Fraud or Undue Influence
One reason why a Will or trust might be contested is on grounds of fraud.
A fraud of this nature is often referred to as "undue influence."
The entire purpose of a Will is that it reflects the desires of the one
executing it, but when an individual seeks to manipulate the Will in their
own favor, it can be considered fraud and an inaccurate representation
of the testator's wishes. If a Will simply serves to express someone
else's wishes rather than the death-time dispositive desires of the
testator, then it may be revoked. There are many ways a person may be
able to manipulate the decision making of the testator.
Undue evidence is not the same as fraud, but they rest on similar principles.
The same tactics that a person may use to commit fraud may be used to
manipulate a Will. The first principle is deceit. If an individual is
deliberately lying to the testator and other beneficiaries or omitting
and otherwise concealing pertinent information, this may be considered
undue influence. This deception must have been accomplished with the intention
of being awarded estate that they would not have been awarded in the first
place. Another form of manipulation is false promises. Promises can be
used as a means of leverage in order to fraudulently get desired estate.
An individual attempting to manipulate a will may also attempt to conceal
the truth. While this may not be an outright lie, concealing information
is a means of coercing the opinion of the testator on false premises.
If they do not know all of the facts, they cannot make an informed decision.
Individuals may develop a friendship with the testator or other beneficiaries
for the sole purpose of getting certain estate. It may also be considered
undue influence if a person maligns the character of others who may benefit
from the Will.
Proving Manipulation of Will or Trust
In Nebraska, undue influence must be proved by clear and convincing evidence.
As someone contesting a Will, you may have to prove that the testator's
state of mind was altered so that they were not acting of their own freedom
and volition. You have a right to be suspicious of those who seem to be
spending unwarranted amounts of time with the testator, especially if
that results in the amending of the Will. An attorney from our firm can
investigate the situation to determine if undue influence changed the
Will. Some examples of evidence we can evaluate include: what opportunities
were present to exercise undue influence, potential motivations for undue
influence and the behavioral patterns of the testator. Since this type
of manipulation involves finances, it may actually be considered a form
of elder abuse.
Nebraska Will and Trust Contest Lawyer
Financial exploitation of the elderly can even be accomplished by means
of threatening or physical violence. Those who are most susceptible to
being unduly influenced are those that are lonely, confused, dependent
on others or mentally impaired. It is not uncommon for individuals to
coerce a testator into thinking that they cannot make a decision on their
own, and thereby give them the final say in the Will. A reduced mental
capacity does not necessarily lead to undue influence, but it does increase
the vulnerability of the testator. The financial exploitation of the elderly
can warrant a Will contest. If you noticed unnatural or suspicious activity
that resulted in an unexpected execution of a Will, then you may have
grounds to contest. The testator may have been unduly influenced by someone
who was seeking their own financial gain. To learn more,
contact a trust contest attorney at our firm today!