Estate planning documents such as a Last Will and Testament and trust are in place to allow individuals to decide what will happen to their property after they pass away. Unfortunately, sometimes these documents do not adequately represent their wishes, especially if these individuals were taken advantage of by a person they trusted. Fortunately, in Louisiana, there are things an heir can do if they suspect undue influence in a will, and in the below post, we will go over these options.
What Is Undue Influence?
Undue influence is a term used to describe when a person in a position of power or trust uses excessive pressure to cause a person to change their will or trust in a way that does not truly represent how they want to see their property distributed after they pass away.
In general, undue influence tends to show up in the following situations:
- Lies and Deception: When a person does not know what is happening because they are being lied to and ultimately changes their will because of the lies.
- Threats: When a person is worried for their own safety or their loved one’s safety, they may feel they have to change their will to keep everyone safe.
- Isolation: When the individual deploying the influence has isolated the testator from friends and relatives, so they can get them to change their will.
However, it should be noted that even if people pressure or try to influence a person to create a will in a certain way, that is not the same thing as undue influence. When the person creating the will can make their own decisions, even if someone is providing an opinion on what they should do, this will usually not cause the will creator to change the document unless they want to.
How To Prove Undue Influence
Proving undue influence in Louisiana can be challenging, especially because the person who created the will cannot come and testify about their intentions. Fortunately, there are ways that loved ones and family members can bring up the issue of undue influence. However, they will typically have to establish the following:
- The document makes unexpected or unusual bequests given the testator’s behavior and relationships.
- The creator of the will was vulnerable to undue influence because of their age, illness, or the nature of the relationship with the individual applying the influence.
- The individual applying the excessive pressure benefited from the will, which reflects the influencer’s desires rather than the testator’s.
Evidence That Can Be Used To Prove Undue Influence
To establish undue influence, it may be necessary to present the following evidence:
- Individuals who knew the will’s creator, such as relatives, doctors, caregivers, friends, lawyers, and financial advisors, may need to testify.
- If there were other versions of a will, they can be used as relevant evidence to show what the testator truly wanted.
- If the testator was vulnerable to excessive pressure, their mental capacity could be relevant in showing there was undue influence.
Generally, the individual bringing the issue of undue influence has the burden of establishing that this influence occurred. Yet, if the individual who allegedly applied undue influence had a fiduciary relationship with the testator, that individual may have the burden of showing they did not exert excessive pressure.
For More Information Regarding Undue Influence in Louisiana, Contact Losavio & DeJean, LLC Today
If you believe a person exerted undue influence on a loved one or family member in the drafting of their will, contact Losavio & DeJean, LLC today or call our legal team at 844.431.5334 to go over your options.