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For Estate Planning, Estate Administration And Disputes

Contesting a will on the basis of undue influence

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2023 | Estate Administration & Probate |

When someone in New York drafts a will and then passes away, there are certain grounds under which someone might challenge the will’s contents. “Undue influence” is a legal concept that someone people cite when challenging a will, which, in simple terms, means someone influenced the will-maker to make distributions or decisions he or she otherwise would not.

According to the American Bar Association, undue influence allegations are sometimes difficult to prove. This is typically because the influential actions and the signing of the will tend to take place behind closed doors. When someone makes an allegation of undue influence when contesting a will, that individual must demonstrate that the following are true.

That the willmaker was vulnerable

The first thing that has to hold true in a will contest based on undue influence is that the testator, or the party who drafted the will, was vulnerable to someone else’s influence. This might mean the testator suffered from incapacitation or was otherwise dependent on the influencer.

That the influencer had control

The strength of an undue influence case also depends on whether the alleged influencer was in a position of power over the party who drafted the will. For example, the influencer might have been a caregiver over the testator.

That the influencer’s tactics were manipulative

The party alleging undue influence also needs to demonstrate how the alleged influencer’s actions were coercive in nature and thereby made the testator make decisions in a manner he or she otherwise would not. This also requires proving that the action the testator took after the coercion was unreasonable.

Demonstrating that all of these things are true is paramount to the success of an undue influence case.