Undue influence occurs when someone uses their power or authority to manipulate another person’s decision-making process. Knowing how to prove undue influence in a legal case can be difficult. But it is possible with the right evidence and legal guidance. In this guide, we’ll explore what constitutes undue influence and how to prove it in court.
Understand what constitutes undue influence.
Undue influence can take many forms, but it generally involves one person exerting control over another person’s decision-making process. This can happen in a variety of situations, such as when a caregiver manipulates an elderly person into changing their will, or when a business partner pressures another partner into signing a contract that is not in their best interest. To prove undue influence, you must be able to show that the person exerting influence had a position of power or authority over the other person, and that they used that power to manipulate their decision-making process. Generally, the victim must also be vulnerable, and the influencer must have taken advantage of this vulnerability.
Identifying Red Flags that someone may be a victim of undue influence
Identifying the signs of undue influence is critical, as it can be difficult to detect. Some of the red flags include sudden changes in behavior, isolation from family and friends, changes in financial transactions, and pressure or threats from a dominant individual. Victims may also be coerced into signing legal documents, such as wills or powers of attorney, that benefit the influencer.
How to Prove Undue Influence in Arizona.
The Arizona Supreme Court has identified eight non-exclusive factors as “significant indicia” of undue influence. These are:
- Whether the person benefited by the deed made any fraudulent representations to the grantor;
- Whether the deed was hastily executed;
- Whether the execution was concealed from others;
- Whether the person benefitted by the deed was active in securing its drafting and execution;
- Whether the deed as drawn was consistent with prior declarations of the grantor;
- Whether the deed was reasonable rather than unnatural in view of the grantor’s circumstances, attitudes and family;
- Whether the grantor was a person susceptible to undue influence; and
- Whether the grantor and the beneficiary were in a confidential relationship.
See In Re McCauley’s Estate 101 Ariz. 8, 10, 11 (1966).
However, the Arizona Court of Appeals expanded this list of factors by determining that a broad range of other evidence might be considered, such as the grantor’s statements or other circumstances occurring before or after the execution of the instruments. See Rosenberg v. Sanders, 512 P.3d 1027 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2022)
Gather evidence of the influencer’s actions.
To prove undue influence in a legal case, it’s important to gather evidence of the influencer’s actions. This can include emails, text messages, and witness statements that demonstrate the influencer’s control over the victim’s decision-making. Look for patterns of behavior that suggest the victim was coerced or manipulated, such as sudden changes in their will or financial transactions. It’s also important to document any instances of isolation from friends and family, as this can be a sign of undue influence. With the right evidence and legal guidance, you can build a strong case to prove undue influence in court.
How to build a strong case.
Building a strong case to prove undue influence requires careful planning and attention to detail. Start by gathering as much evidence as possible, including emails, text messages, and witness statements. Look for patterns of behavior that suggest the victim was coerced or manipulated, such as sudden changes in their will or financial transactions. It’s also important to document any instances of isolation from friends and family, as this can be a sign of undue influence. Work closely with a trusted legal professional who can guide you through the process and help you build a strong case to present in court.
Using the Legal Presumption To Your Advantage.
One way to prove undue influence is to use a legal presumption. In some cases, the law presumes that undue influence occurred if certain factors are present. For example, if a beneficiary had a confidential relationship with the testator and was involved in the creation of the will, the law may presume that the beneficiary exercised undue influence. The burden then shifts to the beneficiary to prove that there was no undue influence. Using a legal presumption can be a powerful tool in proving undue influence, but it requires a skilled attorney who can navigate the legal process and present evidence effectively. Victims and their families should work with an experienced attorney who can help them understand the legal presumption and use it to build a strong case.
Seeking Legal Assistance
Seeking legal assistance is critical when dealing with a case of undue influence. Victims and their families should work with an experienced attorney who understands the legal process and can protect their rights and interests. A lawyer can also provide guidance on how to prove undue influence. They can be your advocate and help you seek justice and hold the influencer accountable.
How to prove undue influence can be a complex process. It requires careful investigation and a clear legal strategy. Victims and their families should be aware of the signs of undue influence and seek legal assistance if they suspect that a loved one may be a victim. With the help of an experienced attorney, victims can seek justice and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
You can also read our blog: Can Undue Influence Be Proven In Court: A Legal Analysis.
We know how to prove undue influence. Call us today!
If you or a loved one suspect that you may be a victim of undue influence, it’s important to take action and seek legal assistance. Don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and options. Together, you can build a strong case and seek justice for the harm that has been done. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone. Contact us today at 602-443-4888 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help you protect your rights and interests.