What Is Undue Influence?
When a testator in drafting their will has been unduly influenced, then they have not divided their estate of their own free will. The influence imposed by some other person on the deceased is so great and overpowering that the document does not reflect the will of the deceased.
Who May Unduly Influence a Testator?
There is no legal limit as to who may unduly influence a testator. Likely someone of a close relation to the testator will exert this type of influence, such as a spouse, a child, a sibling or a caregiver.
Who is More Likely to be Subjected to Undue Influence?
Elderly individuals may be more likely to be unduly influenced in the creation of their will. Further, individuals who have a deteriorating mental or physical condition may be more likely to be unduly influenced as well.
What Happens if Undue influence is Found?
A finding of undue influence will result in a will being declared invalid. When this occurs, the deceased’s estate may be divided according to a previous valid will, or their estate may be intestate. The concept of undue influence does not comply with principles of testamentary intention.
The purpose of a will is to express the testamentary intention of the person testator. The intent of the testator is of utmost importance when interpreting a will, and not the intention of a third party. Section 26 of the Wills and Succession Act states that “a will must be interpreted in a manner that gives effect to the intention of the testator…”
If you have any questions regarding undue influence, contact one of the estate lawyers at Kantor LLP. We are happy to answer any questions.