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Demonstrating Undue Influence in Probate Court

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The death of a loved one is a very hard time for anyone, but the matter is made far worse when it is uncovered that the deceased’s estate plan is suspicious. Unfortunately, it is not entirely unheard of for those near death, elderly or sick, to be taken advantage of by someone close to them when drawing up a final will and testament. The term for such an occurrence is undue influence, and proving it in court takes more than a simple accusation. Doing so takes a skilled Miami probate attorney and a solid understanding of what must have occurred to create undue influence.

How to Prove It

Attempting to sway someone’s opinion on matters concerning a will is not necessarily undue influence as it is defined by the court. For instance, if the person writing the will was of sound mind, suggestions or even demands for alterations to be made to the will would not qualify as undue influence. That is because regardless of what was said to this individual, he would still be capable of making his own decisions regarding final requests. Even if his choice had been influenced by this person, it still would have been the deceased’s choice.

In order for there to be grounds for undue influence, four things must have occurred:

  1. The will contradicts what the deceased had previously stated to be his last wishes, without a reasonable explanation.
  2. The person who influenced the deceased’s decision was an individual whom he or she trusted or even relied upon.
  3. The will-maker was more impressionable than the average person, due to illness or old age.
  4. The individual who influenced the decisions served to benefit from the will.

Proving all of this in court will require legal guidance, as the matter is made particularly difficult since the person who created the will cannot testify. However, through the testimonies of those who were close to this person, one can effectively prove undue influence. Proof to the state of mind the deceased was in at the time the will was crafted is understandably effective, as well.

If you have concerns over a loved one’s will, a Miami probate attorney at Graham Legal is here to help. Call us today to speak with a member of our team.

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