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Klenk Law

Undue Influence

In a Will Challenge case, Undue Influence exists if a person used a position of power over the deceased to “influence” that person to change the Will to benefit the person with the power in a way that the deceased otherwise would not have done.

Proving a Will Is the Result of Undue Influence

The judge hearing a Will Contest case can find the Will invalid due to Undue Influence only if he or she hears the proper evidence. Gathering this evidence will require depositions, expert witnesses such as medical professionals, interrogatories, witness interviews, subpoenaed documents and evidence presented following the Rules of Evidence and subject to objections by this Will’s proponent. Our experienced Will Contest Attorney will walk you through every step of this complicated journey.

Shifting the Burden in an Undue Influence Case

Probating a Will creates a presumption of this Will’s validity. The challenger has the burden to prove undue influence.

For example, the Pennsylvania Courts use a three-part test to determine whether undue influence affected a testator in creating a Will. This test originated in In Re Estate of Glover, 669 A.2d 1011 (Pa. Super. 1996). Those challenging the Will must establish a prima facie case showing that:

  1. The testator was of weakened intellect at Will’s execution;
  2. The proponent of the Will stood in a confidential relationship with the testator; and
  3. The proponent of the Will received a substantial benefit under the Will.

If the person challenging the will can prove all three of these points, the burden shifts to the proponent of the Will (the person who wants the Will terms respected) to prove that the Will was NOT the product of undue influence.

Who May Bring an Undue Influence Will Contest Challenge?

Only an “interested party” may bring an Undue Influence Will Contest Challenge. A person would become an interested party if the Undue Influence damaged them financially.

For example, if a child’s undue influence causes a mother to change her Will reducing another child’s inheritance, only the damaged child is an “interested party.” Though other people may know of the undue influence and be angered by it, they have no standing to bring the matter to court.

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If you have any questions about a Will Contest based on Undue Influence or any other estate law topics, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.

For more than two decades Klenk Law has focused only on Estate Law. We’ve seen it all, and this experience allows us to explain complex estate law and Probate clearly and concisely. If you are involved in Probate Litigation, our experienced Probate Litigation Attorneys will make it easy for you to understand.  Further, our Will Contest Lawyers provide top-notch representation. Therefore, you can make the best decisions for yourself and your family.

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