4 Possible Defenses (Among Others) If You Are Wrongfully Accused Of Undue Influence In A Will Dispute
Will disputes can be a challenging and stressful situation, especially when you are accused of undue influence. Being accused of undue influence in a will dispute can have a significant impact on your life and reputation.
If you find yourself in this situation, it is essential to know your legal rights and fight against these allegations. Reach out to our Pompano Beach undue influence lawyers at Mark R. Manceri, P.A., who can investigate the facts of your case and advise you on the best defense strategy to fight against accusations of undue influence.
What Are the Possible Defenses to Undue Influence Accusations?
Under Florida law, the last will and testament can be challenged on the grounds of fraud, mistake, lack of capacity, duress, and undue influence (Florida Statutes § 732.5165).
Below, we will discuss five possible defenses that you can use if you are wrongfully accused of undue influence in a will dispute.
1. The Procedural Requirements Were Not Satisfied
The first defense you can use is to argue that the procedural requirements were not satisfied during the creation of the will. To prove undue influence, the plaintiff must show that the testator signed the will under coercion. However, if the testator signed the will in the presence of witnesses and the signing was done without any pressure, then the procedural requirements were satisfied. If the procedural steps for creating the will were not met, you can argue that the plaintiff has no valid case.
2. The Testator Was Not Vulnerable to the Defendant’s Coercion
Another defense you can use is to argue that the testator was not vulnerable to the defendant’s coercion. For undue influence to be proven, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the defendant took advantage of the testator’s vulnerability. If the testator was not vulnerable, then there was no undue influence. For example, if the testator was of sound mind, had full knowledge of their assets, and was not influenced by the defendant, then the plaintiff’s claims would not be valid.
3. The Defendant Had No Authority Over the Testator
The third defense you can use is to argue that the defendant had no authority over the testator. To determine whether the defendant had authority over the testator, the court must consider the relationship between the two parties.
If there was no special relationship between the testator and the defendant, the defendant could not have exercised any undue influence over the testator. For instance, if the defendant was just a friend, it would be challenging to prove that they had any authority over the testator.
4. Lack of Sufficient Evidence
Another possible defense is a lack of sufficient evidence. If the plaintiff cannot prove their case by presenting enough evidence, then the defense has a strong chance of succeeding. The plaintiff must provide evidence that there was coercion, and this evidence must be substantial enough. If the plaintiff cannot provide enough evidence, then their case cannot hold up in court.
Discuss Possible Defenses with Mark R. Manceri, P.A.
Being accused of undue influence in a will dispute can be a stressful experience. However, there are possible defenses that can help you fight against these allegations. Remember, if you are wrongfully accused, it is crucial to remain calm and seek legal advice. Our lawyer at Mark R. Manceri, P.A., can help you identify the most appropriate defense strategy if you were accused of undue influence.