3 FAQ about undue influence

On Behalf of | Oct 10, 2022 | Probate |

When testators make changes to a will, those impacted by the change may fear their loved one made modifications because of undue influence.

Knowing the answers to these frequently asked questions about undue influence might help beneficiaries understand how to identify and proceed in these situations.

What is undue influence?

When people persuade or force testators to make changes to their wills that they would not have made on their own, the influential actions might qualify as undue influence.

How can people prove undue influence?

The burden of proof lies with those claiming that undue influence affected the outcome of the wills. There are three conditions required for proof:

  1. The influencer had a close relationship with the testator
  2. The person was in a position to influence the testator and benefited from the will
  3. The testator would not have made the determinations without the influence of another person

Beneficiaries have two years to contest a will if they suspect undue influence.

What happens to an estate if there was undue influence on the testator?

When beneficiaries prove undue influence, several things may happen to the will.

  • If the testator wrote the entire will under influence, the will as a whole could get discredited
  • When testators amend part of their wills, only the affected portion might get discredited
  • If the testator made minor modifications, and the previous will exists, courts may accept the original will without discrediting any of it

The courts decide how to manage the discredited estates.

Undue influence changes the outcomes of wills. Beneficiaries should examine wills closely if they suspect their loved one had different intentions.