Daily Law Group
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How to contest undue influence as a beneficiary

Cognitive disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s are common in the older U.S. population. In California, there is also a concentration of wealth in this group of citizens. When combined with the complexities of your family relations, challenging a will with allegations of undue influence due to the elder’s altered mental capacity is common. At Daily Law Group, we have experience representing clients who believe their elder relative was not mentally fit when creating their will, making it invalid.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, a California statutory scheme for undue influence regarding financial elder abuse, including wills and trusts, has recently been adopted. This clarification guides the testimony of mental health professionals placed in the role of expert witness in litigation. If you believe your loved one’s reduced mental capacity resulted in altering their will, a qualified expert may back your claim.

In addition to the clarity in defining undue influence, the updated law also includes a standard for determining an admissible mental health expert witness. The judge overseeing your proceedings screens the potential experts concerning reliability and relevance. The MHP’s training, knowledge, skill and experience are relevant to the selection process.

Adults are typically presumed to have the mental capacity to make a will. However, individuals may be deemed unfit if any scenarios below are true:

  • They have delusions or hallucinations that stem from a mental disorder and make them act in a manner contrary to their lives before the health issues.
  • They no longer understand the nature of the will and its consequences.
  • They do not remember their relatives, their relationship to them or other individuals who are affected by the will.

The common-law belief of undue influence has been accepted for close to 400 years, yet largely viewed as subjective. Thankfully the updated definition of UI and improved clarity enables you the chance to prove the vulnerability of your loved one, reducing the opportunity and disposition of the influencer. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.

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