Wills - Undue Influence
Wills can be contested on a number of grounds including that the testator was incompetent to make a will at the time of signing it or the signing of the will was subject to Undue Influence (e.g., coercion, manipulation, deception, compulsion, intimidation, etc.). A good attorney with experience in estates and wills can help prevent such problems. Undue influence is typically not easy to demonstrate. Essentially, it must be shown that the person signing the Will, the testator, set forth provisions that were against his free will and his desired intentions. Generally, the testator must be shown to have been unable to counteract the influence due to illness or other factors that caused him to be too weak or unable to make his own choices. It is commonly noted that to demonstrate undue influence, an objectant needs to show that the wrongdoer had opportunity, motive and that undue influence was actually practiced. Undue influence will usually not be found just because a beneficiary was kind to a person in his old age or simply asked to be made a Will beneficiary. However, there are certain situations where a Court will infer the existence of such influence. Such instances occur where persons in a confidential relationship with testator are made beneficiaries. For example, where the attorney who drafts the testator's Will is also named as a Will beneficiary. Situations where a person who has a power of attorney and end up as a Will beneficiary may also provide the basis for such inference.
Contesting a Will in New York requires that the Court be provided with very specific information that can demonstrate that a Will should be ignored. Since the testator is now deceased, Courts tend to want to follow the provisions that are set forth in a written Will unless it is clear that the document should be rejected.
I have also represented clients in cases where their potential inheritance has been affected by an undue influence will. The presence of undue influence in connection with a will can result in the will not being valid.
I have many years of experience working with and advising clients in the creation and implementation of wills that express the clients’ personal desires regarding the disposition and protection of assets while providing potential tax advantages and security for family and beneficiaries. I work to make sure that there is no undue influence in the creation of a will and that clients are not deprived of an inheritance because of an undue influence will.
I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1979 and admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1982 after graduating in the top 10% of my class at The New England School of Law in Boston. I was admitted to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. I started my own law practice in New York City in 1985.
For personalized attentive service and a free case evaluation you can contact me by telephone (212) 355-2575, fax (212) 751-5911 or e-mail