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Undue Influence

Proving Undue Influence Can Nullify a Suspicious Will or Trust

If you or a loved one has been unfairly influenced to create a binding contract, you may be able to claim undue influence. Attorney Thomas Upchurch in Daytona Beach, FL, has a wealth of experience trying cases in which one party has unfairly influenced the other to engage them in a binding contract. Mr. Upchurch has the expertise necessary to defend your rights. Contact Upchurch Law with questions, or to schedule a free case evaluation.

What is Undue Influence?

Undue influence occurs when someone takes advantage of another party, resulting in a binding contract. Often, cases of undue influence involve caregivers and clients. However, cases have also involved trustee and beneficiary, administrator and legatee, pastor and parishioner, and others. The caretaker uses their influence to convince a vulnerable party to create a new will or trust. The document may exclude spouses, children, or other family members who ordinarily would have been named as beneficiaries. Instead, the caregiver will be the primary or only beneficiary of the will.

Caregiver abuse is only one example of undue influence. Flattery, deception, and similar behavior may also qualify. It is important to note that undue influence differs from duress. Duress involves threats, physical abuse, blackmail, and related conduct.

There are very specific guidelines to establish undue influence, making it vital that you work with an experienced attorney. Mr. Upchurch focuses solely on probate law, and has successfully litigated a wide range of undue influence cases.

Proving an Undue Influence Claim

Your case must meet four criteria to qualify as undue influence:

  • You or your loved one was vulnerable to manipulation. Disability and dependence can make someone more susceptible to undue influence. Mental incapacitation is another consideration.
  • A confidential relationship existed between the two parties. Many cases of undue influence involve relationships between caregiver and client. Other relationships can include guardian and ward, parent and child, doctor and patient, and even husband and wife.
  • Evidence that the defendant was likely to exert undue influence. The courts may evaluate the defendant’s past behavior and testimony by family. They may also consider how involved the defendant was in the creation of the document.
  • The document itself must be held in suspicion. If a testator changes a will quickly and dramatically, this may be suspicious. It can be particularly suspect if the testator did this following a serious medical diagnosis or declaration of incompetence.
Why an Experienced Attorney is Important

There are very specific guidelines to establish undue influence, making it vital that you work with an experienced attorney. Mr. Upchurch focuses solely on probate law, and has successfully litigated a wide range of undue influence cases. He is particularly renowned for his success in handling estate litigation. With his far-reaching expertise, Mr. Upchurch can provide outstanding legal representation. At the same time, he will treat you and your family with respect and compassion, knowing how stressful this time can be.

Contact Us Today

Contact our office today to learn more about undue influence, and to find out if you have a viable claim. If we are unable to answer your questions immediately, we will be in contact within 24 hours.