Factors for Determining Undue Influence
The North Carolina Court of Appeals’ recent decision in In re Will of John A. Jones, Jr. deals with a Caveat against a Will in favor of the decedent’s wife filed by the executor of the prior Will, which provided only a life estate for the wife. The court affirmed the lower court’s decision that there was no undue influence by the wife.
The Court of Appeals referenced the North Carolina Supreme Court case of In re Will of Turnage, 208 N.C. 130, 132, 179 S.E. 332, 333 (1935) in identifying seven factors that are probative on the issue of undue influence:
1. Old age and physical and mental weakness of the person executing the instrument.
2. That the person signing the paper is in the home of the beneficiary and subject to his constant association and supervision.
3. That others have little or no opportunity to see him.
4. That the instrument is different and revokes a prior instrument.
5. That it is made in favor of one with whom there are no ties of blood.
6. That it disinherits the natural objects of his bounty.
7. That the beneficiary has procured its execution.
If the person who contests the Will (the Caveator) can sufficiently prove some or all of these factors, he or she may be successful in having the Will declared invalid.