Undue influence involves substituting another person’s will for that of the testator.
- The factors of undue influence are:
- - a susceptible testator;
- - another’s opportunity to influence the testator;
- - improper influence in fact; and
- - the result showing the effect of such influence.
- If the contestant can establish
- 1) confidential relationship
- 2) suspicious circumstances
- Then burden shifts to proponent that T acted in freely and in good faith
Undue influence is difficult to prove because the evidence must be substantial, going beyond mere suggestion, innuendo or suspicion.
Merely having a motive, the opportunity or even the ability to exert undue influence is not sufficient to prove it actually happened.
- Effect of Undue Influence
- If the elimination of a provision created under undue influence does not defeat the overall testamentary plan, it can be stricken; the rest of the will is still valid.
- In contrast, if this revision alters the testator’s wishes for the disposition of his property, the entire will is set aside.
Yet, the existence of a confidential relationship between a testator and a beneficiary may raise a presumption (often rebuttable) of undue influence, especially if the beneficiary played an active role in procuring the will and the disposition under the will is “unnatural.”