influence is created if the person who stands to gain under the will had a confidential relationship with the testator; actively procured the Will; and is a substantial beneficiary under the Will. I recommend you consult a local probate lawyer to discuss what evidence you might have against the daughter.

LEGAL ADVERTISEMENT – I am not seeking to represent you based on the response to this question. The answer given is for general information purposes only. No attorney-client relationship is hereby intended. However, if you have additional questions concerning this matter you may call me at (561) 802-4124; e-mail me at tmblaw@msn.com or write to me at Thomas M. Bates, P.A., 1655 Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, Suite 402, West Palm Beach, FL 33401.

Alan James Brinkmeier

Alan James Brinkmeier

Lawsuit / Dispute Attorney - Chicago, IL
Answered

Fifteen years ago I remember a case that the person held a loaded pistol to the head of the testator and forced him to sign the will changing the beneficiary. When this came out, the contest for undue influence was easily decided.

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