If a will is to be challenged on grounds of undue influence, there are two important features :-
i) There is never any presumption of undue influence and
ii) The Person alleging undue influence has the onus and burden of actually proving undue influence
Given the above factors, it is never easy to actually prove undue influence. A review of case law provides the following legal definition of what actually constitutes undue influence :-
The person alleging undue influence must show that the testator ( the person making the will ) was coerced into making the will against their will, and that the will was therefore made as a result of the influence of the third party who dominated the testators mind.
Common features of Undue influence cases
We acting in undue influence cases, we find that there are often fairly typical features of undue influence which include :-
- the testator is often old or in ill health
- the testator is often often very vulnerable
- wills are often homemade and made close to the testators death
- wills are often a significant departure from established wills eg. excluding a family member
- often the testator will be a dependent on an individual
- the main beneficiary will be reluctant to allow the Testator to have any contact by family members
- there will be no reason given explaining the exclusion of a family member in a will
- the main beneficiary will often have forceful or domineering personality
What to do if you suspect undue influence has arisen ?
If you have been left out of a will and want to contest a will it is important to seek legal help straightaway. the reason for this is that assets and evidence can easily be disposed of and one of the first steps is to place a caveat on an estate, this would prevent probate from being issued. Also important time limits exist as to when a will can be contested so seeking advice quickly is crucial.
As we specialise in contesting wills, please contact Tim Murden who heads the will dispute team at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 01482 429985