In a Will Contest, duress arises when the testator’s real belief in a threat causes him to make a Will change favoring the threatening person that he would otherwise not make.
The judge hearing a Will Contest case can find the Will invalid due to Duress only if he or she hears the proper evidence. Gathering this evidence will require depositions, expert witnesses, interrogatories, witness interviews, subpoenaed documents and evidence presented following the Rules of Evidence and subject to objections by the Will’s proponent. Our experienced Will Contest Attorney will walk you through every step of this complicated journey.
Often confused with Undue Influence, because both Duress and Undue influence result in a change to a Will because of improper persuasion. They are different. Undue Influence results from improper use of influence while Duress results from a threat or the actual performance of violence that coerces the testator to change the Will.
Only an “interested party” may bring a Duress Will Contest Challenge. A person would become an interested party if the Duress damaged them financially.
For example, if a caregiver’s Duress causes a patient to change her Will reducing her brother’s inheritance, only the brother is an “interested party” Though other people may know of the Duress and be angered by it, they have no standing to bring the matter to court.
If you have any questions about a Will Contest based on Duress or any other estate law topics, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.
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