Who Has The Burden Of Proof On Undue Influence Cases In Florida?
Challenging a will due to undue influence can be a complex and emotionally charged process. The person contesting the will must prove that undue influence was involved. However, who has the burden of proof in such cases?
Let’s discuss what constitutes undue influence in will contest cases and how to prove it. Our Pompano Beach undue influence lawyer at Mark R. Manceri, P.A., can help you gather the necessary evidence to prove that a loved one’s will was created under circumstances involving coercion.
What Constitutes Undue Influence in Will Contest Cases?
In Florida, a court may invalidate a will if someone contests it based on its execution or due to an allegation of undue influence. In order for a court to consider an allegation of undue influence valid, specific criteria must be met.
This includes proving that one person exercised control over another and caused them to do something they did not want to do or did not do something they wanted to do. This also includes showing that one person was dependent on another for care or assistance and took advantage of that dependency by exerting their control over them or that one person used their position as an advisor or confidante to take advantage of another’s vulnerability.
Who Has the Burden of Proof in Undue Influence Cases in Florida?
The law regarding who has the burden of proof in Florida changed significantly after 2002. Since 2002, the burden of proof lies with the respondent, not the petitioner (Florida Statutes § 733.107) if the petitioner can raise a presumption of undue influence by the respondent. It means that, contrary to popular belief, the responsibility of proving undue influence in will contest cases lies with the party against whom a petition is filed (the respondent), not the party who filed the petition.
How to Prove Undue Influence?
Proving undue influence is no easy feat since much of it relies on circumstantial evidence and testimony from witnesses who may have seen certain events unfold first-hand. You could establish your case by:
- providing evidence showing mental incapacity or physical weakness at the time when decisions were made;
- demonstrating patterns of behavior indicating domination by one party over another;
- producing evidence revealing unusual gifts made shortly before death;
- pointing out discrepancies between prior wishes expressed by the deceased compared with current wishes stated in their last will and testament; and
- offering evidence regarding changes made to documents without explanation, among others.
It is important to remember that all these elements require corroboration with other pieces of evidence so as not to leave any room for doubt about your case’s validity. It is highly recommended that anyone considering contesting a will contacts professional legal help before taking legal action so they can ensure they are making informed decisions backed up by sound legal advice along every step.
Reach Out to a Lawyer to Get Help
When someone believes that a last will and testament was created under circumstances involving coercion—in other words, due to what is known as “undue influence”—they may choose to challenge it through legal channels. However, proving undue influence can be difficult, which is why you might want to consider hiring a knowledgeable lawyer at Mark R. Manceri, P.A. Request a case evaluation by calling 954-491-7099.