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Publications | February 18, 2019
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Undue Influence Claims—Getting Harder to Win

A legal document is invalid if signed under such pressure that it reflects the intent of the influencer rather than the signer. 

Undue influence claims are common in cases in which a person with some level of mental decline changes their estate plan to exclude heirs or treat heirs unequally. 

The contestant typically argues that the person who benefitted from the estate plan unduly influenced the mentally declining person and the estate plan is invalid.  

Michigan judicial decisions reflect that it can be challenging to prove undue influence. A recent example: The Court of Appeals in November 2018 in Krum upheld the lower court’s decision dismissing the undue influence claim. Krum hammers home some important points of these claims: the person making the undue influence claim has the burden of proof, mere opportunity or motive to influence a person is not the same as actually unduly influencing a person, and speculation that the person was unduly influence is not evidence.