Proving a Will Is the Result of Undue Influence
The judge hearing a Will Contest case can find the Will invalid due to Undue Influence only if he or she hears the proper and compelling evidence. Gathering this evidence will require depositions, expert witnesses such as medical professionals, interrogatories, witness interviews, subpoenaed documents and evidence presented following the Washington Rules of Evidence and subject to objections by this Will’s proponent. Our Will Contest Attorney will walk you through every step of this complicated journey.
Shifting the Burden in an Undue Influence Case
Probating a Will creates a presumption of this Will’s validity. The challenger to the validity of the Will has the burden to prove undue influence.
Those challenging the Will must establish a prima facie case showing that:
- The testator was of weakened intellect at Will’s execution;
- The proponent of the Will stood in a confidential relationship with the testator; and
- The proponent of the Will received a substantial benefit under the Will.
If the person challenging the will can prove all three of these points, the burden shifts to the proponent of the Will (the person who wants the Will terms respected) to prove that the Will was NOT the product of undue influence. The process can be completed and time-consuming.
Who May Bring an Undue Influence Will Contest Challenge?
Only an “interested party” may bring an Undue Influence Will Contest Challenge, usually a beneficiary under the Will. A person would become an interested party if the Undue Influence damaged them financially.
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If you have any questions about a Will Contest based on Undue Influence or any other estate law topics, please contact us to schedule a free consultation.