What is undue influence?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2022 | Estate And Trust Litigation

There are only limited reasons on which someone can challenge a person’s estate plan after they die. One of those is undue influence. The ability to challenge is also restricted to certain people, usually those who stand to inherit or would have done so if there was no estate plan.

Challenge on the grounds of undue influence is typically used when one or more people feel they should have got a bigger share of the estate but believe that someone persuaded their family member to alter it in their favor.

It could be another family member they are accusing, perhaps the deceased’s partner or someone else, such as the person that cared for them during their last months of life.

So how does the law define undue influence?

Here are the three factors the Texas Supreme Court considered necessary to define whether or not something qualifies as an undue influence in a past case.

  • The existence of an exertion or influence.
  • The effective operation of such influence that it succeeded in overpowering the mind of the decedent at the time of the execution of the will.
  • The execution of the will would not have been made in that manner except for the undue influence.

Even if you think all those factors apply, a court might not agree, and the party you are accusing will almost certainly try to argue they did nothing wrong and are indeed entitled to the inheritance.

Challenging someone’s estate planning decisions will rarely be straightforward, but with experienced legal help, you can increase your chances of succeeding.