A previous post on this blog mentioned a number of different reasons why a North Carolina will might get challenged in a legal action to have it invalidated and, thus, disregarded for purposes of estate administration.
Undue influence was one of the grounds for challenging a will that this previous post mentioned. More should be said on this subject, however, because undue influence is a common reason heirs and other people challenge wills.
This is perhaps because, unlike, for example, whether a will was properly signed, undue influence is heavily dependent on the facts of an individual case. It is also a little bit tricky in that a perpetrator of undue influence need not lie, deceive, or defraud.
In fact, it is quite possible that a perpetrator of undue influence could truly mean well or honestly believe he or she is simply trying to help a loved one carry out that loved one’s wishes or do what is right.
On the other side of the coin, someone can be the victim of undue influence yet still have the mental and physical capability to make a valid will. All that needs to be shown is that the victim was vulnerable to having his or her free will unduly influenced and that the perpetrator had an opportunity to do so.
Someone claiming undue influence must also show that the perpetrator’s actions actually made a difference in how the victim planned his or her estate. For instance, it would be hard to claim one child exercised undue influence if he or she got the same share of the inheritance as his or her siblings.
Rocky Mount residents who have detailed questions about undue influence should consider speaking to a North Carolina probate attorney.