Articles Tagged with undue influence

An increasingly common issue sprouting up in Fort Lauderdale probate litigation is prenuptial agreements. These agreements, also sometimes referred to as premarital agreements, are those made by couples prior to marriage that concern the ownership of respective assets should the marriage fail. However, Florida probate lawyers know they can also include virtually any right or interest in any present or existing property rights – including stipulations such as alterations of an existing will. As long as there is nothing in the contract that violates the law or affects the right of child support, the parties can pretty much contract for anything they want. Florida undue influence lawyer

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that in a national survey, more than 60 percent of top family law attorneys have seen an increase in the total number of prenuptial agreement requests over the last three years, many saying millennial newlyweds were a significant driver of the uptick, though older generations too are securing these agreements, particularly in second or subsequent marriages. The reason for the latter, the AAML noted, was because older couples have more assets to protect.

A recent Florida probate case involving a prenuptial agreement was weighed by Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal. The spat was between decedent’s son and his wife over the way the estate was administered.  Continue reading

It is an unfortunate reality that some people have no qualms using undue influence for the purpose of obtaining “gifts” from an individual who is elderly, ill or weak. Our Florida probate attorneys have seen these cases arise most frequently in cases involving nursing home residents, elderly parents or ailing grandparents. Those who allege “undue influence” (which is a specific charge in probate litigation) are usually surviving loved ones doing so with the intention of challenging the validity of a lost loved one’s will, trust or inter vivos transfer (transfer of property made during one’s lifetime).probate litigation

Proving undue influence is not a simple matter or low bar. One has to prove that the victim’s mind was “so controlled or affected by persuasion or pressure, artful or fraudulent contrivances or by the insidious influences of persons in close confidential relations” that he or she isn’t knowingly or voluntarily acting of their own accord, but instead carrying out the will of someone else. This was outlined in the precedential 1925 Florida Supreme Court case of Peacock v. Dubois.

In most cases, it is the plaintiff asserting undue influence who typically has the burden of poof. Prior to 1971, the burden of proof in these cases was reached with enough evidence to raise the undue influence presumption, at which point the proof burden shifted to the defendant, who then had to prove it didn’t occur. Then there was the key Florida Supreme Court case of Carpenter v. Carpenter, justices ruled that even the establishment of an undue influence presumption didn’t shift the proof burden to the defendant, at least as it pertained to will contests. About a decade later, the court decided the same rule in cases alleging inter vivos transfers. Continue reading

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