My late husband's mother recently passed. Her previous will left 1/3 each to surviving children and 1/3 to be split between my two children. A new will, dated 5 months ago, while her son was living with her excludes my children. How would one go about proving undue influence in the state of Maine?
State/Country relating to question: Maine
Hello, I will be happy to assist you with your question. Please note that I cannot provide legal advice – I can only give you information concerning the legal issues raised by your question. I DO NOT receive credit for my work until you rate my answer as OK service” or higher. Please DO NOT RATE MY ANSWER as "Bad service" or "Poor service" (or the 2 stars on the left if you see stars), as such a rating leaves negative feedback for me personally. Instead, if you feel one of those ratings would be appropriate, please reply to me via the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button with the issue you have, and I will be happy to continue further and do everything I can to provide you with the service you seek.Your Answer:The following is from a written court opinion in Maine. It outlines what must be shown to satisfy the court that undue influence was present in procuring a new will/trust, etc.:“In Maine, undue influence has been construed to mean " ... influence in connection with the execution of the will, and operating at the time the will is made, amounting to moral coercions, destroying free agency, or opportunity which could not be resisted, so that the testator, unable to withstand the influence, or too weak to resist it, was constrained to do that which was not his actual will but against it."3 In re: Estate of Horne, 2003 ME 73, 18, 822 A.2d 1177, 1181 (internal quotations and citations omitted). "The most prominent circumstances regarded as evidence of undue influence are: (1) the existence of a confidential relationship between the testator and the one who is asserted to have influenced him; and (2) the fact that the testator has disposed of his property in an unexpected or unnatural manner." In re: Estate of Bridges, 565 A.2d 316, 317 (Me. 1989). In the presence of these factors, an inference of undue influence may arise though the plaintiff retains the burden to prove undue influence by clear and convincing evidence. Id. Maine courts have previously found that undue influence can be found when mental infirmity caused by illness and medication tend to show that a decedent's capacity to resist the influence is diminished. See Estate of Record, 534 A.2d 1319, 1322-23 (Me. 1987).”http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/maine/superior-court/CUMcv-04-056.pdf
Medical records help a lot to show a person was in a weakened mental state and was, therefore, susceptible to undue influence. However, cases such as yours are very, very difficult to win because the two living sons are still natural bounty of her estate, and disinheritance of only her grandchildren is not atypical. Thus, just know you’re fighting an uphill battle.As noted above, if you need clarification, please do let me know. And, again, I DO NOT receive credit for my work until you rate my answer as “OK service” or higher. Bonuses are always appreciated.If you later open a new question and would like my assistance, please begin the question with “To TMcJD….” This will ensure that only I answer the question. Thanks.
Wills, Trusts, Probate & other Estate Matters
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