To have an otherwise valid will thrown out of probate court, it is normally necessary to prove that someone unduly influenced the testator to write the will in his or her favor. That can be difficult to prove, but it is not impossible.
In estate law, wills are assumed to be valid, if all of the legal formalities were done properly. If the will was signed by the deceased, witnessed, and notarized, then it is assumed to be valid.
This is necessary because there is no way for a judge to ask a deceased person, if the will presented in court accurately describes how they wanted to distribute their estate.
Overcoming that assumption of validity can be very difficult to do.
In most cases, it requires proving that someone pressured, unduly influenced in legal jargon, the testator into making a will in his or her favor.
However, since the deceased cannot be called into court to testify about any pressure, proving undue influence is difficult.
It is not an impossibility though, as the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog recently discussed in "Corpus Christi Court Upholds Undue Influence Verdict."
The article discusses one particular case where a Texas jury found undue influence.
That verdict was upheld by the court. While the details of the case are not necessarily important, what is important is that undue influence does not necessarily require definitive proof.
In fact, circumstantial evidence can support a finding of it.
If you think a will is invalid because of undue influence, consult with a Cincinnati estate attorney. Your case will be difficult, but it might not be impossible to prove.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your estate plans or when probating an estate or administering a trust, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage a Cincinnati estate planning attorney.
For more information about estate planning, probate or trust administration in Cincinnati (and throughout the rest of Southwest Ohio) and to review free resources regarding estate planning, probate or trust administration, visit my website. If you have questions regarding this article or a particular legal matter, feel free to contact me at 513-399-PLAN (7526).
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (August 11, 2017) "Corpus Christi Court Upholds Undue Influence Verdict."