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What Constitutes Undue Influence in New Jersey?

April 28, 2023

What Constitutes Undue Influence in New Jersey

Contesting a will can be a complicated and emotional process, especially if you suspect that it was created under undue influence. Undue influence occurs when one person uses their power or authority to manipulate another person’s decision-making abilities. In New Jersey, it is essential to understand what constitutes undue influence and how it can be used as grounds for contesting a will.

What is Undue Influence?

Undue influence is a legal term that refers to situations where one person manipulates or pressures another person into making decisions that they would not have made otherwise. This can take many forms, such as:

  • Threatening or intimidating the other person
  • Promising rewards or benefits if they agree to something
  • Making false statements or misrepresentations
  • Taking advantage of the other person’s vulnerability or dependence
  • Isolating the other person from family and friends

In the context of will & trust matters, undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on the testator, the person creating the will, to change the terms of the will or to include specific beneficiaries. This behavior interferes with the testator’s free will and ability to make decisions.

Examples of Undue Influence in New Jersey

In New Jersey, undue influence can occur in a variety of situations, including:

1. Inheritance disputes: When a person challenges the validity of a will, claiming that it was created under undue influence.

2. Real estate transactions: When a buyer claims that the seller used undue influence to pressure them into signing a contract.

3. Contract disputes: When a party argues that they were coerced into signing a contract under undue influence.

4. Business transactions: When a partner or shareholder claims that they were forced out of a company due to undue influence.

Undue Influence in Will Contests

In New Jersey, undue influence can be used as grounds for will contests. Here are some examples of situations where undue influence may be present:

  • The testator was isolated from family and friends: If the testator was isolated from family and friends, they may have been more vulnerable to the influence of others who had contact with them.
  • The testator was in poor health or had cognitive impairments: If the testator was in poor health or had cognitive impairments, they may have been more susceptible to undue influence.
  • The testator’s will is significantly different from previous versions: If the testator’s will is significantly different from previous versions, it may be an indication that someone exerted undue influence over them.
  • One beneficiary received a significant benefit: If one beneficiary received a significant benefit, such as a larger portion of the estate or a specific asset, it may be an indication that undue influence was present.

Preventing Undue Influence in Will Contests

To prevent undue influence, it is essential to understand the warning signs and take appropriate action. Here are some tips to help prevent undue influence:

1. Be Aware Of The Warning Signs: 

If you notice that someone is behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable or feels pressured, be alert to the possibility of undue influence.

2. Keep Good Records: 

It is important to keep good records of any transactions or agreements to help protect against claims of undue influence.

3. Get A Second Opinion: 

Before making any significant decisions, it can be helpful to seek a second opinion from a trusted advisor or professional.

4. Have The Will Prepared By An Experienced Attorney: 

An experienced attorney can help ensure that the will is prepared properly and is not subject to challenges based on undue influence.

5. Have The Testator Evaluated For Competency: 

If there are concerns about the testator’s cognitive ability, have them evaluated by a medical professional to ensure that they are competent to create a will.

6. Have Witnesses Present When The Will Is Signed: 

Having witnesses present can help ensure that the testator was acting of their own free will and not under the influence of someone else.

7. Discuss The Will With Family And Friends: 

Talking about the contents of the will with family and friends can help prevent misunderstandings and reduce the potential for undue influence.

Contact Choi Law Firm Today For a Free Consultation About Your Will Contest or Estate Planning Case

Are you in need of legal representation for a will contest or estate planning matter? Look no further than the Choi Law Firm, located in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Our team of experienced attorneys understands the complexities and emotional challenges that come with contesting a will or creating an estate plan. We are dedicated to providing personalized, compassionate, and effective legal representation to our clients.

At Choi Law Firm, we specialize in will contests, trusts, estate litigation, and probate matters. We have a proven track record of success in helping clients achieve their desired outcomes in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators and fierce advocates in the courtroom. We pride ourselves on staying up-to-date with the latest legal developments and strategies, ensuring that our clients receive the best possible representation. We understand that every client’s situation is unique, which is why we take the time to listen carefully to our clients’ concerns, answer their questions, and develop customized legal strategies tailored to their needs. 

In addition to our legal expertise, we are committed to providing exceptional customer service. Our clients receive regular updates on their cases’ progress, and we are always available to answer any questions they may have. At Choi Law Firm, we believe that our clients deserve the best possible legal representation, and we are committed to delivering just that. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and see how we can help you with your legal needs.

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Sandra Choi is attentive, kind, thoughtful, and professional. She was thorough and well-prepared throughout my case, and I was impressed by her honesty and work ethic. Ms. Choi and her team were helpful and responsive to my questions and concerns, and she certainly exceeded my expectations. I highly recommend Ms. Choi and her team.

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