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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Undue influence and contesting a will

Unfortunately, not all estates in Minnesota are settled easily. Occasionally, a will is contested by someone who feels that there was a problem with it. Many times, they contest the will claiming there was undue influence at the time the will was written.

There are certain factors a court may look at to determine whether there was undue influence. The court may look at who was present in the initial will drafting meeting. If there were others present, like children, undue influence may have occurred. The court may also analyze whether the testator was susceptible to undue influence.

The court may also see if there was a confidential relationship between the testator and the beneficiary or if the will preparation was directed by one of the beneficiaries. Also, did the testator or a beneficiary keep the will secret from other members of the family? Or, were there other unnatural changes made to the estate plan? These and other factors may be examined by the court to determine whether there was undue influence.

When there is a question of undue influence, a legal professional who is skilled in probate litigation can help. An attorney has the experience necessary to help a family work through the problems they have. Emotions can be at an all-time high and it can be helpful to have a third party mediate the disagreement. If the disagreement cannot be solved, an attorney can represent their client in court and make sure their interests are protected.

A will contest is an unfortunate event that can occur in any family. A testator has the right to give their property to anyone they wish as long as there wasn't any undue influence.

Source:, "Undue influence," Tamra K. Waltemath, Jan. 1, 2018

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