Undue Influence Litigation
If you have been expecting an inheritance from a loved one, it can be truly jarring to realize that their life-long plans and wishes changed at the last minute, particularly if their new estate plan or will seems very much out of line with who they are or what they would have wanted. Unfortunately, undue influence when it comes to wills and estate plans are far too common. The elderly and ailing are especially vulnerable to pressure and manipulation from those close to them who they rely on for care. If you believe undue influence may have been a factor in your loved one’s probate case, a lawyer can help you argue this in court and the issue will be litigated. Of course, every case is different. If you would like personalized feedback on your specific legal matter, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray and schedule a consultation.
Establishing Undue Influence
It’s important to understand that not all influence is illegal or constitutes undue influence. For instance, nagging your parents to leave you a larger inheritance than your sibling will not likely rise to the level of undue influence. Rather, undue influence will be presumed in cases where the individual suspected of influencing the testator has a confidential relationship with them, and was active in helping them create or procure the will. Additional factors that point toward undue influence focus on the extent to which the suspected undue influence was involved in the preparation of the will, such as whether they chose the lawyer or witnesses, knew what the will would say before it was drafted, provided instructions to the testator’s lawyer, or kept a copy of the will after it was prepared.
Tortious Interference with an Expected Inheritance
Often, probate trials are a rather dry affair, taking place in probate court in front of a single judge and without a jury. However, bringing this relatively new tort claim can allow you to have your case heard in civil court, in front of a jury, which can be much more beneficial. In order to succeed in bringing this claim, you must be able to demonstrate that you would have received an inheritance or a larger inheritance had the undue influence not occurred on the testator. When successful, this allows you to recover the amount of inheritance that you lost as a result of the undue influence as well as compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced as a result of the undue influence or other tortious conduct, such as fraud or duress. Additionally, depending on the circumstances of your claim, punitive damages may also be available.
Schedule a Consultation with the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray
If you believe that your rightful inheritance has been tampered with or illegally affected due to undue influence, fraud, or other tortious conduct, the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray are ready to help. Contact West Palm Beach probate lawyer Larry E. Bray today and find out how he can fight to get you the inheritance that you are rightfully entitled to.