Proving Undue Influence Directly
Under California probate law, undue influence could cause a will to be declared invalid. Undue influence exists where a person creating a will is in a weakened mental state, and an influencer steps in to replace the intent of the testator with his or her own intent. A challenger can successfully contest a will on the grounds of undue influence by proving it directly. In order to do so, a California probate lawyer will evaluate the facts surrounding the will drafting and execution for circumstantial evidence that directly proves undue influence.
During the consultation, the probate attorney will search for common facts that help in proving undue influence, such as:
- Provisions within the will that are unnatural, such as disinheriting a child
- Provisions within the will that contradict provisions that were in the decedent’s former will
- Opportunities for the primary beneficiaries under the will to exert control over the decedent, such as where a decedent relies on a beneficiary for his or her daily needs
- Poor mental and physical condition of the decedent, such as a weakened state of mind
- A sudden negative shift in attitude towards one or more beneficiaries with no other rational explanation
- Advanced age of the decedent at the time that the will is signed
- History of the decedent having had mental deficits
- History of the decedent having had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
- Testator being under a court-ordered conservatorship at the time that the will was prepared
If you suspect that a loved one may have been subject to undue influence at the time of execution of his or her will, contact a probate lawyer to discuss your legal options.
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