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 Nebraska trust contest attorney at our firm today!

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