SOLVING PERSONAL LEGAL MATTERS
Undue influence can occur when a person is coerced or manipulated into making a Will that does not accurately reflect their wishes. At Forbes Solicitors, our solicitors have the expertise and experience to help you contest a Will on the grounds of undue influence, and to ensure that your loved one's wishes are respected.
A Will made because of undue influence is in an invalid Will and not legally binding and cannot be used to decide who should administer an estate of a deceased person or how to distribute their estate.
Undue influence in wills is a situation where a person has been coerced into making a Will that they did not wish to make. Undue influence may can take many forms including physical force and mental pressure.
This accusation is often made when the Will was made by a person who was weak, frail, in ill-health, suffering from impaired capacity or dependent upon the person who is accused of undue influence.
If you want to challenge a Will for undue influence as the grounds for your claim, you will need to have evidence that the person writing the Will was a coerced by someone else. It could be that the deceased person changed their Will unexpectedly or at the last minute, or that the changes made were in opposition to what they had previously said they were doing in their Will. The deceased person may have been ill or frail or particularly vulnerable when the changes were made to the Will, or there could also have been changes made that are detrimental to the estate and seem unlikely to have come from the deceased own wishes.
These changes in themselves are not proof of undue influence, but they are signs that could cause concern that all is not as it should be with this Will. These changes could potentially manifest themselves in the Will in several ways, including:
To prove undue influence in a Will under UK law, it must be shown that the testator was coerced or manipulated into making certain provisions in the Will. Evidence of this can include the testator's vulnerability, the influencer's relationship with the testator, and any suspicious circumstances surrounding the creation of the Will. It is important to seek legal advice and gather evidence to support the claim of undue influence.
Proving undue influence in a Will can be a complex process. By its very nature, someone putting undue influence on a person to change their Will is usually done in private, where there are not usually any witnesses. Many cases of undue influence in Wills have been found to involve someone that was in a position of trust to the deceased, or someone they depended on, including partners, children or carers. For a claim of undue influence to be successful in contesting the Will, you will need to prove that there is no other reasonable explanation for the Will having been changed in the way it has.
The crux is that you need to prove that the deceased wouldn't have written their Will in this way, with particular assets or gifts going to the people they do, without having been pressured, or even bullied, into it.
Here at Forbes Solicitors, we're experts in handling disputes within Wills, trusts and estates, so we understand all of the intricacies of this area of law and have years of experience in dealing with complex situations like yours.
You can find out more about the other most common grounds for contesting a Will here .
Yes, a Will can be contested for undue influence after probate has been granted. However, if a grant Is issued before a claim is made, there is a danger that the assets of the estate will have already been distributed in compliance with the invalid Will.
It's important to the potential success of a claim for you to contest the Will as soon as possible. It is not impossible to do so after probate has been granted, but it can make the process more complex and it can be much more difficult to do so after the estate has been distributed to the beneficiaries.
If possible, it is best to start the process of contesting the Will for undue influence as soon as you can. View more information about the process here. We can offer expert advice on challenging Wills and discuss the potential next steps of your claim. Contact us today on 0800 689 3607.
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An example of undue influence in UK law would be if a person in a position of power or trust, such as a caregiver or solicitor, coerces an elderly or vulnerable person into changing their Will to benefit the influencer. This would be considered undue influence as the vulnerable person was not making the decision freely and independently.
To prove undue influence in a Will, it must be shown that the testator was coerced or manipulated into making certain decisions. Evidence is often circumstantial because undue influence is usually covert. Evidence can include witness testimony from those who knew the deceased when the Will was made, medical records showing the dceased was a weak and vulnerable adult. The burden of proof is on the party contesting the Will, and they must show that the influence was so strong that it overpowered the testator's free will.
In a Will dispute under UK law, anyone who has exerted pressure or influence on the testator (the person making the Will) to change their Will can be accused of exerting undue influence. This can include family members, friends, caregivers, or anyone else who may have had a close relationship with the testator and had the opportunity to manipulate their decisions.
Common signs of undue influence in a Will include: sudden changes in the Will, the testator being isolated from family and friends, the testator being dependent on the influencer, the influencer being present during the Will signing, and the testator being in poor physical or mental health. Under UK law, if there is evidence of undue influence, the Will may be challenged and declared invalid.
Yes, a Will can be invalidated if undue influence is proven. Under UK law, if it can be shown that the testator was coerced or manipulated into making certain provisions in their Will, the court may declare the Will invalid. This is because the testator must have made the Will freely and without any undue influence from others.
In a case of undue influence in a Will dispute, the burden of proof is on the person challenging the validity of the Will to prove that the testator was subjected to coercion or pressure that overpowered their free will and caused them to make decisions that they would not have made otherwise. The standard of proof required is on the balance of probabilities.
There is no time limit for bring a case to challenge the validity of a Will. However, delay may result in important evidence being destroyed or lost. The court may also not be willing to allow a claim brought if there has been extensive delay because it is not fair to the defendant that they be met with a claim.
If you suspect undue influence in a Will, you can challenge the validity of the Will in court. The court may declare the Will invalid if it is proven that the testator was coerced or manipulated into making the Will. Alternatively, you may seek to have the will set aside on the grounds of fraud or lack of capacity. It is advisable to seek legal advice from a solicitor who specialises in Will disputes.
To prevent undue influence in your own Will, you should ensure that you make the Will voluntarily and without any pressure from others. You should also seek independent legal advice and ensure that the will accurately reflects your wishes. It is important to keep the Will up to date and review it regularly to ensure that it still reflects your wishes. Additionally, you should avoid involving anyone who may have a conflict of interest in the drafting or execution of the Will.