What is Undue Influence and How Does it Affect a Florida Probate?
Undue influence is said to occur when a person is able to control the actions of someone else based on the nature of relationship between the two people. Undue influence cannot occur between spouses under Florida law. The pressure this person imposes on the other overrides the victim’s power and ability to act freely. In many cases, undue influence involves a vulnerable person (typically someone with cognitive or physical impairments or who is elderly).
Some people look to prey on the vulnerable in order to get them to change their Will or other documents that provide them access to the person’s financial accounts. If you suspect a family member is the victim of undue influence, it’s important to contact a Pompano Beach undue influence lawyer right away.
Understanding Undue Influence
What you need to remember with undue influence is that someone is using their position to influence someone else’s decisions. The weaker or more vulnerable party is the one the coercion is done to.
If you suspect undue influence with a Will, you would be filing a lawsuit to have it invalidated. In order to prove that it was prepared under undue influence, you would need to show the following:
- The Decedent left property in their Will to someone that would not be expected. For example, they left everything to a healthcare worker while close family members receive nothing.
- The person who drafted the Will took instructions from the person exerting the undue influence.
- The person who exerted influence took advantage of the will-maker and benefitted through the Will in some improper way.
- The person making their Will was susceptible to the undue influence. Concerns of lack of mental capacity are quite common here.
Undue influence is not limited to older people. There are plenty of younger people who suffer mental or physical illnesses and could be susceptible.
You may have questions on what a confidential relationship is. This is essentially one of trust or confidence between the parties and can include caretakers and some family members.
How Undue Influence Works in Probate Court
Proving undue influence can be rather difficult in many cases. It’s pretty much impossible to know what someone was thinking before they died, as they are not here to confirm their thought process now. This is why you want an attorney who has experience with handling these types of cases.
A probate court judge will decide how to rule after listening to the evidence presented, which includes witness testimony. The Court may ask to hear from relatives, doctors, caregivers, their lawyer, or anyone else who can testify with knowledge on the relationship between the deceased and the person alleged to have used undue influence.
Contact a Florida Estate and Trust Litigation Attorney Today
If you need assistance with a potential undue influence situation, or you have another dispute related to probate or trusts, please contact Pompano Beach Estate and Trust litigation attorney Mark R. Manceri, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.