Wills made near the end of life can be subject to a challenge in probate where a person that would otherwise have been an heir under the law is excluded by the will. One of the forms of such a challenge is based on allegations that persons who have been elevated to the status as beneficiaries under a will exercised undue influence over the testator. Upon a showing of undue influence, a will can be invalidated. The result is that the testator would then be deemed to have died without a will, or with a prior will in place. If the testator dies without a will, then the laws of intestate succession would determine the heirs to estate and not the will. Accordingly, the theory of undue influence is a means by which an heir at law, excluded from a will, can invalidate the will and assume his place as a beneficiary.
In the Georgia Supreme Court opinion in Davidson v. Hines, Appeal Case No. S12A0405 (July 2, 2012), the Court recently upheld a decision of a Georgia trial court that submitted the issue of undue influence to a jury to decide as the finder of fact. The Court made various findings in the opinion indicating that the facts and circumstances surrounding execution of the will were sufficient to meet the criteria for a jury finding of undue influence.