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Contesting A Will - Undue Influence

"A closer look at undue influence as a trigger to contest a will"

Undue influence in focus

The death of someone close is an emotional time, made all the more difficult when the contents of their Will are not what was expected. It may be that the deceased has left an unusually large amount to one person, or that they have unexpectedly excluded someone entirely.

Whilst there may be entirely genuine reasons for the content of the Will, it could be that the deceased was subject to undue influence. Undue influence may exist where the deceased was coerced into making the Will, or coerced into making particular gifts under their Will.

Not every action will amount to undue influence. Family members may have dropped subtle hints to the testator, or they may have reminded them about previous favours or warned them about how they are relying upon the testator’s estate to avoid being destitute. Whilst such actions may be considered unsavoury, they are unlikely to amount to undue influence.

Undue influence usually occurs where a testator is psychologically or physically pressured into giving a particular person a larger share of their estate than they otherwise would have done. The test is whether the Will contained the deceased’s own true wishes, or the wishes of someone else.

It is difficult to prove that the deceased was subjected to undue influence. The Courts set a high standard of proof. In a case called Edwards v Edwards (2007) the Courts said that it is not enough to show that the facts of a case are consistent with undue influence. Instead, it must be shown that the facts are inconsistent with any other conclusion.

If you believe that the deceased may have been unduly influenced into making their Will, there are investigations that can be carried out. If the Will was made using a solicitor, then questions can be asked of that solicitor, such as the identity of the person who made the initial appointment. The answers to these queries may provide evidence to support a claim.

Undue influence may exist where the deceased was coerced into making the will, or coerced into making particular gifts under their will.

How to contest a will on grounds of undue influence

If you wish to contest a will on the grounds of undue influence, or for any other reason, it is important to act promptly. For more information, please contact: Darren Morgan 01904 683291 | darren.morgan@langleys.com

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