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Can undue influence still happen if the testator lived alone?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Probate Litigation

Undue influence is often a valid reason to contest someone’s will, mainly if it contains terms and conditions that do not make sense. Unlike other grounds for will contests, this reason is usually challenging to prove, potentially resulting in extensive proceedings that involve gathering proof of the testator’s mental state before death. These supporting details can clarify their dependency on specific people, whether someone could have manipulated, isolated or controlled them during the will’s creation and execution.

If that is the basis of the will contest, what happens if the testator lived alone for an extended period before passing on? This situation can present varying complications but does not necessarily make undue influence irrelevant.

Vulnerability to undue influence

Various factors can establish undue influence as a valid reason to contest a will. These considerations can be applicable based on the circumstances, which may work similarly in scenarios where the testator lived with no other person before dying.

When faced with these cases, the court’s decision can vary according to other details of the testator’s life. Despite having no caregiver, beneficiary or family member physically living with them, they could still be prone to undue influence in other areas. 

Apart from more obvious methods, the manipulation could still happen subtly, specifically if the individual has already allocated authority over their finances to other people because of their declining health. Additionally, they could have been isolated when living alone, presenting opportunities to approach the testator and influence them.

Reviewing all the facts during will contests

Although the testator’s living arrangement plays a crucial role in gauging their mental state and capacity, it may not be enough to invalidate undue influence. Still, consider seeking legal counsel even before contesting a will. Understanding and reviewing the facts of the situation could help determine if the contest is valid and if litigation is appropriate.