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What does it take to prove undue influence in a will contest?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2024 | Will Contests

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on the testator (the person making the will) to the extent that it overcomes the testator’s free will and choices, causing them to make decisions they would not have otherwise made.

If you believe your loved one’s will does not reflect their true wishes due to undue influence, you have the right to contest the will in court. However, you must establish several key elements to succeed in your case. Here is more on what it takes to prove undue influence.

Elements of undue influence

First, you must show that your loved one was susceptible or vulnerable to outside pressures or manipulation due to factors like their advanced age, poor health or mental state. Secondly, you must demonstrate that the individual who exerted influence on your loved one had the opportunity to do so. This entails showing their proximity to and access to the testator, which was necessary to apply the pressure.

Additionally, you need to establish that the person who ultimately benefits from the will played an active role in getting it created. Showing that they were involved in the process of making the will and may have influenced its contents is essential. 

Lastly, you need to demonstrate that the will goes against what your loved one had previously expressed they wanted in their will. For instance, it could point to mischief if the will excludes people who would normally expect to benefit or it goes against what they had previously stated they wanted in their will. 

Undue influence often occurs in private and without witnesses. As such, you may have to rely mostly on circumstantial evidence to prove your case. Seeking legal guidance can help you build a solid argument to increase the odds of a desirable outcome.