Legal Solutions

What does undue influence mean in Texas?

On Behalf of | Apr 10, 2023 | Probate

If you have a loved one who passed away and left a will that seems unfair, you may wonder if someone exerted undue influence over them. Undue influence is a legal term that refers to a situation where a person takes advantage of another person’s weakened mental state or vulnerability and persuades them to change their will in their favor. Undue influence can be committed by anyone who has access to the person who made the will (the testator), such as a caretaker, aide, family member, friend, lawyer, etc.

A common way to challenge a will

Undue influence is one of the most common grounds for challenging a will in Beaumont, Texas. However, it is not easy to prove in court. You need to show that the testator was subjected to such pressure or manipulation that they lost their free will and made a will that they would not have made otherwise. You also need to show that the person who influenced the testator had a fraudulent motive and benefited from the will change.

Signs of undue influence

Some of the signs that may indicate that your Beaumont, Texas, loved one was under undue influence when they made their will are the will was made or changed shortly before the testator’s death or when they were suffering from a serious illness, dementia, or medication side effects. In addition, the will was drafted or witnessed by the person who allegedly influenced the testator or by someone connected to them.

The will deviates significantly from the testator’s previous wishes or values, such as excluding their children or other close relatives and leaving everything to a new or distant beneficiary could also be a sign of undue influence. As could the fact that the testator was isolated from their family and friends and depended on the person who allegedly influenced them for their care, companionship or financial support.

Evidence of undue influence

If you decide to contest your loved one’s will based on undue influence, you need to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. Some of the evidence that may help you prove undue influence are medical records and expert testimony that show the testator’s mental and physical condition at the time of making the will and their susceptibility to influence.

Witness statements from people who knew the testator and observed their relationship with the person who allegedly influenced them can also be used. As can documents and correspondence that show the involvement of the person who allegedly influenced them in drafting, revising or executing the will.