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Understanding “undue influence”

When a will makes its way through a Michigan probate court, a relative or beneficiary who questions its contents may have a chance to raise his or her concerns and question the validity of the will itself. At Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC, we recognize that there are several different grounds you can use to question the validity of a will, and one way you can do so is to raise the question of whether the will’s author was a victim of undue influence.

According to the American Bar Association, “undue influence” can, at times, prove difficult to identify or define, but it can occur when someone with something to gain unethically influences a will’s author to make certain determinations or distributions. The fact that undue influence often occurs “under wraps” or behind closed doors can further complicate matters, but in many cases, older adults can fall victim to it once they begin to lose mental capacity.

If you wish to move forward with making an allegation of undue influence, there are typically certain things you will need to prove. For example, you may need to demonstrate that a confidential or secretive relationship existed between the person making the will and the person who allegedly exerted influence.

You will typically also need to show that the person who drafted the will was susceptible to undue influence, and this might involve showing how this individual lacked the capacity to create a will that dictated his or her true wishes. Furthermore, you should be prepared to show how the person you believe influenced the will-maker stood to gain or benefit from doing so. You can find more about will contests and related matters on our webpage.

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