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undue influence

n. the amount of pressure which one uses to force someone to execute a will leaving assets in a particular way, to make a direct gift while alive or to sign a contract. The key element is that the influence was so great that the testator (will writer), donor (gift giver) or party to the contract had lost the ability to exercise his/her judgment and could not refuse to give in to the pressure. Evidence of such dominance of another's mind may result in invalidation of the will, gift or contract by a court if the will, gift or contract is challenged. Participation in preparation of the will, excluding other relatives being present when the testator and the attorney meet, are all evidence of undue pressure, and an imbalance or change in language which greatly favors the person exercising the influence is a factor in finding undue influence. Example: Pete Pounder constantly visits his aunt Agnes while she is ill and always urges her to leave her mansion to him instead of to her son. Pounder threatens to stop visiting the old lady, who is very lonely, tells her she is ungrateful for his attention, finally brings over an attorney who does not know Agnes and is present while she tells the attorney to write a new will in favor of Pounder.

See also: will  will contest 

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications

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