Undue Influence: What is it?

For purposes of will and trust contests, “undue influence” means “excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will and results in inequity.”

The statutory definition of undue influence supplements the common-law meaning of the term, without superseding or interfering with the operation of that law. Under the common law, undue influence is conduct that subjugates the testator’s or settlor’s will to that of another, causing a disposition different from that which the testator or settlor would have made if permitted to follow his or her own inclinations.Undue influence is established when it is shown that a testamentary disposition was brought about by undue pressure, argument, entreaty, or other coercive acts that destroyed the testator’s freedom of choice so that it can fairly be said that the testator was not a free agent when making his or her will. Proof of general influence or opportunity to influence is not enough; there must be proof that the influence was used directly to procure the instrument.

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