When it comes to estate law, you have probably heard about people contesting wills. This is when they claim the will is not valid or a part of the will is invalid. Contesting a will often results in someone claiming the use of undue influence in the creation of the document. Showing undue influence can make the Georgia court invalidate a whole will or portions of it.
The American Bar Association explains undue influence is when someone uses manipulation, force, coercion or other underhand means to get someone else to do something. In the context of a will, it would mean someone got the person to write the will in a certain way. Often this happens when someone wants certain assets. For example, a new wife may coerce a husband to change his will so he leaves everything to her instead of his children.
Due to mandatory reporting standards for professionals who work with the elderly, many times undue influence comes to light because of one of these professionals. They work closely with people and get to really know them, their thoughts and their situation and generally become close to them. This makes them a very good judge of when a person is making his or her own decisions and when someone else is having an influence.
There is an issue with the concept of undue influence. This is that it does not have a clear legal definition. Each state has its own version of a definition. Often it is left up to individual interpretation, which means one judge may not see a case in the same light as another judge. This leads to widely varying decisions in such cases.
Regardless of who brings up the issue or why it comes up, knowing your local definition and requirements to prove undue influence will be the best scenario if you wish to contest a will on these grounds.