A South Florida attorney has filed three lawsuits in Palm Beach County against his siblings – one trust, one probate and one tort – and another in Broward Circuit Court – alleging his siblings committed fraud in influencing their elderly mother to alter her previous estate plan and give them millions of dollars in gifts over the course of her life. In addition to his siblings, he named a brokerage firm (which had frozen all accounts from the estate), as it held accounts for both the family-owned real estate companies and his siblings.
The siblings’ father reportedly left behind a real estate of fortune of more than $100 million. By coercing their mother, plaintiff alleges, the siblings engaged in something called undue influence.
Undue influence happens when someone close to the person who has or is making a will manipulates or pressures that person to alter that will in some legally significant way. We see a lot of examples of undue influence in cases against caretakers, close family members, nurses, agents – even attorneys. These cases often are tough to build because we must show whether the alterations or transfers were consistent with the person’s previous statements of intent (verbal or written). The court will want to see whether the person who wrote the will (the testator) truly intended to make those chances that unfairly impacted the plaintiff. It would be their right to do so, and it’s still important to note that even if there is some evidence showing the person was susceptible to undue influence, we still need to show the actions were not the true intention or free will of the testator. Continue reading