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What is Undue Influence?

Under New York Law, there are four general grounds upon which to contest the validity of a Will.

These grounds – or Objections – include: the person who made the Will lacked “Testamentary Capacity;” the Will was not “Duly Executed;” the Will was a product of “Fraud or Duress;” and one of the most common – that the person who made the Will was the victim of “Undue Influence.”

After a loved one passes, if you believe that their Will does not reflect their true final wishes, there is the possibility that they were subject to the “Undue Influence” of another.

“Undue Influence” itself is generally defined as:

“…moral coercion which restrained independent action and destroyed free agency…it must not be the promptings of affection; the desire of gratifying the wishes of another; the ties of attachment arising from consanguinity, or the memory of kind acts and friendly offices, but a coercion produced by importunity, or by a silent, resistless power which the strong will often exercises over the weak and infirm, and which could not be resisted, so that the motive was tantamount to force or fear.”

In order to prove “Undue Influence,” the person challenging the validity of the Will has the burden of establishing that someone not only was the victim of “Undue Influence” as defined above, but that the person exercising the “Undue Influence” had both the “motive,” and “opportunity” to exercise “Undue Influence,” and that they “actually exercised” “Undue Influence” over another.

If you believe that a loved one’s Will may have been the product of the “Undue Influence,” and seek to challenge the validity of that Will, Bashian P.C. may be able to help. 

Vulnerable to influence

Most people have the mental capacity and strength to make decisions that they believe in. However, when people get older, they may be easily influenced and manipulated by those who are close to them. If your loved one showed signs of dementia, for example, this could be true for them.

Dependency on a person

If your loved one was dependent on a person, for example, a new romantic partner or a caregiver, their perspective may have been easily warped by their influence. If this person was included in their will, undue influence could have been involved.

Arguing undue influence can be a way to get justice for your late loved one. It’s important to ensure that their legacy is not exploited by those with manipulative power.

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