Search This Blog

A Blog about Real Estate, How it Can Be Damaged, and Disputes Over its Transfer

This blog is a personal blog written to discuss legal issues affecting Georgia property, and how it is damaged, transferred, and fought over. I write this partly to keep abreast of the law, and partly to offer a forum for my writing. In order to find content, I often analyze Georgia Supreme Court decisions. I try to update this blog as I can, but writing is a time consuming process.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Undue Influence Over Person Making a Will Requires Proof of Coercion

One of the claims commonly asserted to contest a will is the doctrine of undue influence.  Under this doctrine, persons left out of a will may contest a will in probate on a claim that the heirs included in the will improperly influenced the maker of the will before his death. On November 7, 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court issued an opinion showing the difficulty in proving undue influence.  In the opinion in Simmons v. Norton, Case No. S0A1061, the court noted a follows:
Undue influence sufficient to invalidate a will amounts to deception
or force and coercion operating on the testator at the time of
execution such that the testator is deprived of free agency and the
will of another is substituted for his. Evidence showing only an
opportunity to influence and a substantial benefit under the will
does not show the exercise of undue influence. [Cit.]
Holland v. Holland, 277 Ga. 792, 793 (2) (596 SE2d 123) (2004).
In examining the facts of the case, the appellate court noted that the challenger to the will had failed to present evidence that the heirs included in the will had committed any acts amounting to deception, force and coercion that had deprived the person making the will of his free will thereby substituting the heirs' will for his free will.   Evidence simply showing that the heirs were close to the testator and had taken him to a lawyer to rewrite the will falls short of a showing of the high standard for showing undue influence.  The appellate court upheld summary judgment to the heirs in the will and rejected the claim of undue influence.

No comments:

Post a Comment