While we have many potential clients approach us at Zapolis & Associates, P.C., as the beneficiaries-- or not, as the case may be-- of disadvantageous wills, few of these situations involve undue influence. This does not mean that all wills written by competent grantors in Illinois are valid: far from it.
To determine whether a court might find a will invalid due to undue influence, it is important to realize that influence alone is typically not enough. More often than not, when we encounter a case in which the court affirms a will contest on the grounds of the grantor being influenced inappropriately, there is also a correlated issue of testamentary incapacity.
If you examine the issue, it makes sense that these two problems would often work in tandem to invalidate a will. As you know, bullying, lying or excessive importunity of a potential beneficiary is not enough to influence a competent adult to change an estate document. In fact, we find that many people come to our office to remove beneficiaries after an attempt on the beneficiary's behalf to defraud, beg or intimidate. Conversely, we find that those with diminished capacities-- or individuals who have demonstrated a vulnerability to certain types of persuasion-- might not have the capacity to draft a legitimate will.
Because of the interrelation between capacity and influence, our first step when a client comes to us with a potential will contest is often to investigate the state of the grantor when the document was written. This information is a basic prerequisite to determining the viability of a contestant's undue influence claim. Please continue reading more on our main website.