What Is The Carpenter Presumption?
The elderly are a particularly vulnerable population. Often, they are taken advantage of by individuals who hope to profit from their estate by inserting themselves into the elderly person’s life close to the end. This can come as a jarring realization to family members who expected to be beneficiaries, only to learn that they have been excluded from the will in favor of a relative stranger. For this reason, courts have codified case law that protects the elderly from this sort of abuse, known legally as undue influence. One of these case laws is known as the Carpenter Presumption. If you believe a relative who lived in Florida was unduly influenced into changing their will, it will be important for you to understand the Carpenter Presumption. The information that we will provide in this article is general. However, if you are interested to know how the Carpenter Presumption and other relevant estate case law apply to your particular situation, it is a good idea to schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida estate lawyer.
What is the Carpenter Presumption?
The Carpenter Presumption is essentially a healthy dose of skepticism that applies when someone has helped procure or facilitate a decedent’s will or estate plan prior to their death. The Carpenter Presumption emerged from a Supreme Court case that was decided in 1971, called In re Carpenter’s Estate, 253 So.2d 697 (Fla. 1971). In the case, the court decided that when an individual has a confidential relationship with a testator, helps them procure their will or estate plan, and is a significant beneficiary of their will or estate plan, it will be presumed that the testator was unduly influenced. This shifts the burden to the individual who helped the testator procure their will to prove that they did not unduly influence them.
The Carpenter Factors
There are 7 official Carpenter factors that Florida courts use when determining whether to apply a presumption of undue influence to a beneficiary. Courts will consider whether the individual was present at the signing of the will, if they recommended the making of the will to an attorney, if they were there when the testator expressed wanting to make a will, if they had knowledge of what would be included in the will before it was drafted or signed, if they provided any instructions to the attorney on how the will was to be prepared, if they selected the witnesses who were present for the signing and execution of the will, and if they kept the will in their possession prior to its execution. In addition to these 7 official factors, courts may also consider other factors. In other words, these 7 factors are not exclusive. Courts also frequently consider whether the individual talked badly about the testator’s family and isolated the testator from loved ones, if there was a disparity in capacity or mental ability between the testator and the beneficiary, and whether the terms of the will or estate plan were objectively reasonable.
Schedule a Consultation with Mark R. Manceri in Pompano Beach, Florida, Today
If you believe your loved one may have been unduly influenced in creating their will or estate plan, it’s critical to have a dedicated Florida estate attorney on your side. Contact Pompano Beach estate & trust litigation lawyer Mark R. Manceri, P.A. today, to schedule a personalized consultation.