Has Undue Influence Occurred in Creation of a Will or Trust?
Attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Winter Haven, Florida.
The Bloodworth Law team handles probate and trust litigation where undue influence is a frequent legal issue involved in the creation of wills and trusts.
What is Undue Influence?
Undue influence occurs when a family member, caregiver, or acquaintance has influenced a person preparing a will or a trust for their own benefit.
If a testator changes a will quickly and dramatically, this may be suspicious. It’s especially suspect if a testator did this after a serious medical diagnosis or declaration of incompetence.
Undue Influence Strategies
Tactics used to unduly influence another include trickery, threats, even physical harm to persuade or force the grantor to include them as a beneficiary or a sole benefactor.
Undue influence is a cause of action. It’s used to challenge the validity of a Will or a Trust, deeds and other property transfers.
Proving Undue Influence
Undue influence is a type of fraud and is proven through circumstantial evidence. In Florida, a person charged with undue influence has used coercion, duress, or force, to deceive, control and overpower the person who is creating a will or trust.
Heirs, beneficiaries, and interested parties can file claims that a will or trust was created illegally on the grounds of undue influence.
There has to be proof that the grantor or testator did not act on their own free will, and was influenced not to act voluntarily because he or she was forced, tricked, or threatened into executing a will, or trust because of undue influence.
Vulnerable to Manipulation
The criterion for undue influence includes the fact that you or a loved one has been vulnerable to manipulation by another while creating a will or trust.
There have to be common instances of undue influence susceptibility such as:
- Mental incapacity
- A confidential relationship between two people
- A person with a disability is dependent upon another
There must be evidence that a defendant was more than likely to exert undue influence in these situations.
Defendant’s Involvement in Document Creation
Courts may consider how involved a defendant was in the creation of the document as the document itself must be held in suspicion. And courts may evaluate a defendant’s past behavior including testimony by family about the defendant.
The Bloodworth Law team works with defendants and plaintiffs across Florida on cases involving undue influence.
If you have questions about undue influence claims, talk with Reed about how Bloodworth Law can help you, your family, or your business.Consider sharing this post