Not Under the Influence

November 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

Two recent cases, both decided by the COA on October 22, 2013, upheld chancellors’ rulings that decedents’ actions were not the product of undue influence.

In Wheeler v. Wheeler, the court upheld a chancellors’ decision that, although the decedent and his brother had a confidential relationship, the will and deeds in favor of the brother were not the product of undue influence so that they should be set aside.

And in Estate of Mace: Colbert v. Gardner, the court affirmed the chancellor’s refusal to set aside a will based on undue influence. The court also rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity.

We’ve talked here before about the onerous burden that the plaintiff bears to convince the trial court that a will, deed, or other instrument should be set aside for undue influence. We also talked about the proof necessary to prove lack of testamentary capacity.

The law sets a high bar for those who are seeking to set aside instruments. If you are approached by a prospective client, even one with a fistful of dollars to finance litigation, you should make sure that the proof rises to the level that would justify the relief you are seeking.

You can read these recent cases and draw your own conclusions.

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