Undue Influence

Nashville Attorneys Knowledgeable in Wills and Trusts
As people get older, they may sometimes rely on others to help them with important decisions or to provide daily care if their health is declining. Unfortunately, this reliance can lead to being taken advantage of, especially if the wrong person is entrusted. Trusts or wills that are executed as products of undue influence may be found invalid in order to protect the true wishes of an elderly individual. The estate planning lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC can guide people in Nashville and other cities in Tennessee who believe that their loved ones may have been unduly influenced in crafting a will or trust. Our firm firmly believes that these instruments should be established and carried out pursuant to the true intentions of their creators. We represent intended beneficiaries, trustees, and other interested parties throughout Williamson and Davidson Counties.

Contesting an Instrument Based on Undue Influence
If you believe your loved one executed a trust or will while being improperly swayed by someone else who was in a position of power over him or her, you may be able to contest the instrument based on undue influence. In order to have standing in court, the party bringing a will contest must have some sort of interest in the outcome, such as the position of an heir or intended beneficiary who has been negatively affected by the terms of the trust or will as they stand.

To establish undue influence, it must be shown that there was a confidential relationship between the testator or trustor and the party allegedly exercising the influence. Confidential relationships may be proven in an array of situations. Generally, under Tennessee law, a person with unlimited power of attorney over another person’s personal affairs, and who has exercised this power, will be deemed in a confidential relationship with the testator or trustor. Another way to establish this relationship is by showing that the person accused of undue influence was in a position of trust, especially if the testator or trustor relied upon him or her for day-to-day care or other needs. If the plaintiff shows that a confidential relationship existed, the defendant must counter the presumption of undue influence by producing evidence that no such influence existed at the time that the trust or will was executed.

Although it is important to make sure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out as they were intended, sometimes contesting a will or trust can render any inheritance you were granted void. Pursuant to Tennessee law, if a beneficiary challenges a trust or will that contains a no-contest clause, and is unsuccessful, that beneficiary loses his or her interest in the estate. This is a risk to bear in mind when you are considering a will contest.

Consult a Dedicated Estate Planning Lawyer in Nashville or Beyond
If you believe that your loved one may have been subject to the undue influence of someone else when planning his or her estate, you can contact the probate litigation attorneys at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard PLLC. We assist residents of Nashville as well as other communities, such as Franklin, Green Hills, and Cool Springs. Call us at 615-800-7096 or contact us online to arrange a consultation.